SWM

Yesterday Dodgy Perth delved into the less-than-grown-up way our politicians planned the State War Memorial. Now the story continues.

Location, location, location. There’s no denying that the Memorial has all three. What it lacks is scale, dignity and style. Transplant it from its sublime location to a local park and it would look like your council put it up on the cheap.

How cheap?

Victoria’s Shrine of Remembrance? A whopping £80,000. South Australia went economy class for just £25,000.

And WA?

We shelled out a whole £3,000. And look what we ended up with.

The brave men who fought, and often died, for their young nation ended up with a Red Dot bargain-basement memorial.

As mentioned yesterday, the Government refused to fund the project, and the various local authorities told him they weren’t going to pay for a memorial which was only going to serve the City of Perth. They’d have their own memorials, thank you very much.

So the City of Perth must have paid for it.

Er… no. Not one penny was forthcoming from them. They loved the idea. Just not the idea of spending anything towards it.

So the public was asked to pay for the Memorial. The target was £30,000.

And the public responded. With fifteen pounds. Yes, you read that correctly. When the appeal closed, they had raised a whole £15.

In 1925, they tried again. This time the target was £35,000. By the time the appeal closed (still nothing from Government or councils), less than a tenth had been raised.

But still, if that was all they had, that would have to do.

The ‘honorary architect’ (read: offered to do it for free) was Sir Talbot Hobbs. Even though vastly overrated as an architect, he had served with distinction during the Great War.

But for no fee, he wasn’t going to put any effort in. Hobbs had knocked up a few monuments in France and Belgium, so he simply recycled one of these, with no thought for context at all.

Even with a free architect, and a greatly scaled-down project, they still managed to run over budget. So when the monument was erected, it didn’t get a setting or lighting.

They had to scrape together another £300 to put in some steps in so it didn’t look completely ridiculous.

Just to remind you: Melbourne spent £80,000 on their memorial.

A contemporary satirist imagined Sir Christopher Wren being summoned from the dead to comment on King’s Park’s latest addition:

Well, it will be a memorial all right, but it isn’t a design—there is no design in it. A memorial of brave men and valiant sons certainly. But people a hundred years hence will wonder what it symbolises, what it commemorates, why it was perpetrated.

As people of a hundred years hence, Dodgy Perth couldn’t agree more.

This story is adapted from one published last year. If you liked it then, you’ll have loved it again.