2020 marks 75 years since the end of the Second World War. To commemorate this important year, the NSW Government is interviewing WWII veterans about their experiences. Read our 75th Anniversary Stories.
Arthur Park located in the suburb of Botany is land owned by the City of Botany Bay. It is community classified land zoned RE1 Public Recreation under the Botany Bay City Council’s Local Environment Plan 2013. The park is held in three titles and is 0.3118 hectares or 3118 square metres in area. Street boundaries are Botany Road to the north, Chelmsford Avenue to the west, and Edgehill Avenue to the east.
The park has been categorised as a ‘Formal Garden’ by Council. Management of the site is now governed by a Plan of Management prepared in accordance with the Local government Act 1993 and adopted by Council in June 1999.
Developed as a living memorial after the Second World War, Arthur Park was developed in 1946 to acknowledge the Botany Servicemen who gave their lives in the war. Lombardy Poplars, Populus nigra italica, were planted and a name plaque erected for each serviceman who had died. However, following an upgrading of the park in 1985 and as several trees were in poor health in order to preserve the brass plaques they were collected and set in a concrete block which was placed in a central position for easy viewing. In 2003 they were reattached to a new sandstone plinth .
Due to the condition of the 10 remaining memorial trees and the current poor state of the park, Botany Bay City Council in March 2013 allocated funds to undertake landscape redevelopment works in accordance with concept plans prepared for this purpose. The objective was for Council to reinstate Arthur Park as a formal garden as was its original design.
When undertaking subsequent research on Arthur Park, it was revealed the memorial had only been recorded by Council as a local significant site and that no formal registration or listing on the NSW War Memorials Register had occurred.
Council’s records indicate that although 28 or more poplar trees were originally planted, only 25 brass plaques were collected in 1985. Of those plaques, 23 record the planting of a tree on 25 May 1946. One of those plaques may have the name spelt incorrectly.
Another plaque was for Alderman George Valentine Arthur for whom the park is named. This plaque records he was an Alderman of the Municipality of Botany from 1938 to 1952 and Mayor in 1942 and that he served in the AIF 1914-1918.
There is another plaque recording the name of Joseph Gage formerly of Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders on which it records the planting of a tree on 6 June 1968.
However, Council's records indicate another plaque may have been installed as the name Pte A Thompson was listed with designs submitted for a new proposed sandstone plinth in July 2003.
In regard to the final recording of names and the format of recognition of those serviceman who died, Council has resolved that it engage in a consultation process with the families of those listed, together with the Botany R.S.L. and the Botany Historical Trust. Council has also resolved that formal registration of Arthur Park, the community war memorial occur, with updated information on works provided for the Register as and when it becomes available.
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