Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Council Will Destroy Our Heritage

Some historical facts from the Mid Mountains Historical Society website.

In June 1896, a meeting was held at the residence of Mr. W. Newton that resulted in the formation of a Literary and Debating Society for the Village of Lawson with a membership of eight interested residents and no funds. The first meetings of the new society were held in the old Blue Mountain Inn which had been made available by Mr AW. Wilson. A small library was established and the society began to grow. When Mr. Wilson died a move was made to the 'Coffee Palace' in San Jose Avenue and a 3/4 size billiard table was purchased with assistance from Mr. J.H. Humbly, to attract young men to the society. It proved an instantaneous success and a permanent site was procured for the town through the efforts of the local Progress Committee.

A Mechanics Institution was first established in the Colony of NSW in 1823 under the patronage of the Governor, Sir Richard Bourke and under the direction of a Scottish Minister, Rev. Henry Carmichael. The objects of the institution were similar to those that had been established at the beginning of the 19th century in Scotland and England to provide for the diffusion of useful knowledge, and the awakening of a love of study by means of a library, news and reading rooms, lectures and classes for instruction accessible for the working classes.

From the 1850s
, Mechanic's Institutes spread quickly throughout the towns and cities of Australia through Government support in the provision of sites and some financial support. Sir Henry Parkes had had his early education in such an institution in Birmingham and supported the movement in NSW during his time as Premier of the State. By 1880 there were 76 Schools of Arts, Mechanics or Literary Institutes throughout the state offering a wide range of adult education. The Board of Technical education was established in 1883 to oversee adult and technical education and by 1914 was overseen by the Department of Education. Formalisation of technical education in NSW left local Mechanics Institutes free to pursue a wide variety of cultural and social activities within their communities.

In February 1899
, Lot 17 of Section 1 of the Village of Lawson was set aside and dedicated as the site for a Mechanics Institute and a small timber building was erected on the site by the fledgling Lawson Literary Society. The move to this building provided additional impetus for the institution, which was a focus for social activity in the village and within a short period a public meeting was held to support the formation of a Mechanic's Institute and the erection of a more imposing structure to house its functions. Fund raising activities proceeded with community functions and entertainments being held in the 'Coffee Palace Hall' in San Jose Avenue.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Why Does This Man Want To Demolish Our Hall

Councillor Van Der Kley is the only ward Two Councillor elected to represent the wishes of the people in this ward who isn't interested in saving OUR hall.
He isn't interested in hearing from the people in this ward about this issue.
He isn't interested in this historical landmark building.
He has voted for demolition.

Councillor Van Der Kley
6 Murray Avenue
02 4758 6254 (fax/ph) (w)
02 4757 2376 (fax/ph) (h)
0427 805 810 (mobile)

Save Our Hall Vigil

press release for gazette

Just over 100 years ago some residents of Lawson raised the funds and engaged a builder to construct a community hall to be known as The Mechanics Institute. The bricks were re-cycled from the original Blue Mountain Railway Station building and used for the hall, which was opened in 1903.

Many residents of Lawson feel that the hard work and commitment by those people should be honoured by moving the hall, not demolishing it as is apparently the option preferred by The Blue Mountains City Council. It is quite possible to safely re-locate the building back from the highway.

Lawson and the Mid Mountains residents sorely need a hall for performance, meeting and exhibition space. The hall at Mid Mountains Community Centre is quite inadequate as it is shared with the Lawson Public School. It doesn't have decent facilities for performance or exhibitions. As the volunteers at Mid Mountains Neighbourhood Centre will tell you it is so heavily booked most of the time that it is hard get a booking owing to a lack of other facilities.

As many of us remember, the old Mechanics Institute Hall has an excellent stage and backstage space for many purposes. With a little tender loving care it could be brought up to scratch and used by the community again. A building report showed a few years ago that the hall was in good condition. Why then are our councillors not even prepared to consider a feasibility report into having it moved?

The Save Our Hall group of residents are holding a vigil every Sunday from 10.30am to remind Mountains residents and tourists of the value of this excellent facility and also to remind our Councillors of their duty to respond to the wishes of the people.

This hall was built by the people, for the people of Lawson.