I’ll give back the BHP plaque: publican says

27/04/2020 Posted by admin

STANDING FIRM: Members of the Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association outside the former BHP administration building on Thursday. A historical plaque went missing and was sold to a Hunter pub last year. Picture: Jonathan CarrollA PLAQUE that went missing from the former BHP steelworks and wound up on a pub wall will be returned to the state government.

The publican of Hinton’s Victoria Hotel, Craig Thorley, said on Thursday he would hand over the century-old plaque to state government property manager Property NSW in return for a replica of the original, a day after media inquiries.

Mr Thorleysaid Property NSW certified that the relic on his pub wallwas the original. The plaque signified the opening of the steelworks in 1915.

He said he first received the artefactfrom a Hunter Valley antique dealer after paying $1000 for it in a legitimate transaction in early last year.

“I always said if they were able to confirm it as the original I’d hand it back,” he said.

But members of the Newcastle Industrial Heritage Association (NIHA) are dismayed the plaque went missing in the first place.

‘Lack of duty of care’: Aubrey Brooks. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

Third-generation BHP worker Aubrey Brooks said it would have been difficult to remove the plaque.

He suggested whoever took it had access to the building.

“You would have had to have known it was in there,” Mr Brooks said.

“It would be difficult to get in –the place is secure andlocked. You can’t just walk in there.

“The plaque was up a stairway [and] there would have had to have been a ladder.

“Then it would havehad to be removed from the wall and handed down to someone. It’s no mean task.”

Property NSW said several people had access to the building last year, including community groups, before the site was fenced off in March for remediation work.

A spokesman said the agency was still investigating how the plaque disappeared.

Keeper of the flame Aub Brooks on why the BHP plaque must be returned @newcastleheraldpic.twitter出售老域名/QqQVkSZZd6

— Brodie Owen (@Brodie_Owen) April 19, 2018

Mr Brooks said it was “sad it came to this” and took aim at Property NSW for a “lack of duty of care”.

He reminded the agency 400 people died at the steelworks. “[The plaque] ismore than a piece of steel,” he said.“It’s what it represents. It’s got blood on it.”

Property NSW said it had since increased security patrols at the former administration building.A spokesman said a private facility manager was also contracted to look after the site.

A meeting of NIHA members at the site on Thursday heard there were concerns for other historical artefacts in the building.

Members wanted those items handed over to either the NIHA or Newcastle Museum, but Property NSW said there were no plans to do that andno confirmed reports of other missing items.

Authoritieslearned the plaque was missingafter a NIHA member discovered it on the wall of the pub late last year.

A plaque celebrating the opening of the BHP steelworks at Newcastle went missing.

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