Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Lawson Town Square Opens May 9 2009

Heatherbrae House Open for public inspection on the same day

Monday, April 27, 2009

Demolition Of Portico

(above) Original building in 1903

Photos show the demolition of the portico of the Mechanics Institute Lawson on the 27th of April 2009 to make way for the highway widening through Lawson. The old hall was officially opened in 1903. The portico was not part of the original building, it was a later addition. The exact date of this addition is not known but it is thought be in the 1930's, just before the second world.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Historic Lawson Hall Saved !!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Association of Concerned Mid Mountains Residents (ACMMR) and Save Our Hall Group congratulate the new Blue Mountains Council on their decision to surrender the development application (DA) to demolish historic Lawson Mechanics Institute, and accept an RTA plan that will allow the new highway to circumvent the hall. This act represents a solid recognition of the importance of the built heritage of the Blue Mountains, and a new vision for the Mountains that reflects awareness of future generations. It is a milestone for locals who have campaigned hard for over 5 years to save the building from demolition, and a positive outcome for the whole Blue Mountains community and visitors, many of whom contributed by writing letters, signing petitions and donating to the campaign. Thank you one and all!

The fight to save the hall echoes that in Moruya on the south coast where determined residents' action recently saved a rare late-19th century Mechanics Institute. Like Lawson's, this historic building is also aesthetically important for its design and its contribution to the townscape. Locals helped restore it and it now thrives as an arts and display centre. The larger Lawson Mechanics Institute however has something the Moruya one does not have - a stage.

There is still much to be done before the hall will be back in operation, but the community is ready to work with the Council to form a management committee to oversee the repair and restoration of the building for use by the public and local groups. ACMMR has a business plan that includes the names of a number of groups who have expressed interest in using the hall. Also individual qualified tradespeople have indicated they will supply labour and/or materials for maintenance or repair. Fund raising will be important for the future of the hall and there are a number of possibilities that the Blue Mountains Council is aware of. Already the National Trust is waiting to set up a Donations Appeal.

If anyone wants to make a donation in the interim they can send a cheque to ACMMR, PO Box 54, Lawson 2783.

Receipts will be sent by mail, so please include a stamped, addressed envelope.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Lawson Hall poem

Lawson Hall

Discarded railway station bricks
showed times of kinder politics,
as locals work with sweating brow.
They're up there with the angels now.

From wall and floor to window sill,
they gave their time as angels will.
The finished product, standing there,
was given to the Council's care.

In Lawson Hall, they'd celebrate
the meaning of a special date,
a twenty-first, a pair engaged,
an ancient Shakespeare drama staged,

The music flowed, the dancers danced.
Outside, the younger ones romanced.
The maintenance and cleaning crew
were angels, with a job to do.

A lecturer from overseas,
the Council would collect the fees.
The Hall stood watch a hundred years.
Now demolition raises fears

For something special could be lost,
because of the supposed cost.
The angels call on one and all -
Support the cause of Lawson Hall!

Anonymous / The Ghost of Denis K., 12 September 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008


A Freedom of Information request by the Association of Concerned Mid Mountains Residents (ACMMR) has revealed that elements within the Blue Mountains City Council, the RTA, the Department of Planning and the Heritage Office have collaborated to try to thwart a Heritage Planning process in order to demolish the historic 1903 Mechanics Institute Hall in Lawson.

The Institute is in the same class as many others with State and even National heritage significance, but now renewal of its heritage status has become a major stumbling block for the gazettal of a Council-approved Heritage Amendment to the Blue Mountains Local Environmental Plan 2005. The FOI indicates that Planning Minister Frank Sartor will be pressured to override democratic processes by removing the Institute as a heritage item from the Amendment presumably to facilitate demolition. If it retains its heritage status the RTA will need to comply with the Roads Act before continuing the widening of the Great Western Highway. However the RTA has an alternative highway plan that would avoid demolition of this community asset valued at $2-3million.

ACMMR requested the documents because of a lengthy delay in gazettal of the Amendment. Members were concerned that there may have been inappropriate intervention due to obsessive Council bias toward unnecessary demolition, and now feel that these concerns were justified. The Amendment is based on the findings of two heritage studies commissioned by Council, which the RTA relied on for its Review of Environmental Factors. Neither report recommends demolition but Council has meanwhile surged ahead with its demolition agenda.

Public submissions overwhelmingly rejected the Council’s “preferred option” of demolition, an unprecedented feature of its 2007 Plan of Management, but it was nevertheless adopted, only with the casting vote of Labor Mayor Jim Angel. Public sentiment for the Hall ran even hotter after Council then rejected, again with the casting vote of the Mayor, the RTA’s generous offer to use its alternative highway plan. Funding opportunities were also ignored, and moves to further investigate these were ruled out of order by the Mayor. This has left the community perplexed and angry, especially as Heritage Funding will be sought for other buildings nearby. As no post-demolition plan is available, many fear the site may eventually feature medium-density housing. ACMMR maintains Minister Sartor should determine that the highway go ahead with the RTA’s workable new plan rather than apply demolition by force to a prime heritage theatre building sorely needed by the community.

Support for the Save Our Hall campaign has come from far and wide including the National Trust, the Association of Mechanics Institutes and Schools of Arts NSW (AMISA) and thousands of Blue Mountains residents and visitors who are signing petitions and letters.

written by Julius Timmerman

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Lawson Hall Song

Listen to The Lawson Hall Song Here

A Poem by Erst Carmichael ©2008
Music by Denis Rice ©2008