Saturday, February 1, 2020

Here Kitty, Kitty

Back in 2010, when I published my book Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter, a shiny new idea for another book popped into my head. That was to write about Paul's first wife Jane Sharp's experiences on the store ship Kitty.

Sailing Ship Kitty, 235 tons, in the Mersey off Liverpool, 1808,
Oil Painting by Robert Salmon
It had arrived in Sydney from London on 18 November 1792, carrying not only essential stores and the badly-needed supply of Spanish dollars for a coin-starved colony but also twenty-seven convict women (about half being Irish) and two convict men. Three women had died en route and three more died within a year of reaching Sydney. It’s another ‘floating brothel’ story, as eight children were fathered by men aboard this vessel during the voyage from England to Sydney. 

In 2010 I began collecting material. I researched the passengers, captain and crew on that ship. The journey. The fate of the women in Australia. I emailed a number of other people whose contact details I could find online. Seven in fact. 
  • Five were very helpful with their responses.  
  • One said ‘Little is known about XXX and what there is was researched by YYY and which is only available to proven descendants’. 
  • Another said ‘Sorry I don’t share family information regarding our research for other researchers to put into books etc. Especially since the cost of certificates and the such are prohibitive. We are (the family) doing our own book’. 
Hmmm. I'm glad all those lovely people who helped me with my Bushell book did not have that attitude. 

From my notes I structured a book draft, 111 pages long. But the book about the Kitty did not have a high priority. Other books were ahead in my personal queue and three of those stories have since been published. Meanwhile, someone else has published a book covering the voyage of the Kitty. Unhappy Exiles: Convicts of the Pitt & Kitty 1792, by Marion Starr. I hasten to say she was not one of the people mentioned above. 

Just as the male convicts during their long months at sea aboard transport vessels sometimes ‘bonded’ or made ‘enemies’, so did the women. I'd already worked out many new angles on three or four of the Kitty women through the links between two couples, Paul Bushell and his wife Jane Sharp and Robert Forrester and his wife Isabella (Bella) Ramsay (who was not a Kitty passenger). Among the low number of women living at the Hawkesbury before 1800, Jane and Bella were part of a female friendship group among the Kitty transportees. 

The Forresters moved to the Hawkesbury in 1794 and Robert’s former colleague on the night watch, Paul Bushell, moved there around 1798. Paul had recently married Jane Sharp, who was much the same age as Bella. Despite her life sentence, Jane was obviously a model prisoner and she was recommended by Captain Collins for a conditional pardon before he departed the colony in September 1796. Already at the Hawkesbury from around 1795 was another Kitty shipmate of Jane’s, Elizabeth Chambers, the wife of the Forrester’s neighbour Private Henry Lamb. This set the scene for all three pioneering English women, Jane, Elizabeth and Bella, to help each other at the frontier of settlement. Childless Jane later raised Bella’s youngest child.

Soon Irish convict Sarah Dailey, who also bore a daughter by a man on the Kitty, was living on Wilberforce Reach with William Douglas. Another shipmate, Elizabeth Clough, lived at Richmond with James Nugent.

By 1803 another member of the Kitty cohort of women, and a particular friend of Jane Sharp, was living close to the Forresters. This was Charlotte Stroud, caring for her daughter fathered by the Kitty’s captain. She’d created a new family with Sergeant George Loder, the assistant store keeper at Windsor. Robert already knew Loder well, as they’d been on Norfolk Island together. The ship returning them both to Sydney in March 1793 was the Kitty

My draft of a book about the Kitty has been scrapped. But references to the Kitty will make frequent appearances in my forthcoming book Sentenced to Debt: Robert Forrester, First Fleeter

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Grave Project - Bulletin No 16, Restoration Works in 2015 and Opening Day

Since the last post to this page, time has rushed on. Those interested in the Paul Bushell and David Brown Heritage Grave Restoration Project need to know how this story ends. It will be told largely via the pictures supplied during 2015 by Sach Killam, Grant Skinner, Terry Barraclough, Louise Wilson and by earlier pictures provided by Connie Bushell and Ken Bushell's family.

