Heritage Impacts and Issues, Parramatta: Response to EIS Submissions – Kylie Winkworth

Kylie Winkworth
November, 2020

Read here, for a link to the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and its reports and community responses, https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/project/26576?fbclid=IwAR0bB-du2l8qvLLOoTEoS-6fBmRsQNumHAwb5O2hQsqaoxFSoeAtba7vx1I

Powerhouse Parramatta EIS and Response to Submissions SSD-10416
Heritage Impacts and Issues

1:  No Alternate Locations for the Parramatta Museum were Analysed in the EIS

The RTS records that 91% of public submissions on the EIS raised concerns about heritage impacts. It states that the subject site is the most suitable location for the Powerhouse Parramatta as outlined in the EIS.[1] As the attached analysis shows, this is not correct. The EIS does not demonstrate that the Phillip St site is the most suitable location for the Powerhouse Parramatta.  It does not include an evaluation of any alternate locations for a new museum. Option 2 the alternative location is only a statement that the Phillip St site is the best location.[2] This is an assertion without any explanation or evidence.

The location of the museum on the Phillip St site is entirely discretionary. It follows that the demolition of Willow Grove is unnecessary. The failure to consider alternate locations for the museum, such as the Fleet St/ Female Factory Precinct, means the SEARS requirements under 8 Social, and 6 Heritage and Archaeology have not been met; (8 considers all remaining feasible alternatives and comparatively analyses their respective social impacts and benefits; and 6 the EIS shalldemonstrate attempts to avoid and/or mitigate the impacts on the heritage significance and cultural heritage values of the site). Devastating heritage impacts could be entirely avoided by moving the museum to another location.

The NSW Government and INSW must not ignore the overwhelming public criticism of the development on the basis of its heritage impacts. It must investigate other sites for the museum as required by SEARS for the EIS. On nearly all measures the Fleet St Precinct is a better location for the museum.

2:  The SOHI Failed to Investigate and Assess the Significance of Willow Grove

The demolition of Willow Grove was justified in the EIS by Advisian’s Statement of Heritage Impact (SOHI) and its ‘relocation’ in the addendum Statement of Heritage Impact. [3] The heritage impact assessment on which their advice was based is seriously deficient in its investigation and assessment of Willow Grove. Any assessment of significance requires independent research and investigation. Assessing significance is not a cut and paste exercise. The methodology outlined in Appendix G relied on copying information from earlier reports and listings, without any apparent research or independent investigation. No effort was made to update information or check the sources of previous research. This is not consistent with the NSW Heritage Manual Guidelines.  If there is no investigation of significance the heritage impacts of the proposed demolition or ‘move’ of Willow Grove cannot be assessed.

Among notable failures and oversights, the SOHI report and Addendum:

  • Misattributes the construction date of Willow Grove as between 1870-1880 when it was 1891
  • Does not identify Annie Gallagher as the owner of Willow Grove in 1890, or its sale in 1903. A chain of ownership for Willow Grove should have been a basic due diligence ingredient in the SOHI.
  • Does not identify the architect of Willow Grove, Sydney Moore Green
  • Failed to identify the rarity and significance of Willow Grove as a site owned, built and operated by a succession of women, in their own right, from 1879 to 1953
  • Missed the significance of Willow Grove as part of Parramatta’s commercial history, a rare and substantial villa built by an entrepreneurial Parramatta business woman from the profits of her millinery, drapery and haberdashery business in Church St
  • Overlooked the rarity of Willow Grove as the last remaining villa in Parramatta representing an important pattern of landscape development of villas set gardens running down to the Parramatta River. Notably these villas were owned and built by the professional and commercial classes of Parramatta, underlining the significance of Parramatta as the commercial centre for Western Sydney and the mountains.
  • Made no inquires as to the social value of Willow Grove, and failed to consult and engage with appropriate local stakeholders, although at the time the assessment was prepared it was the subject of a major public campaign to save the site
  • Failed to identify the significance of Willow Grove for Dharug people or consult them to consider their views about the heritage impacts

In its advice on determining applications based on heritage impact statements the NSW Heritage Manual asks: is the Statement of Heritage Impact …. a true assessment of the significance of the item and impact of the proposal? [4] The answer is no. See also 3 below.

