Ongoing works of ornamental pond

What was once a waterhole for the livestock of local farmers in the late 1800s is now an ornamental pond under restoration by Hawkesbury City Council. The works are being funded by a Heritage Capital Works grant of $50,000 from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage as well as Council funding.

The current work on the ornamental pond at McQuade Park*, located on the corner of Hawkesbury Valley Way and George Street, Windsor, includes repairing the pond wall to its original shape.

The pond’s shape and central island was designed by Peter Spooner in 1970 to commemorate the bicentenary celebrations of Captain Cook's voyage to Australia in 1770. This transformation of the swampy pond area to a hard edged freeform pond is indicative of the late response to modernism in park and garden design in Australia. It was this new design that saved the pond, the much loved nineteenth-century feature of the Park, from all attempts over the years to fill it in or to securely enclose it.

The project will also incorporate indigenous wetland plantings to improve the pond’s water quality, the Mayor of Hawkesbury, Councillor Barry Calvert explained.

“This work will enhance the south western corner of the park with a passive recreational focus by planting additional shade trees, with the tree placements also creating visual connections to the pond,” the Mayor said.

“Council’s contractors are now working on the island wall, with the sandstone wall section set to commence this week, Councillor Calvert said.

“As part of the current pond works, the whole outer block wall of the pond has been rebuilt. The wall is now being core filled for structural integrity.

“A second bridge is also being installed and the pathway connection will soon be excavated and then concreted towards the end of the project,” Councillor Calvert added.

The ornamental pond, with its water lilies and a small island in the centre with a pedestrian bridge, has remained a popular feature of the park. Since its creation, the pond has often been the backdrop for wedding and school formal photography while other community members frequently use the wider park area for picnics, fitness and recreation.

Pond Works in WindsorAbout the Park

As a green asset, the park offers a great deal of potential for the community as a freely accessible open space. The park itself is of State Heritage Significance because it is an outstanding and rare feature of Governor Macquarie's concept of a planned country town in 1810. It is a rare example of the town planning of Governor Macquarie, as a surviving central urban reserve.

Since its creation in 1811, the culturally significant park has been used for sport, amenity and leisure, including cricket, football, bicycle races, tennis and even a parade ground for Windsor Volunteers and Richmond RAAF. Later on, a bowling club was formed from part of the park and, in 1938, a building for the Country Women’s Association was placed on land that was originally part of the park.

The location of the park next to the church and cemetery reserve in 1811 still gives St Matthew's Anglican church, one of Australia's iconic religious buildings, a dignified and spacious setting, complementing the church's view over the farming flats to the north-west.

* Background to the name of McQuade/Windsor Park

Governor Macquarie called the reserve The Great Square in 1811. However, before Windsor Municipal Council was given formal ownership of the land, it decided to name the reserve McQuade Park. John McQuade was mayor of the municipality in 1872. He was an ambitious local magistrate, but his father had been a transportee, who as an emancipist had established an inn in Windsor close to the Square, on the corner of Tebbutt and George Streets. John himself had built a fine house, Auburn Villa, at Moses Street just across from the reserve. His brother, William McQuade senior, lived close by in the old William Cox house of Fairfield. On 6 June 1872, the Councillors voted to name the reserve after John McQuade and transmitted their decision to the Department of Lands, which still controlled the reserve. At the same time, the Council fenced the reserve for the first time in 1872, with a few seats for the public soon donated by individuals such as the mayor (Council Minute Book, 1872-1875, 45-46). The Council also established a Park Committee.
On 16 April 1873, the Council rescinded the motion of the previous June meeting and renamed the area Windsor Park. But the Department of Lands refused to accept this change and wrote to the Council saying that the name would remain McQuade Park. In August the Council debated the issue again and, by the casting vote of the new mayor (no friend of John McQuade), decided to abide by the name Windsor Park.

In 1874 the reserve was granted formally to the Council, while John McQuade was again mayor. On his casting vote, the rescission motion of August 1873 was itself rescinded. The Council restored the name McQuade Park and erected a signpost with the new name painted in gold letters. This was promptly vandalised and on 6 March 1878, when William Walker, the local solicitor and politician, was mayor, the Council voted to restore the name Windsor Park, so technically the name of the reserve is Windsor Park.

Since the land was now owned in freehold by the Council, the Department of Lands did not enter into the controversy (Council Minute Books, 1872-1875, 53, 98,108-109, 203; 1875-1879, 277; Bowd, Macquarie Country, 178).

* Information from 1.The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and 2.The McQuade (Windsor) Park Conservation Management Plan

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