Progress of Works during 2015

During 2015 the Monumental-Heritage team of the Rookwood General Cemeteries Reserve Trust,  headed by its specialist Sach Killam, spent a busy year in their workshop and at Wilberforce Cemetery.

The new blocks needed to rebuild the new base and the interior support for the 'altar monument'  or 'box tomb' were delivered to the workshop in March.
New stone blocks
So were the four new upright external corner stones, needed to support the side walls and the top slab of the altar monument.
New external corner stones
A new concrete slab was poured in April, sealing off the vault underneath which had gradually filled with earth over the last two centuries and had been bricked-in by well-meaning family members in the 1990s. This approach left the remains undisturbed, as agreed with NSW's heritage authorities.
Concrete slab poured
The slab was covered with black plastic while it cured and other large stone pieces were covered with blue plastic to protect them during reconstruction works on the site.
Plastic protects worksite
The broken slabs of stonework belonging to the side walls of the monument were rejoined with special skewer-like fixtures. The picture shows the opposing holes drilled with computer-aided precision into the piece lying horizontally, waiting to be placed on top of the stonework standing vertically.
Joining broken stonework
By July the sides of the altar monument had been rebuilt using these site-specific remnants of stonework plus some heritage stone rescued by Council workers from various unrelated sites and kept at the Council's nearby Works Depot.
Side panels reconstructed
Note, in the next picture, that the gap visible in the previous picture has now been filled, thanks to the special reconstructive techniques used to replace a number of missing pieces of stonework.
The gaps are filled
The work-in-progress was kept under wraps with hessian covers.
Protective hessian wrapping
A brief visit by Committee members during school holidays in July 2015 unexpectedly added a few more pairs of gentle hands wielding scrubbing brushes, working to remove decades of moss, dirt and grime.
Gentle cleaning
The restored and cleaned top slab was reinstated by August, with the mortaring and shaping of the top inset (dutchman) repair. The mortar then needed to set for another three weeks or so.
Top slab back in position
The final detailing and cleanup was scheduled just in time for the opening ceremony in November.
Bushell/Brown family vault on left, Ann Brown grave on right

Opening Day

The grand 'unveiling' was held on 22 November 2015. A large crowd of supporters gathered at Wilberforce Cemetery on that day. Many had come a long distance to attend - at least nine people travelled from Victoria and two from Queensland, while others came from Canberra and the central and north coast of NSW.
The crowd gathers at the Wilberforce Cemetery
Louise Wilson opened the proceedings with the traditional 'welcome to country' speech acknowledging the traditional custodians of this land and paying respects to local elders, past and present. Her words had particular significance on this occasion, with everyone present reminded that their own ancestors and direct forebears, some of Australia’s earliest European settlers, were among those who took over the Aboriginal lands in this district.

Historic records contain numerous examples of the interactions between those forebears, their friends and neighbours and the local Aborigines who were losing their traditional country. It’s a sensitive topic for all concerned. The de facto frontier war in this district had ended by the time that the first Bushell or Brown burial (12-yr-old Ann Brown) took place in this cemetery, in 1819.
Welcome and background talk by Louise Wilson
Today, the heritage-listed Wilberforce Cemetery is a wonderful historic place, where seven First Fleeters, fifteen Second Fleeters and twelve Third Fleeters are buried. Another reason for its heritage listing is the presence of so many altar monuments (box tombs), giving extra impetus to the cause of repairing the  collapsed Bushell/Brown site.

The Paul Bushell and David Brown Heritage Grave is the burial site for an extended family group.
  • David Brown (came in 1792, in what was once referred to as the Fourth Fleet) and his Third Fleeter wife Eleanor Fleming (child of a NSW Corps soldier)
  • Their eldest daughter Isabella, born beside the Hawkesbury in 1801, and her Second Fleeter husband Paul Bushell
  • Their young daughter Ann Brown (buried in the lower grave)
  • Their son David Brown and his wife Mary nee McGinnis
  • Their young granddaughter Selina Brown (Daughter of Henry)
  • Paul and Isabella’s daughter-in-law Corah Bushell nee Beecroft
  • Isabella’s young grandson David Charles Brown
The Committee overseeing the grave reconstruction project had initially wondered why two monuments existed. Once the restoration specialists pointed out that there is nothing beneath the ground level of the lower grave, whereas the upper grave had an underground vault, a possible explanation emerged.  When young Ann died in 1819 she was given a standard burial, but after the prosperous Paul Bushell joined the Brown family in 1822, there was sufficient money and/or a different attitude and a family vault began. It's useful at this point in the story to remind everyone that all of Paul Bushell's descendants are also Browns ... but only some of David Brown's descendants are also Bushells.

