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Heritage Issues

Probably Yass' most attractive quality is its buildings that date from c1837, making it one of the oldest settled areas in southern New South Wales. From the very beginning, the society has had and maintained an active interest in the built environment of Yass.

Regrettably over the years, not all the community has shared an interest in the preservation of our buildings and items of heritage value. Developments have not always been sympathetic to heritage and many sites have either been demolished or diminished by the march of progress.

Amongst the first heritage issues to be tackled by the society was the removal of headstones from the burial ground surrounding St Clement's Anglican Church and the retention of the verandas and their cast iron lace balconies of Comur Street buildings, which was widely supported by the Sydney Morning Herald.

A view of St Clement's Anglican Churchyard, c.1910 before the removal of memorials.
[YDHS Inc]

From 1965 the society energetically lobbied for the restoration and has maintained an interest in the preservation of Cooma Cottage, the former home of explorer Hamilton Hume. It continues to actively support Cooma Cottage and the work of the National Trust of New South Wales, in various ways, including the loan of items that once belonged to the Hume family.

Explorer Hamilton Hume (left) and his wife Elizabeth, with an unnamed horseman at Cooma Cottage, c.1870. [YDHS Inc]

In 1999 the society was instrumental in obtaining an interim protection order to prevent the possible demolition of a Colonial Georgian house, Fifield, one of the town's oldest houses. Built by Dr Allan Campbell in 1859 the house had been unspoiled by inappropriate renovations and thus was of great importance not only to Yass but the wider community.

In recent years the society has made submissions and lobbied for the reinstatement of the original area of Yass' first cemetery which was consecrated by Bishop Bede Polding in the spring of 1838. Originally the property of John Hanley, the proprietor of the Shamrock Inn, it is the site of some of the earliest burials in the town. A development application has been approved by Council conditional upon the retention of the majority of the site which is to be fenced, replanted with suitable trees and shrubs and interpretative signage installed.

In 2007 the proposal removal of the historic tramline from Dutton Street to facilitate parking adjacent to Mount Carmel School was brought to the attention of the society. The line laid in 1892 runs from Yass Junction to the Yass Town terminus and is believed to be the only line of its type in New South Wales. Despite a submission from the society and others stressing its heritage value as part of the Dutton Street historic precinct a decision was made to go ahead with the removal. Following the circulation of a public petition supported by almost 700 local residents and visitors, the newly elected Council at their meeting on 22 October 2008, unanimously voted to retain the line and ask the Australian Rail Infrastructure Corporation to lower the line.

The only extant headstone in Yass' earliest cemetery is that of Thomas Laidlaw, as seen c1970.
[YDHS Inc]

Members and the executive have served on committees, lobbied council and heritage organisations and been actively involved in compiling the list of buildings of heritage interest for the Local Environmental Plan, currently being drafted. The latter has involved hundreds of hours of research to ensure that the listing is a true reflection of the town's built heritage. The society has for many years worked closely with consultants employed by local council and others on heritage matters, water conservation, traffic studies and other matters.

The work of the Society was recognised on 16 November 2009 when President Gloria Carlos accepted a Heritage Volunteers Award on behalf of the Archives volunteers from the then Minister for Planning Kristina Keneally at ceremony at the Police and Justice Museum in Sydney.

Owners of buildings and properties, especially those of an historic nature, are encouraged to consult the archives for information that may assist them in making informed decisions, before removing or making alterations to buildings.

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All images on this website are the property of the Yass & District Historical Society Inc and must not be used without the express permission of the Society.

This page last updated: 21 June 2016