A friend brought to my attention a campaign to save Thompson Square, the oldest town square in Australia, which is threatened by a road-widening proposal in Windsor.
As it happened, I was recently passing through the historic village on the far north-west outskirts of Sydney. I’d stopped there to take a few shots – two in a heart-starting cappuccino and a few more with my camera, but hadn’t paid much attention to Thompson Square. My impression of Windsor generally was that it had already suffered the ravages of uncontrolled development. It could have been a lot more attractive than it is now.
Windsor was established in 1791, making it the third oldest European settlement on the continent. Lachlan Macquarie, NSW Governor 1810-1821, ordered the construction in the town of the essential edifices of civilised society – church, school, gaol and pub.
Now some of Australia’s oldest buildings are sandwiched between petrol stations and supermarkets. Although some residents are clearly passionate about preserving what is left, they’re fighting a constant battle against the forces of development.
There’s little to fault in Windsor’s site on the bank of the Hawkesbury River, where a short concrete walking and cycling path has recently been laid.
The bridge the government is proposing to demolish and replace with a wider one is not in itself particularly attractive. My guess is that the battle is less about preserving it as historic engineering and more about diverting traffic away from the bottleneck (and even early in the morning I ran into such a jam). A new crossing and a bypass road leading to it would allow Windsor to become a sleepy backwater village by the river.
Here’s the video made by those arguing against the new bridge: