Editors note: 19-3-2018. This picture of the old Brelsford park gates was sent in by a reader.
Brelsford. This name means little to people in Coffs Harbour and we should ask why.
There is a huge park by this name; a key to the Council’s prosperity vision. But if vision was in play then we see Brelsford was much to the fore in the early days.
Coffs was always the place to stay overnight because it was halfway to Queensland from the big smoke of Sydney. Stay at a motel and you could be off first thing next morning; there was nothing to do at night. So what has changed?
Main highways have bypassed towns and cities; yet some have thrived. Goulburn was revitalised as was Yass. The Highlands welcome people to detour through their quaint neck of the woods. People are drawn to sport, gardens and fine eating; and these little hamlets make the most of it.
But enough of that; what is there to entice the traveller to venture off the main road in Coffs. No signs, no lures, there is nothing and only a few eating venues, all off the highway, after the sun goes down.
Brelsford Park might be an answer. Other country towns have magnificent gardens and these offer peace to the weary traveller and some have things for little ones to do. But what is the history of Brelsford and why would anyone want to stop and look at it? There are no plaques or monuments to say why it is important. Just a grandstand not that old soon to be demolished. All in the park will be brand spanking new with no connection to the past except for one thing. On the far south east stand some fine trees. These are a clue to the past.
In the early days Coramba was the main centre for this region; the reason for people to come here. This was where the work was to be found. Timber was the reason and it lead to the delivery of cut trees to the wharf down at the jetty. (This suggests a path for visitors to follow.)
The area was mapped by a surveyor (attached to the state government), a Mr Brelsford. Then for a short time the town was called after him. Mr Arnold Forsyth settled in the area in 1938, he was served as the President of the Brelsford Park Management Committee for five years. In the early 1950s (?) the Shire Council assumed control of the park and it was to be retained as a sports ground.
So the first name for the town was Brelsford but it changed when it became confused with Beresford in the Hunter Valley. Brelsford was still a town and had two name changes. By 1955 it was Coffs Harbour and was recognised as a city with its own Council. It is not known when or why the memorial gates to the park (pictured) were removed. They were of granite and marble and their current resting place is not readily known.
So, if the grandstand is to be removed (long standing neglect and structural deterioration) why not replace it with something to celebrate the history of the town? Surely some old buildings would have an historical interest. They could be up near the trees and could show the importance of timber to the development of the area. The provision of shelters and picnic facilities would draw visitors to it. Parking in this area would present less of a problem than exists now.
Good signage would be needed because, if you think about it, there is no grassed area along the highway for visitors to stop for a break.
So Council think about it, build on what we have and just don’t throw it all out because it is old. Look at parks in other places to see how they have merged old with new. Historic buildings adjoin the peaceful parks in both Goulburn and Bathurst. Buildings dated back to the 1850s have not been jettisoned because they are old, they are preserved. They are monuments to show the changes in time and the growth of the areas. Where are the monuments in this city? Where is the history lesson for the young to learn?
Surely Brelsford deserves a little better than seems to be proposed.
Editors note: The Brelsford Park Masterplan can be found here http://www.coffsharbour.nsw.gov.au/Building-and-Planning/Place-Strategies/Documents/Brelsford%20Park%20Masterplan.pdf (Copy and paste into URL – hyperlink not working). ‘Cob’ is suggesting some historical low rise buildings could go near the corners of Albany and Curacoa Streets.
Picture of old Brelsford Park gates by the ABC.
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