The Advisian SOHI does not meet the SEARS requirements under 6 Heritage and Archaeology (assess the heritage impacts of the proposal on the heritage significance of these items, demonstrate attempts to avoid or mitigate the impacts on heritage significance, and demonstrate engagement with appropriate local stakeholders). The SOHI does not meet the SEARS requirements as it has not demonstrated any attempt to avoid the destructive impacts on the heritage significance and cultural values of Willow Grove by considering alternative locations for the museum. The proposed mitigation measures in no way offset the destructive impact of the proposal on the cultural significance of Willow Grove. Furthermore, the company do not appear to be suitably qualified heritage consultants.

3:  Investigating the Heritage Significance of Willow Grove  

Recognising that the SOHI for Willow Grove was not based on any apparent historical research or proper investigation of significance, the PMA and NPRAG commissioned the eminent public historian Dr Terry Kass to prepare an historical report on Willow Grove, see attached.

Dr Kass’s historical report has changed our understanding of the significance of Willow Grove. His research has revealed a remarkable history of women’s ownership of Willow Grove from Rebecca Ellis who owned the site from 1879-1890, to Annie Gallagher who built Willow Grove in 1891 from the proceeds of her millinery and drapery business, to the matrons and sisters who used Willow Grove as a private hospital under the names Estella (1919-1923); Westcourt; and Aloha Private Hospital (1925-1953). Notably these women in business were providing nursing and maternity services for women, and caring for women’s culture. Dr Kass identified the date of Willow Grove’s construction, 1891, and the architect, Sydney Moore Green, who practiced for a number of years in partnership with Thomas Rowe. Willow Grove was likely one of his early commissions after going into independent practice. In 1907 became assistant government architect.

Terry Kass and the historian Catherine Bishop have confirmed the rarity of Willow Grove as a place owned by and associated with women in business.[5] Annie Gallagher, nee Hanley, started her haberdashery, millinery and drapery business – The Sydney Gem in Church St Parramatta in 1883. When she married Thomas Gallagher in 1884 he married into her business. After just seven years in business she had enough money to buy Willow Grove and finance the construction of a new house on the site.

Since Terry Kass’s report was completed further research has uncovered more about Willow Grove’s history, uses and its occupants. Clive Lucas found a second tender for Willow Grove’s construction on the 17 January/ 21 January 1891. The first tender was for the construction for a cottage.[6]  The second tender was for the construction of a villa.[7] It seems probable the second tender added another storey to the design of the cottage, turning it into a villa; hence the first level floor plan is a mirror of the ground floor plan. In a matter of weeks in December 1890 the Gallaghers decided they needed a larger and more impressive house, and had the money to fund it.

Within months of moving into Willow Grove in 1891 Annie Gallagher and her husband, newly elected to Parramatta Council, were struck by the Asiatic or Russian flu pandemic then raging in Parramatta. After an illness of ten days Thomas Gallagher died, aged 36.[8] His nurse Maria Swan died a few days later, lauded for her sacrifice and heroism, though only a woman.[9] The pandemic brought a lot of hardship to families in Parramatta including the Gallaghers.[10] Annie Gallagher was left a widow with three children, the youngest just 14 months. The 1892 depression that followed the pandemic put pressure on Annie Gallagher’s finances. She took out a mortgage on Willow Grove in March 1892. Perhaps some of this money was used to complete the impressive iron palisade and stone fence, the capitals carved with the name ‘Willow Grove’. After taking on more debt Annie Gallagher was forced to sell Willow Grove and her stock in trade in 1903. She never got back on her feet in in the haberdashery business.

4:  Willow Grove is of State Heritage Significance

Far from being an item of local heritage significance Willow Grove meets the threshold for State significance and merits listing on the State Heritage Register.

