Picton Railway Station was the site for the launch of the final Anzac Centenary commemorative sculpture on Tuesday, November 11. The sculpture at Picton Railway Station is the final part of the Great Southern Line Anzac Story, which has been three years in the making. One commemorative sculpture is already in place at Moss Vale Railway Station and the second was unveiled in Goulburn with the final commemorative work unveiled in Picton on the 11th of December.
Picton station like others on the line, was the site of farewells to soldiers and welcomes to those returning. The area had its share of large houses and one of these, Waley Home, (Mowbray Park) was provided as a gift for soldiers in 1920 and its surrounding peaceful grounds seen as especially valuable for those suffering from shell shock. During the research phase we were able to identify that Railway Serviceman Roy Howard met his future wife Dot a nurse at the Waley Home. The commemorative Public Artwork was installed at Picton railway station.
Southern Tablelands Arts
Executive Director Susan Conroy said that “the commemorative sculptures
provide the chance to learn some of the previously untold stories about
railway men who enlisted and fought during WWI”.
“It is also an opportunity to reveal and
to honour the experiences of WWI veterans returning from the war and to
recognise the powerful link for many in returning to jobs in the NSW railway
network in this region. The commemorative sculpture also shines a light on the
socio-economic role of the NSW railways in providing employment to WWI
veterans, as well as the impact on their families and communities”. Ms. Conroy said.
“It also provides a way for the descendants of these men to remember and
celebrate their family members.”
During the research phase, Southern Tablelands Arts were able to find
living descendants who had strong memories of these men and who are now
the custodians of precious items of memorabilia and family stories. “War records, railway staff records,
citations, medals and photos are just some of the memorabilia that illustrated
family stories gathered in the research and consultation stages of this
project,” Ms. Conroy said.
Ms. Conroy also noted that “considerable
thought has gone into how to share the wealth of stories and memorabilia to
help build an appreciation of this little-known aspect of NSW railway history
and heritage and use the wealth of material identified and documented.”
A QR code is located with the artwork which enables people who visit any
of the commemorative sculptures to learn more by using their smart
phone/device. This means that the wealth of material collected offers future
opportunities for research and presentation to existing and new audiences.
NSW Trains and Sydney Trains have played a vital role in the development
of the project including being on the Working Party and contributing
financially to the project. The memorial sculptures will be deeded to
them on project completion.
A key source of funding for the project is the Anzac Centenary Cultural
Fund. For the Picton Commemorative artwork, funds were also provided by Wollondilly
Shire Council. “The project could
not have proceeded without these funds,” Ms. Conroy said.
Acclaimed visual artist Tracy Luff has developed designs for each of the
commemorative sculpture sites at Goulburn, Moss Vale and Picton. Ms. Luff
was drawn the stories of struggle in the aftermath of WWI for the railway
workers and their families. She chose symbols to represent
various aspects that were common experiences for the veterans.
Wollondilly Mayor Judith Hannan unveiled the commemorative sculpture at the Picton Railway Station 11am on December the 11th.