By Lithgow City Council
The official launch of the Lithgow History Avenue Project at Eskbank House and Museum on Monday, September 9, provided a unique opportunity to go back in time to when Lithgow could be described as the “cradle of industry in the nation”.
Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham welcomed a host of guests from the local community and further afield including representatives of Glencore Coal, project designer Phil Spark and several contributing artists.
Guests were entertained with music by well known local duo Martin Doherty and Leigh Birkett and were introduced to the story of the sculptural works themselves by Mr Spark.
“I am very excited about this project,” Mrs Statham said.
“The sculptures along Inch St are unique, interesting and quite beautiful. More than this, they tell a story about Lithgow and link a number of key heritage sites.
“People should really get out and have a look.”
Funded with the generous support of Glencore Coal and designed and fabricated by local metal artist Phil Spark, Lithgow History Avenue tells the story of Lithgow’s rich industrial and social history.
Mr Spark outlined how he developed the project: “The industrial history of Lithgow and the steel works is a European story and so whilst acknowledging indigenous presence, I decided to start the time line with the European crossing of the mountains in 1813 and end with the closing of the blast furnace in 1929.
“I also wanted to develop a unifying style for the various bits of the work – there is a story that Lithgow provided the rivets for the Harbour Bridge construction. The story is hard to verify but the style of riveted construction provides an interesting design focus and evokes the era that the project is dealing with.
“I wrote an invitation and spoke to people, largely blacksmiths, who were involved in the Lithgow Ironfest. In all, fourteen people were involved in making the twenty-two top sculptures.”
The Lithgow History Avenue project also includes a supporting website, www.lithgow.com/historyavenue which includes a host of interesting information and links related to the history of Lithgow.
“The website is informative, interesting and very attractive so I encourage anyone with an interest in Lithgow’s history and especially school students to visit the website and find out more about our history,” Mrs Statham said.