Lawson History Continued

lawson town map

(above) Detail, Town Map of the Village of Lawson, c 1910

Source: Department of Lands AO map 80,058 with annotations up to about 1920 showing the subdivision in the Lawson Village Core Area.

The later Survey Plan of the Village shown above indicates modifications made up to about 1920 including the naming of Douglass Place and Honour Avenue which were both gazetted in January 1918. At this time commercial strip development had also commenced along the highway and the post office and the Shire offices were established there.

Development of the Village Core Area reached a peak in the Inter War period when the Blue Mountains became a major tourist destination and Lawson was identified as one of the most desirable places to visit on the Mountains. Development in the later 20th century has been slow with a concentration on residential buildings.

Summary History of Douglass Square

The subject land was set aside in 1861 by the Surveyor General of NSW as a camping reserve for stock traveling along the road between Bathurst and Penrith. The Square was part of allotment 16 of Portion 1 created in 1841. The northern portion of the reserve (extending across the railway line) was revoked in 1882 when the Town Plan was adopted and the remaining section became a reserve for public recreation in 1898 with the name "Grand Reserve". we Wormald, Morton Haddon and Joseph Hay were appointed trustees.

Hay, a surveyor with the Department of Lands, had owned the land opposite on which the shops at No.s 1 and 3 Honour Avenue had been built. The adjacent land had been taken up by Henry Wilson in 1843 and Joseph Hay in 1884. The name "Grand" was adopted by the adjacent guest house The Allemada' when it was enlarged and changed to a hotel in 1895.

town map lawson

Parish Map of Linden showing land subdivision and ownership around the Village of Lawson (undated).

Lots 1 & 2 are divided by Broad Street which continues at an angle to provide access from the site of the Railway Station to South Lawson Park. The dominance of land ownership at Lawson by members of the Wilson family, the Hay family and Sir Henry Parkes is shown.

Development of the present Lawson Village Core Area around Broad Street, opposite the Railway Station proceeded from 1882 after the land comprising Lots 1 & 2 shown in the Parish Map (above ) was sub-divided and sold.

Early buildings included, the first part of The Blue Mountains Hotel (1882), No 9 Honour Avenue (early 1880s), the Anglican Church (1884), the Alameda Guesthouse (Grand Hotel) (1887), the Congregational Church and the first Staples Stores buildings (1891)

Archival Images of Douglass Square 1887 -1930

Early photographs of Lawson in the last decade of the 19th century and first decades of the 20th century show an impressive array of buildings set around a generous open 'Square' with the smaller triangular garden area of Douglass Place on the northern tip of the eastern side. (see photos below)

Formalisation of Douglass Square

Names for the area also changed rapidly throughout the early development of the Village. First called Grand Reserve in the 1880s, Douglass Square was subsequently called Grand Square. It was then known as Station Square in 1910, Douglass Place in 1918, Railway Square around 1920 and Central Square in 1932 before the name settled in the second half of the 20th century as Douglass Square.

The Geographical Names Board of NSW indicates that the name Douglass Square commemorates John William Douglass - Wall, aged 20 who was killed in action on 20th July 1916 at Fleur Baix, France. He was the son of James Wall a Councilor and President of the Shire. The name and spelling of Douglass was from his mother's maiden name, Avelyn Mary Douglass.

honour avenue 1921

Similarly, Honour Avenue was first named Broad Street. The name changed in 1918 after the Shire Council of Blue Mountains had taken over the control of both the streets and the newly gazetted Douglass Place.

This in turn followed the reservation of the current Square in 1915 as the entry to the proposed memorial avenue, established to commemorate those local servicemen who saw action in the First World War.

The avenue which was designed by John Sulman in conjunction with the Council engineer was completed and dedicated by Lady Edgeworth David in 1918 and the finished War Memorial was unveiled in 1923 by Sir Walter Davidson, Governor of NSW.

war memorial 1923

(above)"Honour Avenue Lawson" 1923

The War Memorial as originally constructed and unveiled in 1923. It replaced the earlier metal framed archway forming the southern boundary of the open 'Square'. A note on the photo indicates that the mounted guns were removed and melted down for the war effort in the Second World War.

The War Memorial was originally surrounded by grass and fenced as part of the formalization of Hounour Avenue but is now surrounded by gardens and flanked by two flagpoles.

war memorial 2004 lawson

(above) Lawson War Memorial, Douglass Square 2004.

Note  backdrop of mature trees forming the memorial avenue.The completion of the First World War Memorial in 1923 further changed the structure and appearance of the square giving it a higher degree of formality. The memorial was designed and constructed under the direction of the war veteran and architect, Major General, Sir Charles Rosenthal who also designed the memorial at Blackheath.

laying foundation stone

(above) Laying foundation stone of War Memorial

The Memorial was built in the form of a Triumphal Arch and constructed of local sandstone with inset engraved trachyte panels. Sir John Sulman, then a part time resident of Lawson, designed and oversaw the layout of the formal garden avenue behind the memorial in conjunction with F.V. Wilkner the Shire Engineer.

The mature avenue of trees now forms the distinctive centrepiece of the Honour Avenue and terminates visually at the War Memorial. The planting and construction of the stone retaining walls in the avenue took place from 1928 and trees have continued to be planted as memorials.

The construction of the war memorial required the relocation of the earlier metal framed, arched gateway to the avenue. This was modified and moved to Bellevue Park where it remains, albeit in simpler form without the flanking fence. This move provides a strong connection between the park, Douglass Square and Honour Avenue.

station square lawson

(above) "Station Square Lawson, Blue Mnts 1910".

In this postcard view, the roads are not kerbed and guttered and the triangular lot is only separated from the Grand Hotel by a narrow pathway. It is surrounded by a post and rail fence and contains semi-mature conifer plantings. Later photographs show the area as a manicured, open and unfenced area without mature trees indicating a significant change in the character of the area.

The Grand Hotel formerly The Alameda Hotel, following its transformation at the turn of the 20th century by the addition of 'Federation' detailing. Note the change of character of the square from its earlier setting.

grand hotel

(above Grand Hotel prior to detailing)

Allmeda guest house

above 'The Allemeda' Hotel- Guest house c1887

The area in front of the hotel is largely unmade road with remnant native trees. Within a decade this area had changed to a more formalized appearance.

congregational church lawson nsw 1887

Above Builders at the Congregagtional Church 1887

View looking towards the square from the eat showing Alemeda Hotel and the timber church under construction. This is the current site of Lawson Uniting Church.

douglass square 1915

(Above Douglass Square c1915)

At this time the 'square' was more strongly defined as an urban space by thepresence of buildings to the east and by fencing to the south. It was known alternatively as 'Grand Square' or "Railway Square' until the triangular reserve was gazetted as 'Douglass Place'Public Reserve in 1918.

broad street lawson 1915

Above: Broad Street Lawson photograph by Dr King c1917

This photograph from the verandah or roof of the Grand Hotel shows the area now known as Douglass Square prior to any formal road construction. Note the rows of new trees protected by tree guards, forming an avenue to either side of the street.

The various photographs of Douglass Square (see above) from different periods of its development show a wide ranging appearance of the reserve and the extended precinct over time. Fences appear and disappear, gardens are constructed, trees mature and are removed, roads are realigned and paved, buildings destroyed by fire are removed, all changing the form, appearance and functioning of the Square.

douglass place lawson 1925

Above:Douglass Place / Railway Square and Lawson shops in the 1920s.

The photo shows the reserve on the left with its formal plantings and the group of buildings in the background that form the western boundary of the 'Square' including Staples Stores and the Blue Mountains Hotel. At this time the highway appears to be unsealed.

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