‘Save Munmorah Power Station mural’

HISTORY: Former power industry workers Rod Caldwell and Bob Porter in front of the ‘Munmorah Mural’, which they want to remove from the decommissioned power station and preserve. Picture: SuppliedA group of former power industryworkers are racingto save a historic mural in the Munmorah facility before it is demolished.

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The decommissioned power station is being dismantled in a massive demolition project that is due to be completed inthe second half of 2018. On Sunday, the power station’stwin chimney stacks, which are 155 metres high and are considereda landmark in southern Lake Macquarie, are scheduled to be toppled with a controlled explosion.

Yet a group called the Munmorah Reunion Committeeargue that a large mural in the administration building should be removed and preservedasa memorial.

Committee member Bob Porter, who worked at the power station for almost a quarter of a century, said the ‘Munmorah Mural’ was 9.1 metres long and 2.4 metres high andwas a stylised depiction of the power generation process, from the mining of the coal to the community using the electricity.

“For the people who worked at Munmorahor visited, it was the first thing they saw when they walked into the foyer,” Mr Porter said. “There’s a lot of history, a lot of nostalgia tied up with it.”

Constructed from more than800 hand-made ceramic tiles, the ‘Munmorah Mural’ wascreated by artist and architect Gino Volpato in 1966, as the power station was being built.

POWERFUL ART: Architect and artist Gino Volpato in front of the ‘Munmorah Mural’, which he created in 1966 for the power station’s foyer. Picture: Volpatohatz苏州美甲学校

Mr Porter and fellow former Electricity Commission employeeRod Caldwellsaid while there was no heritage listing forthe mural, there should be, as it held artistic, historicaland social significance.

“It is unique,” said Mr Caldwell, who is also a member of a group called Engineering Heritage Australia.

Mr Caldwell and Mr Porter said they had discussed the mural’s preservation with Steve Saladine, the managing director of Generator Property Management, the NSW Government business that owned Munmorah Power Station. They said Mr Saladine had promisedto preserve the mural until the end of the demolition process and would have it puton to a truck on the site.

Steve Saladine said to the Herald that he told the men that if they had someone who would take the mural for display and they were prepared to cover the cost of relocation and provided the truck, he would get the demolition contractor to remove it.

However, Mr Saladine said he had engaged experts to look at the mural and they had told him it was “almost impossible to remove it without damaging it”. The ceramic tiles, he was advised, had “deteriorated over time”.

Withthe power station’s demolition continuing, Mr Saladine said he was still looking at what to do about the mural and what was the best option. “At this point, I’ve made no judgement,” he said.

A potential home for the mural, RodCaldwell said, was the former Wangi Power Station. The state heritage-listed main building is empty, and the long-decommissioned power stationis in private hands.Mr Caldwell has written to Lloyd McDonald, a member of the family who owns the Wangi site, proposing to have the mural relocated there.

“The mural would be a spectacular feature in an entrance foyer of an accommodation block or shopping arcade,” Mr Caldwell wrote. “Such a display could be extended to include an interpretation centre for the coal fired power industry.”

GENERATOR: Munmorah Power Station, which operated from 1967 to 2012, with its distinctive chimney stacks that are due to be demolished on Sunday.

Lloyd McDonald told the Herald he supported the idea. “I reckon it would be fantastic to have a museum in there,” he said. “How good would it be to have some sort of history of power stations there? It seems logical.”

However, Mr McDonald said the building’s future use had not been determined yet. Further, with the building having been regularly vandalised and even set on fire recently, hesaid the mural could not be installedat the Wangi site in the short term.

“If you put it in there now, it would last a week,” he said. “As much as I’d love to see it there, we can’t have it yet. It would need to be stored somewhere.”

Mr Porter and Mr Caldwell said their committee waslooking at options for safely removing and storing the mural, and how to pay for that. They believed the State Government should help fund the mural’s future, considering what the artworkrepresented.

“We hope the government is sympathetic to its preservation,” Mr Porter said.

Mr Caldwell added: “It is the art of the engineer fuelling the state in such a successful way.”