Criterion a: An item is important in the course, or pattern, of NSW’s cultural or natural history
Willow Grove is an important part of Parramatta’s commercial history, being a rare and substantial villa built in 1891 by Annie Gallagher, an entrepreneurial Parramatta business woman, from the profits of her millinery, drapery and haberdashery business The Sydney Gem, located in Church St. At the time she bought the site, Phillip St was one of the premier residential addresses for the professional and commercial classes.[11] After just seven years in the millinery, drapery and haberdashery business, Annie Gallagher had made enough money to buy the Phillip St site and finance the construction of Willow Grove. Her success evidences not just her entrepreneurial acumen, but the importance of Parramatta as a thriving commercial centre for Western Sydney.  Willow Grove demonstrates the status and long history of Parramatta as a commercial centre which is significant at a state level. It’s location in Phillip St, around the corner from the main commercial hub of Church St, illuminates the interrelationship of commercial activities and high quality residential houses. Willow Grove is the last surviving place demonstrating a once common pattern of development of substantial villas set in gardens along the Parramatta River.
Willow Grove is associated with both the 1891 and 1919 flu pandemics, providing rare insights into the personal impacts of the pandemics and community health responses.

Criterion b: An item has strong or special associations with the life or works of a person, or
group of persons, of importance in NSW’s cultural or natural history
Willow Grove has strong and special associations with nurses and midwives. It is significant as a place that provided medical and maternity services as a private hospital from 1919-1953. Of note the site was owned by women, and managed by a succession of matrons and sisters providing health and maternity services to families across Sydney. The setting of Willow Grove, with a substantial garden running down to the river, was part of the restful amenity the place offered to patients and mothers to aid their recovery. Willow Grove’s use as a hospital in the first half of the 20th century is part of a pattern of development of once numerous small scale private hospitals providing health and maternity services, owned and managed by matrons and sisters.

The self-sacrificing death of Nurse Maria Swann in 1891, who died in Willow Grove after caring for Thomas Gallagher in the Asiatic flu pandemic, provides a poignant insight into the risks and dedication of nurses and health workers that resonates today through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. [12] Notably the house is adapted as the Estella Private Hospital in 1919, in the midst of the Spanish flu pandemic.

Willow Grove was designed by the notable architect Sydney Moore Green in 1890-91. The villa is one of his first commissions after leaving his partnership with Thomas Rowe (1884-1890). Sydney Moore Green was an early and active member of the Institute of Architects, and later became Assistant Government Architect in 1907.[13]

Criterion c: An item is important in demonstrating aesthetic characteristics and/or a high degree of creative or technical achievement in NSW
Willow Grove is a fine example of an Italianate villa designed by the architect Sydney Moore Green in 1890. Kass notes that Sydney Moore Green gave a paper to the Institute of Architects on The Queen Anne’s Style in 1885. The Italianate design of Willow Grove comes towards the end of this architectural style. The relatively late use of this style may reflect the conservative taste of Annie Gallagher and her husband, designed as a statement of their prosperity and success, and the Italianate villas that Annie Gallagher knew as a resident of Newtown, and saw elsewhere in the inner west from the train line to Parramatta.

Willow Grove has rare and highly valued landmark qualities for its location in Phillip St Parramatta, long known and recognised as an important heritage place, in a generous garden setting with mature trees and plantings. Notwithstanding the DJs carpark development cutting off the address to the river, the house retains much of its curtilage and impressive frontage to Phillip St, demonstrating the distinctive aesthetic qualities of the typical Italianate villa. The house is the last survivor of a notable pattern of landscape development of residential villas for professional and commercial people set in picturesque gardens along the Parramatta River.

Criterion d: An item has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW (or the local area) for social, cultural or spiritual reasons

Willow Grove has outstanding social and spiritual values for the Dharug people. It is one of the few heritage places in Parramatta that is untainted by associations with government intervention, control and incarceration. Its archaeological resources are relatively intact.  The Dharug Strategic Management Group have made three powerful representations about the significance of Willow Grove as part of their Nura.[14] Their views about the significance of Willow Grove cannot be ignored. The river at this point has particular significance for the Dharug people. Before European intervention in the river it was the zone where the fresh water met the salt, and therefore the place where eels were easily caught as they migrate between the salt and freshwater to spawn. This is why they called this place Burramatta – meaning place where they have eels.  This area of the river below Willow Grove and towards the Wilde Ave Bridge was marked by large flat stones which at low tide created pools of shallow water ideal for catching eels. Dharug people have oral histories of accessing the river through the garden of Willow Grove.

