View of the cracks in the Marrickville War Memorial

The statue ‘Winged Victory’ that stands on a pillar on the World War One Memorial outside Marrickville Town Hall was on the agenda at last week’s Council Meeting, 17th August 2010.

Winged Victory is a gorgeous statue that stands more than 4 metres tall & is the largest known bronze casting on a memorial in Australia.  Winged Victory is well loved by the people of Marrickville.  She was installed in 1919 & remained onsite until 1962 when she was removed for the next 26 years for restoration. She has remained onsite from 1982 until she was again removed from her pillar on 24th April 2009 because there were cracks developing which were seen as a potential danger to the public.  Winged Victory has since been assessed by a specialist conservator who said to repair her would likely be more expensive than having a bronze cast replica made.

Council recommended that a replica is made & Winged Victory be put in storage. Clr Olive wanted her displayed to which Clr Tsardoulias put up an amendment for the same.  Clr Marci said he thought the gold leaf on the names of fallen soldiers should be restored.  He also said the trees were destroying the footings of the War Memorial & Council should look at removing them.  Carried unanimously.

I went to have a look to see what kind of damage the trees were causing the War Memorial & frankly I would have to partially disagree with Clr Marci. I don’t think the trees have caused any significant damage, though I do think the memorial itself needs repairing & restoring the gold leaf to the names would be the right thing to do.

The whole site in front of Marrickville Town Hall is a place of great potential.  Right now it looks quite sad & is an under utilized space, especially in summer when the area is deadly hot.  The only time I am aware it being used is voting day. Generally, the space is used by pedestrians walking through, the odd person having a rest or groups of school children chatting & waiting for the bus.  One of the benches sits within 2 metres of the back of the bus stop. Not exactly making use of the view.

The area in front of Marrickville Town Hall is pebblecrete with a few Pines & plants along the walls of the Town Hall building. There are 3 planter boxes. One is empty, one has a 10 cm Pine growing & the other has a good-sized Pine growing in it.  This last tree has a crack in the pebblecrete at the base  of the planter box, but I don’t think this is an issue of safety. No one would walk there due to the shape of the tree.

The barren pebblecrete forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall is in dire need of some shade trees

2 smaller Pines are in purpose built cavities as part of the memorial itself.  The concrete between 2 sandstone blocks encasing one of the trees has disconnected from the 2 blocks, but this is simply a matter of re-cementing the 2 sandstone blocks together if deemed necessary.

The War Memorial itself is a series of steps in a flat pyramid shape.  Some of these steps have cracked along the joint for each level & 2 of the corners have damage.  This can also be repaired with a bit of cement.  One side does present a trip hazard, but does not seem at all related to the presence of trees.

The trees attached to the memorial are small with small trunks & they still fit nicely inside the cavities.  The damage to the memorial is higher than the base of the trees, so I doubt the roots would have caused it.

Marrickville War Memorial & 2 Pine trees

Council said last week they would look at the trees, not that they will be removing them.  I ask that Council do not decide to remove any of these trees, even the small Pine that leans. This tree is too small to hurt anyone & has probably grown in a lean because of the strong wind that comes down this corridor. There is ample room for pedestrians to pass so it does not need pruning.

Traditionally in Australia, Pine trees, especially the Aleppo Pine, have been planted at WW1 memorials because Pines trees were at Gallipoli.  Pine trees also symbolize life & immortality.  All but one of the trees outside Marrickville Town Hall are reasonably old & all but one are in good condition. I think it amazing that

Trees along the side of Marrickville Town Hall - home to thousands of small birds

they have survived considering the conditions they are planted in.

The tall Pines that flank the wall alongside & at the front of the Town Hall are home to at least 2,000 small birds. If you like birds, dusk is a great time to visit. Just sit on a bench & listen. The noise from the birds settling in for the night is fabulous. It’s an instant pick-me-up.

There has been new planting recently, but unfortunately many of the plants are dying for lack of water especially those to the right of the library door.

As I am writing this post, an e-mail arrived

Forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall- the arrow shows the bench - St Clements Anglican Church in the background

regarding questions I had asked earlier in the day about the trees. One of my colleagues reckons the pine trees there look a bit ragged, don’t provide shade & haven’t aged too well.

This is a problem when an area looks barren.  I think it is the environment that makes the trees look ragged.  All the trees except one outside the Library are healthy. The ‘ragged’ tree along side the Libary wall could do with a prune to allow it to rejuvenate.  It needn’t be cut down in my opinion, but if it were, it would be best to replant the same species.

I’d like to see this space be made more inviting. Marrickville Town Hall is a beautiful building inside & out  & is the entrance to Marrickville shopping strip from the western direction.  The trees that are there are lovely in my opinion, but there is loads of room for other shade trees to be planted.

Like the area outside the Hub in Newtown, the forecourt of Marrickville Town Hall could be made into a place that is inviting for the community to use.  Benches could be put around the trees encouraging

Another view of the forecourt outside Marrickville Town Hall

people to sit. As I mentioned, this area in summer is very hot & we need to start working on public areas that contribute to the Heat Island Effect. The pebblecrete would disappear visually if the eyes were drawn to large shady trees.

To finish on a good note, I noticed that Marrickville Council has recently planted around 16 new street trees on both sides of Marrickville Road near Marrickville Fire Station.  I hope the trees survive, as they will green up this section of Marrickville Road nicely.

I have many photos of Winged Victory & will post one if I can find it.

1919 photo of the opening of the Marrickville War Memorial that hangs in the Marrickville Fire Station

No disrespect intended - here is Elvis visiting the Marrickville War Memorial today

Street tree planting Marrickville Road