War memorials are structures that are usually created to celebrate and honor the efforts of men who have lived and died at war. Throughout history, to keep the memory of brave soldiers and to remember their efforts. The pleasantly surprising fact about the Balmain War Memorial is one of optimism and celebration of a different kind. For a small working-class suburb in Sydney, the war memorial was constructed even before the war was in Gallipoli was finished. Located in Loyalty Square, the Balmain War Memorial was opened on Sunday the 23rd of April 1916. Surprising in fact, because the war memorial was unveiled even before the anniversary of the Gallipoli war.
The reason for erecting the structure was part of the Dardanelles campaign. As the years passed, several names were added to the list, and the different battles they took part in was recorded. Even the more recent attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq have been added to the list of battles in the war memorial – A true memorial with essence indeed. At first, the place of the war memorial was called Unity Square. However, after the monument was erected the name was changed to Loyalty Square; perfectly fitting the purpose of the unique monument. The location where the memorial was constructed was very precarious. It was erected at the intersection of two roads and has always been a traffic nightmare. Much of the stonework on the exterior of the building has been damaged which called for restoration worked in 1973. Some of the officials even suggested that the monument be relocated to a different place. The locals and the council did not allow for the relocation and instead extended the pavement around the memorial. The road was narrowed down, and the area was made into a small square that was dedicated specifically for the memorial.
A student who was working on the project of restoration in 2000, found the lost documents of the original design and used it to help with the recovery of the building. While many debates why a monument such as this could not just be moved, many believed that its rightful place should be retained. For a good reason, the monument is one of the only ones in the world with its unique, optimistic commemoration of war heroes. Therefore, when the restoration was done, little to no change was made to the original structure, while the surrounding areas were amped to suit the monument. The restoration works of the unique monument consisted of the following:
- The building is now a sandstone plinth with an iron frame
- The light which was part of the original design of the monument was moved to the top of the building
- Marble tablets were used for plaques of all the war campaigns that came after the Gallipoli war
- Four local businesspeople came forward to pay for the tablets when funds were low
Moving, restoring, and changing a monument is an easier task. However, making sure that the efforts and purpose of a monument to be maintained in a tough one. The Balmain War Memorial is one such monument that gives Australians hope that when communities come together, history and love for country can never be lost.