What is the Value of History?

This year the Balmain Association has focussed on three topics for its exhibition at the Watch House to demonstrate the value of history.

. Edmund Blacket, the Colonial Architect who designed the Watch House in 1854

. The Watch House, a preserved heritage police station and lock up saved from demolition after being vested in the National Trust and leased to the Balmain Association

. Ira Gray, a policeman who with his family used the Watch House as his residence from 1930-1947

These three areas have been powerful in the formation of the Balmain identity. In Balmain’s early beginnings its first community c 1840 needed a lockup, the Watch House is a symbol of Balmain in that it echoes the progress of the suburb, namely its beginnings, heyday, decline and regeneration. Sergeant Gray and his family gives us a picture of everyday life for a large family {12 children (5 home births) nearly 90 years ago.

We are hoping that this exhibition will demonstrate the value of history – not only as ”a snapshot of our past” but it will also “make us ask questions”, “think about current problems“ and realise that the restoration/salvation of our heritage buildings is tremendously important and how the above topics have contributed to forming our identity.

Helen Carter

Photo: Ira Gray 1910 Balmain Association collection.