Historical relics from the former Fitz Roy Iron Works site in Mittagong, given to council in trust, have disappeared.
Around 200 large sandstone blocks, 1000 hand-made bricks and several cupolas were entrusted to Wingecarribee Shire Council in 2006, following the site’s development by Woolworths into the Highlands Marketplace.
It is understood that an internal council investigation this year concluded that no sandstone or bricks could be located.
In an email sent by council deputy general manager, operations, finance and risk Barry Paull, it was noted: “without the knowledge of council staff who have left council, we are unable to locate or confirm the whereabouts of the stone, and believe the material has been removed.”
In 2006, Southern Highland News reported that former mayor Gordon Lewis and deputy mayor Nick Campbell-Jones had expressed concern to fellow councillors that the relics had been given away for private use.
“That they could fall into private hands when they are of public interest is of concern to us all,” Cr Lewis said at the time.
The former council conducted an investigation at the time and found managed to locate some of the sandstone at a private property in Wildes Meadow. The sandstone was subsequently returned.
Highlands historian, Dr Leah Day OAM said the relics had been delivered to the Resource Recovery Centre (RRC) in Moss Vale in June, 2006 for storage until plans for an entrance wall in Mittagong could commence.
By 2009, plans were underway for the wall’s construction with drawings and costings made and the involvement of a stonemason by council’s former park assets manager Peter Bowmer. Mr McCartney said the project lost momentum after the departure of Mr Bowmer and by 2013, Dr Day became aware that the relics were up for sale at the RRC.
That they could fall into private hands when they are of public interest is of concern to us allFormer Mayor Gordon Lewis in 2006
Dr Day immediately alerted council and was advised that some of the sandstone had been used in garden borders at the RRC and the entrance wall project would “need a driver to start the process again.”
In 2017, part of the former iron works site was redeveloped into Alexandra Square and featured newly acquired sandstone. Mr McCartney enquired with council as to why they had not included the iron works sandstone blocks and was met with confusion.
“I said: ‘It would have been a beautiful marriage of the relics and the site’ and they said: ‘what relics?’, they had no idea what I was talking about,” Mr McCartney said.
“Why did council spend thousands on stone when you had hundreds in storage? How do you lose more than 200 large stones and a thousand bricks?” he said.
When asked what might have happened to the historical relics, Dr Day indicated she was not too hopeful. “I have a feeling there on a sandstone wall out on someone’s property somewhere,” she said.
Council has been contacted for comment.
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