The following picture shows the double gravesite on 22 November 2017, viewed from uphill, with the family group of Brown/Bushell descendants gathered below. Ann Brown's top slab was repaired and cleaned but her box tomb was not rebuilt due to lack of sufficient remnant pieces and the absence of pictorial evidence for its original structure.
Bushell and Brown descendants admire the restoration

The second speaker at the unveiling ceremony on 22 November 2017,  Sach Killam, spoke for a few minutes about the technicalities of the restoration process. These fascinating aspects have already been outlined using the series of pictures in the earlier part of this article. In the picture below, Sach is pointing towards one damaged corner of the top slab which was left in its original state.
Sack Killam explains the project
The final speaker on 22 November 2017 was Deputy Mayor Dr Warwick Mackay who spoke with gratitude about the project from the Hawkesbury City Council’s perspective.
Dr Mackay speaks to the group
Several days later the local paper, the Hawkesbury Gazette, wrote up the event in an article headed 'Significant graves at Wilberforce Cemetery restored to former glory'.

 Remember the groundwork laid for this day

In telling the story of this restoration project, it's important to emphasise that the foundations for its successful outcome go back a long way and required a great deal of enthusiasm and co-operation from a wide-ranging group of people.

To recap on earlier posts in this series, the story began in the 1950s when some videos were taken of a Bushell family visit to the cemetery. From those much degraded videos, kindly supplied by Connie Bushell, a photographic studio in Melbourne prepared some grainy still images during 2013. These images were key to being able to restore this site, because they showed what the original grave looked like.
Still photo from 1950s video
Around 1990 some other members of the Brown and Bushell families decided to rescue the now collapsed grave from total destruction. It’s likely that the vault had already filled with soil washed down the hill, and it was sealed up and bricked in at that time.  All the surviving pieces of both graves were laid out for sorting and photos were taken.
Collapsed gravesite in 1990s
The pieces were then stacked, to save the stonework from further destruction and pilfering.
The gravesite in 2012
The goal even in the 1990s was to restore the grave. Barry Brown of Newcastle rallied the Brown family to the cause but the internet didn't exist then and he had to rely on snail mail. The various organisational issues proved insurmountable.

When Louise Wilson's book ‘Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter’ was published in 2010 a new group of people became interested in the idea that Paul's descendants should honour his memory, as he was quite a remarkable man, with an impeccable record as an exemplary citizen in his enforced new home. 

While Bushell descendants were keen on the grave restoration idea, the earlier 1990s photos couldn’t be located, until Tony Bushell at Sussex Inlet found them among the paperwork of his brother Ken, who’d died some years earlier. Ken’s widow Gwen will be pleased to hear that those photos of all the components of the grave (an example is shown earlier) provided the other missing link needed for restoration.

The work of Jill Vincent, backed up by her husband Lester and the Friends of Wilberforce Cemetery led to the construction of sturdy fencing and drainage works, making a grave restoration project worth the effort. Prior to this there was no point starting expensive restoration work if continuing vandalism and erosion would undo it. The attractive security fence is visible in many of the photos used earlier in this article.

The painstaking work of Cathy McHardy in documenting the graves in this cemetery in her excellent book ‘Sacred to the Memory’ provided a solid starting point for confirming the identities of persons buried in this grave site.

