TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO SERVED
The Memorial Clock Tower in Bright holds significance for both Australia’s war heroes and the town itself.
THE Memorial Clock Tower in Bright stands within a roundabout in the main street, a space known as Mafeking Square which prior to it being built was home to earlier war dedications. When the clock tower was built in 1929 it was said to be one of the first monuments of its kind.
“A lot of towns built obelisks or dedicated halls as memorials for the First World War,” Bright RSL sub-branch president Kevin Black said.
“Bright was the only town during that period to have a clock incorporated in its monument.”
While the clock tower was built more than 10 years after the Great War, the first attempts to commemorate all those who had served and lost their lives began in 1920. Appropriate memorials for a tribute were the subject of much debate, and according to Mr Black there were some curious ideas before a clock tower was finally suggested.
“The first attempt in 1920 was to establish a Memorial Infectious Diseases Hospital, possibly in response to the influenza epidemic that swept the world in 1919-20 which had claimed 12,000 Australian lives,” he said.
“A building was moved from the Wandiligong Road to Gavan Street but it didn’t last long and was described as a fiasco in a news article in the Alpine Observer.”
A second proposal to build a memorial fountain didn’t proceed, but in 1929, a suggestion to erect a memorial clock tower was put forward. Following its design, a tender for the clock tower’s construction was awarded to local builder John Icely, his son Norman, and David Jones in September 1929. The cost was stated to be £700, and the project was to be completed by December 10, 1929. It was eventually unveiled on December 29, 1929 with a ceremony and celebration taking place. Its inauguration gained national media coverage with articles appearing in newspapers as far as Perth and Cairns. Mr Black, who was the secretary of the National Memorials Committee in Canberra for almost two decades said he could understand why there might have been such fanfare.
“Most of the memorials you saw were cenotaphs or around the cities - statues of statesmen or people on horses,” he said.
“The clock tower certainly represented the best of what was thought of as memorials in the 1920s.”
The Bright Memorial Clock Tower commemorates all Australian war involvements and peacekeeping operations and lists the names of 94 fallen men. While the striking structure is what stands out, Mr Black said much more history lies within the clock tower’s location in Mafeking Square.
“Mafeking Square was dedicated before the Federation of Australia after the Boer War,” he said. >>
The Memorial Clock Tower in Bright holds significance not only as a commemorative structure for Australia’s war heroes, but as the heart of the town.
TOWN CENTRE / The tower has been the site of community ceremonies since it was built in 1929.