Presidents Report – March 2020

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When our February Chimes was published we were just starting off our usual busy program for the following months. Our historical bus tours for the Seniors Festival event were up and running and we were preparing for our history – packed Autumn Colours program to start. How things can change in less than a month!

The onset of the Corona Virus pandemic meant that we had to change how we operate and what we do. Our committee decided that we needed to close our centre and not attend the library from 15th March.  We initially thought we would review in a fortnight but then the Federal Government closed community centres and we do not know how long it will be before we can open again.

Most of our members are in the vulnerable age group and we want to keep everyone safe so we are still closed for face to face contact but members can still access our website, contact via email for assistance, or join our members only Facebook page which has been set up so that we can have contact  with each other.

Graeme has kindly put a piece together in the Chimes for a corona virus update on other ways that we can have contact with members.  Our new Facebook site for members to keep in contact is   BFHG Members Only Page.

Ground penetrating Radar Project – “Penetrating the Past”

In March 2019 our committee took on the challenge to have ground penetrating radar carried out on the former female factory site in the vicinity of William and Charlotte Streets in Bathurst. With the initial assistance of Councillor Jacqui Rudge,  and the expertise of Dr Robin McLachlan,  Dr Louise Steding and her team were engaged to carry out this work.

In September 2019 the GPR project was carried out.  Due to unforeseen circumstances the findings of the GPR was not presented to us until 14th March when Dr Steding presented her findings. Her findings are listed below

DISCUSSION.  (From Dr Louise Steding’s report)

Do appear to be likely remnants of the female factory in Charlotte Street and at its intersection with William Street. Remnants of a possible feature also extend along the frontage of former Police buildings in William Street. No convincing regular patterning appears in front of No.15 William Street. Further interpretation may be made from the GPR plans provided in which depths and associations are indicated. Deeper feature in Charlotte Street and possible feature along William Street have three possibilities: 1. Either may be a service trench not shown on Council plans provided. 2. They radargrams may represent physical remains from the early 19th Century: In Charlotte Street the feature (shown as ‘A’ in Figure 4.2) may be the rear wall of Female factory, as shown in the 1831, 1832, 1844 and 1846 Town Plans. In William Street the feature shown as ‘B’ in Figure 4.1), may be a wall associated with adjacent structures at this location; 3. In either case, service trenches might run alongside surviving features. At the first house site, a patch of anomalies is located where cracks have appeared in the surface concrete. Concrete does tend to crack were subsurface compaction varies. In this instance, it may be from the presence of demolition rubble. The potential presence of any portion of these early buildings and their subsequent phases of occupation from 1815 to 1844 will be highly significant as an early part of Bathurst and Australia’s convict past. The survival of physical remains would add a dynamic dimension to the town’s rich heritage, in this instance, specifically at William and Charlotte Streets. This raises the question of whether to conserve, expose, or excavate. Excavation is inherently destructive. The removal of surviving features will be permanent. Conservation would leave the past buried and questions unanswered. Alternatively, exposure of certain high potential areas, as identified by GPR, presents possibilities for community interaction.