The Dharug people have a nationally significant history in the survival and resilience of their enduring culture and associations with Parramatta and the landscape of Western Sydney, pre and post contact. Among many Aboriginal leaders known from the first decades of European colonisation, the Dharug trace their genealogy to Maria Lock, one of the first students placed in the Parramatta Native Institution, which was near St Johns. Maria Locke and her clan were present at the first annual conference or meeting of the tribes that Macquarie organised in 1814 to recognise the obligations owed to the First Nations People from the loss of their lands and resources. This was held in the market place next to St Johns. Her father Yarramundi, was a karadji, or doctor, who met Governor Phillip and Watkin Tench on their first exploration of the Hawkesbury. He placed her in the Native Institution where she excelled and won a major prize in 1819.[15] Maria Locke was an extraordinary woman walking between two worlds in the first decades of disruption, colonisation and destruction. As a sixteen year old Aboriginal girl she married the convict Robert Lock in St Johns, and he was assigned to her as a servant. It was the first recorded formal marriage between an Aboriginal woman and a convict. Maria Locke tenaciously pursued her right to land through three governorships.[16] The whole cultural landscape of Parramatta is still tremendously resonant for Dharug people and first contact stories.

Willow Grove has social value for the Parramatta community and many people concerned about the ongoing destruction of the heritage and character of Parramatta, a place of national significance for its early settlement and first contact history. This includes an extended network of people with family histories connected to Parramatta. The social value of Willow Grove is demonstrated in the 14,000 signatures on a petition organised by the North Parramatta Residents Action Group (NPRAG) gathered in just four days, and in the sustained protests since the demolition of Willow Grove was unveiled with the winning museum competition design in December 2019. The CFMEU Green Ban evidences the social value and community recognition of the importance of the site. Love hearts on the Willow Grove fence, crafty activism, and messages of support on social media all speak to the inspiration and depth of feeling about the importance of Willow Grove.

Willow Grove is significant to people born in the house during its life as a maternity hospital, to their family descendants, and to an extended community of nurses and midwives. NPRAG have gathered birth certificates and testimony from individuals born in the house, those with family associations, and comments from nurses and midwives interested in recognising places that demonstrate the history and development of hospitals and maternity services, notably pioneered by matrons and sisters.

Criterion e: an item has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of NSW’s cultural or natural history
Willow Grove has outstanding archaeological potential of particular significance for Dharug people, and as a site associated with the early development of Parramatta.  It has the potential to yield new and substantial archaeological information.
Criterion f: An item possesses uncommon, rare or endangered aspects of NSW’s cultural or natural history
Willow Grove provides rare evidence and insights into women as property owners and successful entrepreneurs. The site was owned by women in their own right from 1879 to 1953. It was bought by Annie Gallagher in 1890, and she and her husband commissioned the villa which was built in 1891. Phillip St was one of the best residential addresses for the commercial and professional classes of Parramatta, so it is a statement of Annie Gallagher’s success and prosperity. The scale of the house, which apparently doubled in size between two tenders in December 1890 and January 1891, underlines the volume and profits from her drapery, millinery and haberdashery business The Sydney Gem. It demonstrates the ambitions of the Gallaghers, her entrepreneurial flair, and the importance of Parramatta as a commercial centre for Western Sydney and the mountains until the 1950s.

Willow Grove is named for the willows that grew in its garden, possibly predating the 1891 villa. The house, which retains much of its setting is the last example of a once common pattern of development along the Parramatta River of estates and villas set in park-like grounds with gardens running down to the river. The setting and curtilage is an integral part of the significance of the place.

As a place that represents the success of women in business, Willow Grove makes a unique contribution to understanding women’s history as part of the cultural landscape of Parramatta from the beginnings of European colonisation. In the context of Parramatta’s heritage it is part of an extraordinary sequence of women’s heritage sites unmatched in Australia. These include

  • Elizabeth Farm 1793, home to Elizabeth Macarthur and later the Swann sisters who were instrumental in saving the house
  • Its near neighbour Hambledon Cottage 1824 built by Elizabeth Macarthur for her friend and governess Penelope Lucas; (now the home of Parramatta and District Historical Society, the oldest local historical society in Australia founded in 1913)
  • Experiment Farm, site of the home of Elizabeth Ruse who worked side by side with her husband James Ruse to produce the first wheat crop
  • Old Government House, home to Elizabeth Macquarie, among a number of governors’ wives
  • The Female Orphan School 1818
  • The Female Factory begun in 1818, completed in 1821
  • The Dairy Cottage in Parramatta Park, home to the dairy maid Elizabeth Eccles from around 1813-35
  • The Parramatta Girls Industrial School

