Long Time Resident Saddened by Council Decision.
Mrs. Patti Louden now aged 87 has had a very long connection with Lawson going back over seventy years. She has spent most of those years in her home in Sayers Street .
Mrs. Louden was asked how she felt about the prospect of the Mechanics Institute / Community Hall being demolished for the widening of the highway and to share some memories about it.
"Before I married I would often come to dances on Friday nights at the hall during the war years to raise funds for the war effort, we had such a wonderful time. I would leave work at 5.30 pm and travel by steam train on Friday evenings, it usually took about 3 hours to get here then from Sydney.The entrance to the dances cost 1 shilling, and I remember it was always packed out.
The Hall was really the focal point of the community in Lawson and I have many happy memories of various functions, dances, special occasions and so on. The hall was used by many community groups, it was used by the C.W.A. for many years and other groups. I remember it being used for Christmas Carols for some years, it was wonderful.
Of my many happy times at the hall I particularly remember it being used on the weekends as a movie theatre. I remember seeing the film 'Going My Way', there were many others, but i can't recall them now.
I feel very strongly that the hall should somehow be moved and be used again for the whole community as it was intended, after all it belongs to the people of the township. Although it looks small from the highway it is really quite large inside. I remember the enormous kitchen / supper area and attending functions such as the C.W.A. and my daughters attending many school and other functions there as they were growing up.
I feel that we should be keeping the old hall as it has such important historical connections with many people in Lawson. Of course I realise that the highway is in desperate need of being widened but I would like to see the hall retained regardless.
I have no memory of much community consultation over the years regarding what would be done with the hall when the highway eventually is re- built. Maybe there was something in 'The Gazette' over the years but I don't recall much being said about it.
I would feel very sad to see this important building demolished considering the connections it has with so many people over the years."
Appalled By Council . Raoul O'Brien Lawson.
My points I wish to add are:
Our local youth group could have a permanent home in this building with pride.
Personally, I know several groups including painters, drama players and musicians that would regularly use this building for their exhibits and performances.
In a recent cultural strategy workshop organised by the Blue Mountains Council ( co-ordinated by Janne Yardie ) over several months at considerable cost and attended by various artistic / historical cultures including landscape painters / drama schools / dancers/ musicians / writers / youth bands / jazz groups etc., the main recurring complaint from these groups was that there were not enough halls in the Blue Mountains for their activities.
On this basis, why is the Mechanics Institute not in use at the present time and in the future?
Raoul O'Brien Lawson
I live in Bullaburra
Just before Easter I had my first opportunity to inspect the inside of the Mechanics Institute during a site visit by Mammoth Movers who were there to appraise the feasibility of moving the hall back.
I am absolutely astounded that such a beautifull and well resourced example of a theatre exists in my home town.
In any other LGA this would be the jewel of the civic crown.
This hall has great acoustics, great aesthetics, and an easily achievable potential to service a very sophisticated range of local and touring performance events, not to mention lending grandeur to a variety of community functions and just generally enhancing our town and LGA
It has more backstage area than the Opera Theatre or the Concert Hall at the SOH. And from what I can see – not an engineer – the costs to have it comply with the current Building Code of Australia, and fire safetly compliance would be a pittance compared with it’s practical and civic value.
I’ve spent the last few days on the phone talking to local performing arts and other community groups and people from related industries. I’ve yet to make one call where the response has been that we can afford to loose this venue. Even the plan of management acknowledges that additional funds must be found to rehouse MM youth services and, as a volunteer at the midmountains neighbourhood centre I can tell you that bookings for the hall there (which does double duty as the Lawson Primary school hall), and the other little meeting rooms are heavy contested.
This is something that Council’s community venues booking officer, who I’ve tried unsuccessfully to contact yesterday and today will verify.
I won't go into the emotional and heritage issues re this hall. You’ve all seen all the reports. On a practical level, on a purely value for money level. We need to keep and cherish this hall.
Thank you for your attention Kathy O'Hara Bullaburra