Towering tragedy on railway track
GLENREAGH community members are in shock after a 103-year-old piece of history was destroyed.
The demolition of the historic water tower at Glenreagh Railway Precinct has left the local community devastated at the apparent disregard for heritage after footage emerged of the tower being pulled down by the Australian Rail Track Corporation.
Glenreagh Rail and Station Preservation Society had been campaigning to gain control of the precinct to save the multiple heritage structures on the site and had been told by ARTC that the water tower was not structurally sound and would have to be taken down.
GRASPS committee member Megan Casey said the process had been distressing for the community, especially those who had been working so hard to have the precinct preserved.
"We asked ARTC if they could sympathetically dismantle it and leave it 15m from the track so we could use it at a later stage and they said they would do their best." she said.
"And then we received the video of the tower going down and there is no way it is salvageable."
The community had clearly been affected by the developments and comments on social media were scathing of the footage, though Ms Casey noted that it had a galvanising effect on GRASPS and more people had come forward looking to help.
The demolition came just 10 days before Clarence Valley Council was due to discuss the ways council might be able to assist GRASPS gain control of the site to start preservation.
ARTC general manager of corporate affairs, Bas Bolyn said the contractor they employed did investigate other options to dismantle the structure, including by crane, but the state of deterioration was "deemed unsafe and not possible to take place."
"To enable lifting by crane, the towers' supports would have required cutting through the steel completely, and this would have heightened the risk of collapse and unnecessarily placed worker safety at risk," he said.
"Ultimately the safety of workers, the community and passing rail operations had to be the priority in this instance."
GRASPS has been in talks to achieve its vision of developing the site for some time and on its Facebook page said obtaining a lease was now a "matter of urgency in order to protect the remaining heritage assets within the Glenreagh yard".
"When asked by ARTC to provide a formal business plan, we provided one. We were made to jump through many hoops," the statement read.
"As part of our offer to lease we also investigated making safe the water tower through the use of qualified welders and concreters with oversight from structural engineers.
"Had there not been significant delay to making a decision on the lease, the water tower would still be standing as a historical testament to the Glenreagh community."
"We are now deeply concerned the station and all other assets will go the same way."