No other city in Australia has such an exceptional range of women’s heritage places dating from the foundation of European settlement, spanning all classes and cultures, and including some of the most significant heritage sites in Australia. Willow Grove’s history of women in business, and nurses, matrons and midwives caring for mothers and babies, is a rare and important part of this heritage estate at a time when women’s history is still not well reflected in heritage places designated as state significant, or their interpretation.

Most significantly in the remarkable span of women’s sites, cultures and histories in Parramatta is the importance of Willow Grove for Dharug women, and the descendants of cultural leaders like Maria Locke. In powerful statements they continue to assert their right to have the value of Dharug places and stories of being, belonging and becoming recognised, respected and protected. [17]

5:  The Relocation of Willow Grove is the Demolition of Willow Grove

There is no heritage justification for the proposal to ‘move’ Willow Grove to a location possibly near Parramatta Jail in the Fleet St precinct. Neither the SOHI nor the Addendum, properly analyse the landscape setting and context of Willow Grove which is an integral part of its significance. A very basic question for any heritage assessment is ‘why is this building where it is?’. That question is not answered in the Advisian reports, which has led to a deficient SOHI and now the ludicrous proposal to ‘move’ Willow Grove.
Among many serious concerns and objections:

  • The significance of Willow Grove is integral to its Phillip St site and its garden and riverside setting. That is why it is where it is. Willow Grove cannot be moved and still retain its significance. The bricks may be reclaimed and some may be reused in building a replica at a cost of $10m+, but the significance of the place will be destroyed. The physical location of a place is part of its cultural significance; (Burra Charter Article 9.1). The aim of conservation is to retain the cultural significance of a place, (Burra Charter 2.2). Moving Willow Grove will destroy its cultural significance.
  • The reason Annie Gallagher built Willow Grove in Phillip St is because it was the premier address for the commercial and professional class of Parramatta, and because it was round the corner from her millinery, drapery and haberdashery business in Church St. It is ridiculous to think of relocating a residential villa built by an entrepreneurial Parramatta businesswoman into a landscape of government institutions reflecting the legacy of convictism and its aftermath.
  • The significance of Willow Grove is inextricably associated with its riverside setting. It was once known for its picturesque garden. The use of Willow Grove for a private hospital and maternity hospital from 1919-1953 was linked to its riverside location and garden which provided a restful setting for recuperation and nursing mothers. The house still retains much of its setting. Its address to the river could be reinstated with the removal of the DJs carpark. That is what Parramatta Council intended when they bought the property in 2015 to deliver their River Strategy.
  • Willow Grove is a rare survivor of a pattern of development along the Parramatta River of estates and villas set in park-like grounds with gardens running down to the river. The setting and curtilage is an integral part of the significance of the place. Conservation requires the retention of an appropriate visual setting and other relationships that contribute to the cultural significance of the place, (Burra Charter Articles 8). This cannot be achieved by demolishing Willow Grove and building a replica on another site.
  • Moving Willow Grove is not a mitigation strategy. It will require the total demolition of the building, reducing it to a pile of rubble. The form of the villa may be fabricated in a replica on some other site but it cannot be moved and retain its cultural significance.
  • There are no heritage precedents for moving a substantial rendered brick building. Unlike a weatherboard building, it can’t be lifted or sectioned and moved on a low loader. It has to be demolished.
  • Advisian’s Addendum Statement of Heritage Impact does not provide any relevant exemplars of a moved building of comparable materials and scale to Willow Grove
  • Moving heritage buildings is a discredited concept in contemporary heritage practice, with the exception of miners’ cottages and vernacular weatherboard buildings of low significance
  • Moving buildings is contrary to the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, notably article 9.1 The physical location of a place is part of its cultural significance. A building … should remain in its historical location. Relocation is generally unacceptable unless this is the sole practical means of ensuring its survival.
  • ‘Moving’ Willow Grove is not the only means of ensuring its survival since there are other locations for the proposed museum that have not been examined in the EIS/ RTS. Places of cultural significance should be safeguarded (Burra Charter, Article 2.4). The location of the museum at Phillip St is discretionary, see 1 above.
  • As noted in 3 and 4 above, Advisian have failed to research and assess the significance of Willow Grove, and therefore the heritage impacts of the proposal to move Willow Grove have not been understood or properly assessed.
  • The views of the Dharug people about the importance of Willow Grove, which are so powerfully expressed in the submissions from the Dharug Strategic Management Group, and their RTS, have been completely ignored.

