Dear Scott Levi,
Thanks for raising again and for being aware of the importance of Creightons to the CBD and to Gosford’s early history and that of the states funeral industry history:
Re Jackie’s comments on your program today, I would appreciate your passing the following on to her as she mentions the ‘facade of Creightons‘, obviously being unaware of the true situation and the building’s extensive significance.
Creightons is NOT a facade! It is a beautiful, intact purpose built funeral parlour , built by a family with important role in Gosford’s early history and a very significant firm in the history of the development of the funeral industry – not only in the Gosford and Wyong area but also in country NSW. The community fail to recognise the singular importance of the Creightons family on leading edge practice as the funeral industry .
Mr CREIGHTON Snr was in 1843 appointed as Gosford’s first Pound- master – residing opposite the Post and Telegraph Office , in the Police Paddocks, later the Gosford PS site- a position he retained until 1857.
As well, with his sons the family were very significant early landowners across the CBD; Refer to Heather Sushame’s biography in Vol 1 of “The Dream Begins”, a history of all those early settlers recorded in the 1840 Census of Gosford published by the CC Family History Society.
It is important that the local community recognise the significance of this site, advocated for by Emeritus Professor Richard Waterhouse, (first to occupant of the Bicentennial chair of Australian History at University of Sydney.).
As well as the significance of the building itself, the history behind it is of high significance: Robert CREIGHTON senior a wheelwright from County Down by trade and a skillful carpenter in the early days of the history of Gosford, and helped build the heritage listed School of Arts (opened by Sir Henry Parkes) as well as diversifying into supplying coffins to families of the district for burying their own dead , as they did in the early days.
Robert Creighton was early to recognise , as the funeral industry came into being , the need for an undertaking service, and he developed a business from the easiest years of the industry, when hearses were coaches led by a horse. As government came into play to regulate the industry he and his sons were leading exponents of best practice statewide . The business he established from earliest times was continued by his sons and grandsons and continues as Palmdale today.
He did an initial design for his funeral parlour and local architect Frank van Hemelryck (his office being in the School of Arts building across the road) was commissioned for the project.
Council’s contracted its own heritage architect to give an opinion on the significance of the building and that report emphasised it is indeed a very important and intact building, thereby supporting the views of both the National Trust and the Royal Australian Hist Soc.
Council asked the two heritage architects (including the one contracted by the developer , who was Paul Rapport) to confer. Rappaport in his assessment first stated it was an important building then inexplicably and contrary to heritage conservation principles and policy put the erroneous view that only the facades were significant, and stated it could be pulled down and 2 facades rebuilt from new brick!
Rappoport admitted in his report on criteria put forward by the State Heritage Office that there was no reason to demolish the building, but put the view that the developer was keen to help Council fulfil it’s desire to increase low cost residential accommodation in CBD! (It will not be a low cost development!)
There are plenty of other sites where this could be happening. It is timely to ask Gosford Council what is happening to Creightons, as the wider Community is interested to know. The proponent of the building bought the site on the condition that the development go through . The DA proposal is not in itself a building of any architectural merit and quite out of scale with the heritage site and precinct , which must be taken into account, as well as obstructive of views. Three Council Heritage Reviews and one by CCRDC have cautioned on the need to protect this precinct in particular. There are also obvious traffic and parking problems off the steep roundabout on the corner of Georgiana and Mann St, not taken into account in the CCRDC Cardno traffic study.
One might also reference the wonderful adaptive reuse of the hearse & garage section of the development, by the excellent ReviveR Bar which will be destroyed by the proposed development. It is itself an asset the City can’t afford to lose. Creightons garage was restored at he expense of the tenant Reviver, and has draw praise from international experts in heritage renovation who have visited it. As well it offers a popular first class amenity to Gosford CBD
The lower floor of the Creightons is now also rented by ReviveR who have plans to expand their business there if allowed, so there is no argument about inability to let commercially, and the interiors built by the family of carpenters are of exception quality and completely intact and sound.
It is important too to recognise that heritage values reside not only in building quality but also in the history of place that the site represents. By any criteria Creightons is a very significant building, to our community and not one we can afford to sacrifice , in an historic precinct in South Man Street which even today retains a complex of the significant buildings of our early social history, including sandstone buildings by three important colonial architects: Edmund Blacket , Mortimer Lewis and James Barnet ( google on Wikipedia for their biographies and a list of their works) .
We need to value the significance of South Mann St to tell the stories of our earliest social history. Perhaps your program could feature a weekly segment on the significant buildings of the area? I have researched each one.
The heritage of Gosford as a community is alive in South Mann Street even today , and should be recognised, celebrated and promoted for the heritage tourism asset that it is, not destroyed for development that can go elsewhere.
Regards, Kay Williams