Eventually all the ‘gunna’ talk turned into the establishment of a Committee. At that stage the group had no local credibility – there was no long-established family group, as for many other old Hawkesbury families. However the ever-helpful Michelle Nicholls, the Local Studies and Outreach Librarian at the Hawkesbury, offered the use of a meeting room at the Library where a few Committee members met three or four times to work on 'the plan', with results reported in earlier progress reports on this blog. It was agreed that the Committee needed members with Brown and Bushell surnames, and national representation, and work began with a ten-person Committee which included two more Barry Browns:
  • Louise Wilson (South Melbourne, VIC) Chairperson
  • Patsy Templeton (St Ives, NSW) Minutes Secretary
  • Catherine Broady (Thornleigh, NSW)
  • Barry Brown (Gold Coast, QLD)
  • Barry E Brown (Perth, WA)
  • Stan Brown (Wilberforce, NSW)
  • Connie Bushell (Richmond, NSW)
  • Stephen Bushell (Knoxfield, VIC)
  • Marj Clarke (Wilberforce, NSW
  •  Rachel Hargrave (Penrith, NSW)
Barry Brown (from Newcastle), Craig Johnson, Grant Skinner, Sach Killam, Catherine Broady, Patsy Templeton, Rachel Hargrave, Louise Wilson (from Melbourne), Marj Clarke, Stephen Bushell (from Melbourne), Hawkesbury City Councillors Jill Reardon & Dr Warwick Mackay
Neither of the Committee's Barry Browns could get to the opening but the 'original' Barry Brown of Newcastle (shown on the left of the group photo, with the white beard) was very pleased to be in attendance and see his dream come true.

The success of the project is due to an excellent team effort performance but in particular Louise Wilson would like to thank her 'Second Lieutenant' Patsy Templeton (in the centre of the above picture, in the light blue patterned shirt). Patsy is the liaison person for the Bushell family for the Ebenezer Church Newsletter. The two women became 'new best friends' as a result of the endless phone calls required to keep each other motivated when the going got tough. Patsy also provided essential feedback on the drafts of various written documents. It was also great to work closely with Barry Brown in Perth and Stephen Bushell in Melbourne, with input from other Committee members from time to time.

The main stumbling block confronting the Committee was the same problem faced in earlier years – in the absence of a significant benefactor, how to solicit money from the public? All sorts of legal obstacles apply and there are burdens involved in running a Trust account. No-one wanted that particular responsibility, especially the problem of opening bank accounts, managing dual signatories, and dealing with any money left over.

Luckily, an interview on ABC radio in Melbourne with a representative of the crowdfunding group Pozible seemed to provide all the answers. At a subsequent Committee meeting the Council’s Parks Project Officer Craig Johnson, bless him, had the imagination to see where this approach could lead, grasped the crowdfunding idea as workable and agreed to push the idea with Hawkesbury City Council. As Council owned the cemetery and was responsible for Public Liability and Occupational Health & Safety, the Committee's suggested approach kept control of the works in Council’s hands.

A great partnership began as Council began to understand that this pioneering approach to restoring heritage graves had much wider significance, both for its numerous historic cemeteries and for other old cemeteries nation-wide.

Next the Committee had to work out what physical tasks needed to be done, technically, and needed to find stonemasons to perform quite a difficult undertaking. Happily, Craig knew about the Monumental-Heritage team of the Rookwood General Cemeteries Reserve Trust. Its Lead Hand and Cemetery Conservation Specialist, Sach Killam, prepared a detailed quote. Louise Wilson said 'we then knew how much money we needed to raise. We thank Sach for everything since - his amazing expertise, his onsite supervision and all members of his team for their keen participation in this significant restoration project'.

The crowdfunding process took everyone up a steep learning curve, a panic-ridden ride at times as crowdfunding through the Pozible platform was an all-or-nothing venture. If you don’t get enough public support to reach your target, the promised funds are not ‘activated’. So, a crowdfunding campaign to raise sufficient funds has to be well-planned, well-publicised throughout its existence, and involves a great deal of ongoing interaction with donors. In 2014, 9 September was a great day because the end point of the 60-day crowdfunding campaign revealed that the target of $16,000 had been reached and slightly exceeded. This was the first time crowdfunding had been used for the restoration of a grave. The funds raised ($16,750 from 69 donors) were later topped up by further donations of $100 each from four people, and the book rewards were donated, so 74 people contributed generously. Their names have been published in a separate list of donors.

Once the money was deposited as a lump sum into the Council’s bank account, Craig Johnson and Sach Killam took over the running of the project, and the Committee kept donors involved via a dedicated Facebook page. That page, and the 16 progress reports on this blog, is a resource now available to the public around Australia as a guide for others desiring to restore heritage graves.

