Liz Gibbs, convener of the Eltham Village Heritage Committee, pictured outside the historic Eltham railway cottage, which residents saved from being bulldozed in 2004.
Liz Gibbs, convener of the Eltham Village Heritage Committee, pictured outside the historic Eltham railway cottage, which residents saved from being bulldozed in 2004. Jacklyn Wagner

People power protects Eltham

WHEN a bulldozer pulled up outside of Eltham’s historic railway cottage late one night in 2004, the countrytelegraph sprang into action.

By next morning, more than 60 locals turned up to put their bodies in front of the dozer to stop it demolishing the building.

It was saved and their actions marked the start of a campaign to save Eltham’s historic sites which Liz Gibbs, convenor of the heritage committee, describes as central to the ‘village that time forgot’.

That campaign is about to come to fruition, with the Lismore City Council naming the village as a heritage conservation area in its new LEP, which will form the basis of all planning decisions for the next 10 years.

“It’s absolutely fabulous news,” a delighted Ms Gibbs said yesterday.

The village is one of seven additional community-nominated heritage sites included in the new draft LEP which, after public consultation, should be adopted by April.

Sites losing their heritage listing are the former Bexhill brickworks and the Dryston Wall at Rosebank which, despite searches, no one can locate.

Eltham was a commercial hub when it was built around the turn of the 19th Century and retains many of the buildings of that time, such as the railway cottage, the Masonic Hall, butcher shop and cattle yard railings.

Ms Gibbs said it had been a local grassroots campaign to save the village’s history.

“You need to have that grassroots concern and engagement to grow well into the future,” she said.

“That’s where the suggestion box comes from – it’s part of that engagement to save the community.”

Ms Gibbs said she was not against progress.

“There are many places that have deeply regretted their desire to have the latest in this consumerist world because they haven’t got their memories, and memories are important,” she said. “They inform decision-making and value what you’ve got.”



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