Out with the old

Here’s an outdoor room with creek-side views, a beautiful place to watch the sun set over Coal and Allied Stadium (or Tinkler Fields or whatever it’s called this week). For a dumped settee it looked to be in quite good nick, though by the time I got back from my walk the cushions had already disappeared.

I’ve been watching the renovation of this tiny place on the corner of Clyde Street and Emerald Street. It seems to be having every original feature removed; each week there’s a pile of dados or wooden window frames or turned-wood struts lying on the pavement ready for the tip. I appreciate that houses age and, if things aren’t cared for, they rot or stop functioning. But it’s sad – and incongruous – to fit bland aluminium windows into a period framework.

That boxy looking thing on the verandah is an old cast iron stove, which has probably been in the kitchen for a hundred years. A quick Google finds a few Metters Bega No. 3 stoves on sale or through eBay, one for $550. Blimey.

If there’s one building in Hamilton North that I could get my hands on, though, it’s the old Gas & Coke building. I’ve blogged before about the Gas & Coke building, and I’ve had any number of people tell me how they’d love to reinvent it as an artists’ palace, a refugee centre, an IT start-up node, a dojo, a … you name it. Jemena (the owners of the gasworks site) recently replaced the broken windows and disconnected the temporary electricity rig-up that squatters had put in, but now it’s been broken into again.

Someone sent me some pictures of the interior. Here’s a shot of Clyde Street lights from the inside.

The building is still in remarkably good condition. The pressed-metal ceilings are absolutely gorgeous, even with those cheesy light fittings and room dividers.

This must be among the best examples of pressed metalwork in the city.

It’s part of the city’s industrial heritage too. There’s a story attached to this strong room, with its heavy duty safe door. But does anyone know it?

But, worryingly, water is starting to get in through the roof. Parts of the metal ceiling are rusting and the paint’s peeling from dampness in the brickwork.

I was talking to some friends about this dilemma: how do you convert a general sense – shared by many people, that this place has massive potential – how do you convert this feeling into action? Mobilisation?

I’ve written to Jemena before, without response. If we can’t love our iconic post office then what hope does the poor old Gas & Coke building have?


7 Responses to Out with the old

  1. You get some like minded people and form an action group. lots of meetings and writing and finding people who will support a cohesive proposal. I’d be in on it.

    • Mark MacLean says:

      You’re right. I think the deal-breaker is that I have to get off my backside and organise it.

  2. I reckon Renew Newcastle would be able to help out with this. It’s exactly the sort of thing they do.


    • Mark MacLean says:

      They do seem like the obvious starting point. I think it’s got to the point where I’m just going to DO IT!

  3. Delia Wright says:

    I love this building and agree it should have new life breathed into it.
    I think Renew Newcastle, as mentioned above, would be a good place to start and maybe a bit of crowd funding to pay for a project set up?
    I am going to subscribe to this blog so I can keep up with any news 🙂

    • Mark MacLean says:

      There seems to be no amount of love for this little place but transferring that love into some useful function for it has been much harder than I ever expected. It’s been subject to vandalism (again) and, at the moment, its best option seems to be getting completely boarded up by Jemena until a buyer comes along. 😦

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