Since then

In the four years since the 'opening ceremony', the altar monument has weathered well, as predicted by the restoration team.  It no longer stands out as new work in the Wilberforce Cemetery and the 'crazy paving' effect has softened as the sharp demarcation lines between joined-up fragments of stone have aged and blurred.
The restored altar monument blends in
Hopefully this 'how-to' story will now inspire other families around Australia to restore their own precious heritage gravesites. For small scale projects like this, government grants are not available and family members must take the initiative.

Signage still needed

Yet to be arranged for the Paul Bushell and David Brown Heritage Grave is suitable permanent signage, to stand beside the grave and provide information about the persons buried on this plot. The stumbling block has been achieving agreement about the wording on the top slab, which was broken in several places and very weathered after so many years of exposure to the extremes of climate at the Hawkesbury.  The picture shows the eroded top left corner and the various joins and patches made during the reconstruction work.
Top slab
Since it was largely the readers of the Bushell book who could be easily contacted and informed about the restoration project, they contributed most of the necessary funds to rebuilding the altar monument. Once the wording is agreed, hopefully it will be members of the wider branches of the Brown family tree who will help with the costs of the new signage, expected to total several thousands of dollars.

The book 'Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter' is still available for purchase. Louise Wilson's rather rash promise to write a book about Paul's father-in-law David Brown led to substantial research prior to 2010 and the crafting of an extensive first draft, but as yet remains in her computer.




Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grave Project, Bulletin No 15 - List of Donors

The names below (in alphabetical order of surnames) record the generous and community-minded people who donated money to the Bushell Brown Grave Project and have helped preserve some of the earliest European history of Australia. Most of the Bushells and Browns lie beneath the upper altar monument, while 12-year-old Ann Brown lies beneath the lower altar monument.

All descendants of Paul Bushell and David Brown thank each donor most sincerely.

Chris Allen
Gloria, Frank & Russell Anderson
Kerrie Basclain
Rachel Bentham
Belinda Blaxland
Hugh Borrowman
Catherine Broady
Barry Brown, NSW
Barry Brown, WA
Fiona Brown
Les Brown
Neil Brown
David & Leith Bruce-Steer
Alisa Bushell
Anthony Bushell
Gary & Margaret Bushell
Gwen Bushell
Keith & Helen Bushell
Peter Bushell
Robyn Bushell
Stephen & Glenda Bushell
Kerrie & David Carson
Marjorie Clarke & Arthur Crothers
Anne Cobcroft
Families of Darcey & Vivienne Croft
Frank Dennis
Margaret Devine
Dawn Dunn
Shirley Evans
Michael Flynn
Kathy Foord
Barbara Fromberg
Robert Fuller
Helen Gillespie-Jones
Peter Hutley
Paul Jones
Bettina Krikmann
Elaine Lally
Stephanie Lee
Berrill (Keen) Ley
Robyn Lobb
Susan Lough
Jessie Love
Sebastian, Saul & Elspeth Marley
Brian & Elizabeth Marshall
Daryl Martin
Norma McLean
Jane & David Miller
Clare Nowlan
Alanna & Mason Orr
Robert Orr
Debbie Owens
Michael P (Anonymous)
Lynette Payne
Toby Pieters & Dianne Gardiner
Jennifer Prineas
Peter Prineas
Pling Px
Jeremy Rankin
Cano Scott
Keith South
Marie Emily Steley
Nigel Stokes
Rae Szuch
Babs Taylor
Grant Taylor
Patsy Templeton
Marilyn Thrupp
Pamela Tilbrook
Linda Ellen Townsend OAM & Kenneth George Townsend
& their children George Edward Townsend, Christopher Kenneth Townsend, Leellen Katherine Van Deven & Janice Kay Nurrish
Rowena Townsend
Sally Turner
Carol Vance-Roberts
Alan Walker
Helen Welsh
Louise Wilson

Stay tuned to this site for progress reports and news of the eventual 'unveiling' of the restored graves. As advised in Bulletin No 14, the upper altar monument will have a different restoration treatment to the lower altar monument.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grave Project, Bulletin No 14 - All Systems 'Go'

