TRIB­UTE TO THOSE WHO SERVED

North East Living Magazine - - Contents - words Justin Jen­vey photos Justin Jen­vey/ Bright RSL

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.

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