Lost landmarks of Rose City heritage

The former Barnes flour mill - on the site of what today is Ray Bunch Machinery on Lyons Street. Demolished - July 1986.

It may only be a toilet block, but the Warwick Town Hall toilets are adjacent to Dornbusch Lane, named in honour of Conrad Dornbusch, one half of the architectural firm Dornbusch and Connolly, who as well as the toilets designed some of Warwick’s other fine buildings and landmarks, including St Mary’s Catholic Church, the Warwick General Cemetery, the Criterion Hotel and some notable homes in town, including ‘Avalon’ on Glengallan Road, the Dornbusch family home in the late 1800s.

Dornbusch and Connolly also designed and built the Johnsons Buildings on Palmerin Street, with Dornbusch Lane alongside them.

Warwick’s RANGE residents action group president Peter Kemp said if demolished, the toilet block would be added to the list of other historically-significant heritage structures torn down over the years in Warwick – which markets its heritage as a key attraction for visitors and new residents.

Here, Peter Kemp shares his thoughts on Warwick’s lost heritage…

OPINION – ‘The Ghosts of our Heritage’

Sandstone buildings of business, vibrant shops and a place to have a meal and a beer – one by one these icons of our town and epitome of a prosperous rural life have gone. Not fallen into disrepair, rather ripped from the heart of the town, violently and ruthlessly.

“Make way for progress”, they called from the chambered den as their robes fell on the pioneer’s dusty streets and their gold chains rattled in chorus. People will come from far and wide to see our new town – the magnificent square awnings, not those old bull-nosed things from a past time.

The hitching rails, the long horse trough, the fire alarm post, they have to go as well and those magnificent palms in middle of the main street, we need to cut them down – tell them it’s the sparrows and send the chainsaws in early so no one can complain.

We need to modernise this place, that pool is old and we will say it leaks – we need a new facility, a smaller pool, heated for winter, so Mr Portley’s grand Olympic Pool was ripped out.

We need modern banks, so the Commonwealth, National, Bank of Sydney, Bank of New South Wales and Commercial banks were ripped down.

The Australian Hotel, torn down to make way for a new council office. The Bank of Sydney overlooking Mr Byrnes – “We need a modern glass building to keep up with the times” was the cry. One by one we demolished timeless sandstone buildings, all with council approval – we chased a dream of a futuristic modern metropolis, not stopping to realise those buildings were the ones tourists wanted to see and feel.

The small lavatory block behind the Town Hall will be 90 years old soon – we will tell them it is ugly, falling down and unsafe. In is place we will put in a couple of new carparks that will attract tourists – the same hollow, pathetic cry echoed for decades.

The line in the sand needs to be drawn. Have we not lost enough of our heritage? Will our history say, “What on Earth were they thinking?” Let us stop this senseless demolition of our town’s heart and soul, let us wreck no more and preserve what we have left.

The RANGE Action Group has lodged a ‘Notice to Reconsider’ to the mayor so this motion can be redebated, as not all councillors were in attendance when this was voted on previously. Under the rules it had to be tabled at the February council meeting. The group has notified the SDRC of this error, and to make this is the most important item for the March meeting on the 28th.

The council said they made mistakes in the past. It happens, but to repeat the mistakes is another matter. The councillors need to listen to the people and publicly state their position on this issue. Let us stop those mistakes now. Contented be, nor itch for further store.

*This is an old article that has been digitised so our readers have access to our full catalogue.