|About the Book|
As a lover of beautiful old buildings this is a book that was bound to make me depressed and I am! It is simply shameful - many of the losses. Yet, I am a fairly realistic person as well and its obvious that some of the buildings were doomed for various reasons - ruinous conditions, completely in the way of necessary development and lack of interest. This book highlights the major losses. As Shirley Fitzgerald explains in her introduction: No such records exist for most houses and very little is known about those which disappeared in the first half of the nineteenth century. Except that they did go. Practically every house in the inner, oldest streets was demolished and replaced with grander houses, with shops, factories and solid commercial buildings. In place of a Georgian town we got a Victorian city. And later she writes: This kind of destruction happens slowly by accretion. Eventually memories fade and the imagination fails.For me as a reader of this book and a lover of history, there are standout catastrophes. Subiaco is the main one of course - an amazing building to look at, was one of the first Palladian buildings in Australia. It was demolished for a car park. There is the elegant St Malo demolished for the Fig Tree Bridge. And Government Stock Farm built in 1815 and allowed to fall into ruinous decay.Perhaps what is most frustrating is the houses that have been demolished and the land for whatever reason left vacant. Why the hell were they demolished in the first place? A car park is terrible. To be torn down and nothing then done with the land is criminal. So many beautiful buildings gone with only photographs remaining. We need to hold onto and incorporate into the 21st century the old and beautiful buildings that remain in Sydney and for that matter the rest of Australia. I am, unfortunately not confident that most of the buildings that should be saved, will be saved.