It is monstrous to propose spending $10m on the demolition and fabrication of a fake replica of Willow Grove when there are heritage buildings all over NSW needing conservation assistance.

6:  Heritage Interpretation is not a Mitigation Strategy

It is not correct for either Heritage NSW or the EIS to require heritage interpretation as a mitigation strategy for heritage loss and demolition. I sat on the Heritage NSW Heritage Interpretation Committee that framed the Best Practice Guidelines for Heritage Interpretation. All the expert committee members were clear that interpretation is part of the conservation of place, in line with Burra Charter principles. Interpretation of themes or relics is not an alternative to heritage conservation of the place, nor is it a means of mitigating deleterious heritage impacts and destruction.

In relation to conditions of consent the Guidelines note:

Conditions of consent The aim of including interpretation as a condition of consent is to provide interpretation of the place in addition to the conservation of the place itself. A

requirement to prepare an Interpretation Plan is to facilitate interpretation, and to follow best practice; it is not an end in itself.[18]

Heritage interpretation is not a mitigation strategy for heritage destruction. Signs, panels, the keeping of relics, exhibitions and oral histories cannot make restitution for the destruction of a significant heritage place, or remediate the grief and loss of trust that is entailed in a heritage demolition, especially when the community has clearly said they want to keep Willow Grove and see the museum development relocated to another site.

7:  Heritage Interpretation Strategy  

The Powerhouse Parramatta Heritage Interpretation Strategy (PPHIS)[19] does not meet the basic requirements for heritage interpretation outlined in the NSW Heritage Information series Interpreting Heritage Places and Items, 2005.[20] The PPHIS is deeply confused about the difference between the museum’s conceptual framework for a generic future local history exhibition, and the interpretation obligations that relate to the demolition of a significant, specific heritage place, with associated destructive impacts from the heritage demolition associated with the museum’s development ambitions. These are two different things. What suits the Powerhouse when it decides to engage with local history may have little to do with the specific heritage values of the place where the museum is intending to plonk its building, or the resulting heritage impacts, or the ideas of the affected communities about this.

The PPHIS does not meet the requirements for best practice interpretation, notably Ingredient 1 – respect the special connections between people and items. Specifically the guideline notes: interpretation is only undertaken with the approval and direct involvement of a traditional owner or an Aboriginal person/s with cultural association. The Powerhouse Parramatta project does not have the consent, approval or direct involvement of Dharug people with cultural associations with the site. Permission to interpret has not been granted. Consultation has taken the form of here is what we are going to do and the development is  non-negotiable, rather than asking what are the stories and values you think should be interpreted and how would you like to be involved?

The PPHIS does not meet the requirements for Ingredient 2  – understand the item and convey its significance. The aim of heritage interpretation is to communicate significance of the place. As explained above, the significance of the site has not been properly investigated, researched, understood or assessed. Interpretation strategies must be grounded in discussion of the significance, history and context of the place or item. The PPHIS fails to specifically explain the significance and history of this particular place.

The PPHIS does not meet the requirements for Ingredient 3 use existing records of the item, research additional information, and make these publicly available. As noted above, the research on this site is deficient. No additional information has been researched, nor have the background papers such as the Stage 3 design brief been made available despite requests.  Information has been withheld from stakeholders since the development on this site was announced in 2016.

The PPHIS does not meet the requirements for Ingredient 4 – explore, respect and respond to the identified audience. At no stage in the six years of development of the Powerhouse Parramatta project has there been an explanation about who the museum is for, why is it needed, and who is the audience.

The PPHIS does not meet the requirements for Ingredient 7 Research the physical, historical, spiritual and contemporary context of the item, including related items, and respect local amenity and culture. By imposing the Powerhouse Parramatta over the objections of the community, local amenity and culture has not been respected. There has been no contextual analysis of the place.

