Wingham has always been a heritage town, built on the classic British Town Square design, where gracious colonial style buildings face the village green – an oasis of social activities from cricket to concerts.
It was a clever marketing move to designate and trade on the Heritage Town concept for Wingham.
Those thinkers and people with vision could see trading on and developing the charming country heritage town was a terrific idea for businesses and tourism.
So what happens? The dollar kicks in . . . developers and business owners or others with deep pockets, decide they have a better idea – let’s pull those “old” buildings down.
Why not think, this could be restored, copied, rebuilt in the same style to fit in with the Heritage concept, and continue the attractive theme of the town. But no, the wreckers go in with chainsaws at dawn and under Council’s instructions.
So we lost the Wingham Hotel and their rare classic stables, the last of their kind in NSW, plus Cochrane’s Palace Emporium and the Australian Joint Stock Bank at the entrance to Wingham. And we are left with empty storefronts and an ugly parking lot and a ghostly empty grassy lot.
But wait . . . there is indeed more.
Council is currently contemplating approving a Coles Service Station for the site.
Yes. Welcome to Heritage Wingham where a supermarket service station with, one assumes, it’s attendant Servo and cheap prices, will grace the iconic entrance to our township.
Why? It is completely inappropriate. It will undercut and harm existing businesses. It is too close to the school.
Says Robert Milliken at hearing the news of a proposed Service Station on the site ; ‘I grew up in Wingham when my parents owned the Wingham Hotel. The building opposite, The Palace Emporium, on the corner of Isabella and Wynter Streets, the proposed development site, was a charming nineteenth century building with a veranda upstairs, via a magnificent cedar staircase, complementing the hotel. Both buildings have tragically disappeared, but they defined Wingham’s heritage character at the town’s entrance. I believe any development on that site should reflect that character, especially as the heritage central park and school buildings directly opposite have survived.”
Both Eric and Mave Richardson are on the GTCC Heritage Advisory Committee and feel strongly also, ‘This committee has discussed the preliminary proposal and has expressed concerns as to its suitability and stated, “It is considered that the construction of a service station on that site would be in direct conflict with the heritage image many people have worked for decades to develop and promote.
Wingham`s Central Park is of historic significance and is the centrepiece of the town. It is bordered by buildings which complement the heritage image. We consider construction of a service station on the corner of the entrance to the town to be both unecessary and entirely inappropriate. Additionally, there are already several service stations in Wingham – one only around the corner from the proposed site, opposite the Wingham Brush Public school.”
John Hancock is a new business owner in Wingham, the proprietor of the Bank Guesthouse and The Vault Restaurant and has this to say, ‘A third petrol station in Wingham is just crazy. A pretty little heritage town with no traffic lights does not need another multi-national! We have guests staying every week up here from Sydney looking to buy property, because they want to get away from the hustle-bustle, fashions and fumes down south. Let’s encourage new, enterprising business investment in this town, not ho-hum petrol stations.’
So what do you think? Why do those in charge, albeit temporarily, and those with the dollars, aim for the lowest common denominator and fast bucks instead of aiming to raise the bar, think big and clever and inspirational? Destruction of heritage buildings removes any chance of developing them with vision later.
Who do we want to attract to our towns and villages? How can we market and sell ourselves as something secret and special? Yes, the roads are the pits, but that’s not the be all and end all of life as we know it in this area. Bring on the vision, the enterprise and some entrepreneurs and smart thinkers and see where roads lead us!