The PPHIS does not meet the requirements for Ingredient 8 – Develop interpretation methods and media which sustain the significance of the items, its character and authenticity. The proposed demolition and relocation of Willow Grove to a site entirely contrary to its context, meanings and significance is neither authentic nor sustainable.

The PPHIS does not meet the requirements for Ingredient 12 – Collaborate with organisations and the local community. While there is a long list of organisations that have been the subject of consultations and collaboration over the Powerhouse Parramatta project, there are inexplicable oversights among museum and heritage organisations.

From the time this project was announced in early 2015 MAAS made little effort to understand or engage with the landscape of museum, history and heritage organisations in Parramatta and Western Sydney. Business groups, arts organisations and regional galleries appear to be of more interest. Notably missing from the consultation lists are Brislington House, Wisteria Gardens, and Parramatta and District Historical Society, based in Hambledon Cottage. The latter is only a kilometre from the Powerhouse Parramatta site. It is the second oldest historical society in NSW, founded in 1913. It has managed a house museum in Hambledon Cottage since 1966. The Society has been publishing Parramatta local histories since 1918.

It shows a troubling lack of curiosity about local history that MAAS and its consultants have not yet registered the existence of the Society while at the same time purporting to connect local histories with the Powerhouse collection.

8: Museums do not Destroy Heritage

Conserving cultural heritage is the underpinning principle of museums. A museum cannot place its development ambitions above its obligations to conserve cultural heritage in all its forms. It is appalling that the NSW Government has put MAAS in a position where it must be party to the destruction of a heritage place that is highly valued by the Parramatta community and by the Dharug people. All over Australia Aboriginal sites and cultural heritage are being destroyed for mines, dams, roads and other developments. But a museum is not just any bit of infrastructure. It must place a high priority on actually listening to Aboriginal voices, and be vigilant to prevent destructive and unwanted heritage impacts, especially given there is another location for the museum.

It is untenable and hypocritical for MAAS to claim it is placing First Nations culture at the core of the Parramatta museum when its first actions are to ignore the strong objections of the Dharug people. How can there be trust and permission to interpret Dharug stories and culture when the project intends to dig up their culture, cover the site they value in concrete, treat their Nura as terra nullius, and turn their living culture and attachment to this riverside site into dead relics in showcases?[21] If the museum can’t listen to, respect and accommodate the objections of the Dharug people in this case, then it is hard to see how it can claim the right to interpret their culture and stories.

Kylie Winkworth
Museum and heritage expert
Powerhouse Museum Alliance
November 2020

[1] Ethos Urban Response to Submissions and Amended Proposal, 8 October 2020, p.9

[2] Ethos Urban Powerhouse Parramatta, Environmental Impact Statement, May 2020, 1.4 Analysis of Alternatives, p.14 https://majorprojects.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/prweb/PRRestService/mp/01/getContent?AttachRef=SSD-10416%2120200602T052935.510%20GMT

[3] Advisian, Powerhouse Parramatta, Statement of Heritage Impact, Infrastructure NSW,  April 2020, Appendix G and Advisian Addendum Statement of Heritage Impact 7 October 2020, Appendix F

[4] NSW Heritage Manual, 7.1 Assessing and Determining Applications under the Heritage Act or the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act

[5] Terry Kass, History of Willow Grove, 34 Phillip St Parramatta, Revised Report, October 2020, p.9

[6] A cottage is a single storey house; a villa is a double story house. Cumberland Mercury, 3 December 1890; Kass, p.11

[7] Cumberland Argus, 17 January 1891; Cumberland Mercury, 21 January 1891

[8] Death of Alderman Gallagher, Cumberland Mercury 7 November 1891

[9] The name of MARIA SWANN should be held in tender and reverent remembrance in Parramatta for all time to come. She was only a woman, engaged in the comparatively humble, though always essentially noble, profession of a nurse, but she was also a true heroine; and like others of earth’s brightest and best, she fell at her post of duty, and died the death of the martyr…… NURSE SWANN had undertaken the task of attending to one, whom his fellow citizens would fain have seen spared, in an illness, which ended at length in death. She did her duty, day and night, unceasingly, unweariedly as none, but a tender, conscientious woman, imbued with a true love of her fellows, can do it. Her charge was hovering between life and death; needing every moment’s care and attention, kept alive perchance a while longer only by that care and attention and the medical skill exhibited in our late friend’s case.  MARIA SWANN never hesitated a single moment when the simple choice lay between her sacred duty and the imminent risk disease and possible death. The medical men in charge of Mr. GALLAGHER urged her to desist from further work; warned her that she was continuing it at the great risk of her own life. Her answer was simple. She pointed to the bed which a few days later proved the deathbed of him she had been called upon to nurse. There was her post of duty and she preferred to cling to it. WHEN that duty was done, ere yet the last sad offices were performed for her charge, she lay down on her bed, suffered in patience— and died…..  All honour then to the true heroine who fell at the post of duty.

Cumberland Mercury 11 November 1891, p.2

[10] WHETHER the complaint which has been working such sad havoc in our midst is ” fever,” as some are now saying, or ” influenza” as we in general have of late been regarding it, certain it is that we have cause to hope that it will be long before our colony has to go through such a trying time again. What it has meant may be judged from the fact that in Tuesday’s Herald (not unlike that of other days) the funeral advertisements reached a column and a half in length. THE influenza trouble is yet abroad, whilst still the doctors confess that, speaking generally, very little is known of the true nature of the disease. There is one thing certain, the call for philanthropic effort is now such as we have never known before in Parramatta; and the only wonder is that no general movement has been made in the direction of establishing a general and comprehensive system of “help-rendering.” IT is said there are families in our midst, all the members of which are ill; and though their cupboards are empty, and their stock of remedies of the slenderest kind, there is no one to whom they can look with any certainty of commanding assistance. THE local doctors have worked like heroes. So few families have escaped—there is scarcely a man, woman, or child in the district but knows well how self-denying have been the efforts of these professional men….. IT is not lip-sympathy that is wanted at present, but practical help; such help as the poor give to the poor, not only at this time, but all through their lives. Now is the opportunity for “others;” and if they do not come forward in a truly ”Christian” spirit, let them not he surprised if when the worst is over, and things return to their normal state again, it is found that ideas as to less “individualism” have gained ground in New South Wales. Our weaker, stricken brethren must not be allowed to pine and starve—without it being recognised as the duty of some person, or some duly constituted body,  acting on behalf of the State, to step in and as far as possible shelter from the coldest blasts of the gale those who are alone in heir to pain and their penury. Cumberland Mercury 11 November 1891, p.2

[11] When Willow Grove was advertised for sale by auction in 1903 to settle Annie Gallagher’s debts, the advertisement noted: This is an exceptional chance for Professional Gentleman [sic] or retired Merchant to secure a fine suburban home. Kass p.21

[12] New research suggests that the 1889-1891 Asiatic flu pandemic may be the first appearance of a corona virus.

[13] Kass, p.12

[14] Dharug Strategic Management Group Ltd, (DSMG) Submission on Powerhouse Parramatta, State Significant Development, 12 July 2020, https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/submission/733596

DSMG RTS Submission on the Powerhouse Parramatta, https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/submission/764291 and DSMG Submission to the Legislative Council Museum Inquiry 8 October 2020, https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/lcdocs/other/13683/Tendered%20document%20-%20Professor%20Richie%20Howitt%20-%208%20October%202020%20(1).pdf

[15] http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lock-maria-13050  and https://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/lock_maria

[16] Maria Locke’s story, and that of the extended Locke family is well told in J Brook and JL Kohen The Parramatta Native Institution and the Black Town; A History, NSW University Press, 1991.

[17] Dharug Strategic Management Group Ltd, Submission on Powerhouse Parramatta, State Significant Development, 12 July 2020, https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/submission/733596


[19] Appendix G Powerhouse Parramatta Heritage Interpretation Strategy, Response to Submissions, September 2020

[20] https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/-/media/OEH/Corporate-Site/Documents/Heritage/local-government-heritage-guidelines.pdf

[21] Dharug Strategic Management Group Ltd, Submission on Powerhouse Parramatta, State Significant Development, 12 July 2020, https://www.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/submission/733596