On November 19, Committee members Louise Wilson & Patsy Templeton, stonemasons Sach Killam, Grant Skinner & Matthew Johnson and Craig Johnson of the Hawkesbury City Council met at the Wilberforce Cemetery. Representatives of Heritage NSW were meant to be there also, but made their apologies.
From left: Matthew Johnson, Craig Johnson, Grant Skinner, Sach Killam
The purpose was to discuss the implications of Sach Killam's report, dated 11 November, quite a positive read. Arising from it, the main talking point concerned the lower altar monument, which does not have an underground vault and appears to be the burial site for only one person, 12 year old Ann Brown. We speculated about this and decided that between her death in 1819 and the next death (her father David in 1826), Paul Bushell had joined the family and it must have been decided that a family vault was appropriate and could be afforded.

Many important structural pieces are missing from Ann’s monument, but what remains does not fit within any known style of altar monument. This was an exciting conclusion from Sach Killam's scoping study of 2 October. Since Ann's grave seems to be unique in NSW, there are no guidelines from which we can copy. This makes Ann's grave (and the cemetery) all the more interesting from a Heritage perspective but means that her grave is not a viable candidate for proper restoration according to Heritage guidelines, until such time as we have a clear idea of its original design. (We may never know.)

Accordingly, Sach Killam suggested that we focus on fully restoring the upper altar monument, and that we simply restack the remaining pieces for the lower monument in a better configuration, and replace the top slab back in position on top of the pile. In effect, it will look like a low-rise altar monument (without sides or supporting pillars). This will place the focus of attention on the upper altar monument, where most of the family is buried.

Inspection of the Council depot later on 19 November proved that none of the missing stonework from the graves has been stored there following Council cleanups.

The meeting also pondered where the rounded segment of a child’s headstone would have fitted, and Craig Johnson afterwards located an old map of the cemetery showing an infant’s grave above and alongside the upper altar monument.

All these deliberations enabled a final quote to be prepared on 3 December, containing several options, one priced at $15,200 and the other at $17,750 (the latter relevant to both monuments).

Although our fund-raising campaign mentioned restoration of both altar monuments, the eight-member Committee today agreed unanimously that full restoration cannot be done to the lower altar monument if there is no information about its original design. Accordingly, we have agreed to spend $15,200 for the following work:
Reinstallation of Upper Altar tomb on new plinth slab & re stack lower tomb
 Supply new Wondabyne Sandstone to suit dimensions for missing pieces of upper Altar tomb
 Install existing and new sandstone as per proposal supplied for the upper Altar tomb
 Carefully stack remaining pieces of lower vault over gravesite as per proposal
The Committee having now accepted the quotation, the ball rests in the court of the stonemasons, who will confirm the proposed works with the Heritage authorities and Hawkesbury City Council. Although the holiday season is upon us, we are hoping for action to commence soon.

Needless to say, the Committee is both relieved and excited that restoration of this historic site is within our grasp, at last.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grave Project, Bulletin No 13 - Preparatory Work Begins

Preparatory work began on the Bushell Brown gravesite at the Wilberforce Cemetery on 2 October, when stonemasons Sach Killam, Grant Skinner and Matthew Johnson gathered there to investigate the scope of works. Committee member Patsy Templeton watched the proceedings as an interested observer, and was impressed with the courtesy, care and commitment shown by all three men on this first day - the care they took around the grave-sites, the respect they showed to other graves and their careful approach to the challenging nature of moving the stones without any stress on the stones themselves.

Work began with the unloading of a hand driven mobile crane from a truck.
The crane was trundled through the cemetery and was set up very close to the two piles of stones, ready to lift the heavier slabs.
One of the four feet was set up on the Cobcroft grave sites behind the Bushell/Brown sites. There was of course no damage to this site. 
The next job was to set up runs of wooden supports, some hardwood and some softwood. Strips of artificial grass were rolled out, to avoid discolouration from soil and natural grass. The stones were carefully lifted off the piles and laid out for sorting. There was no possibility of any of the stones being scratched during the moving. 
Sach and Matthew set up the stones in matching styles and thicknesses, taking measurements all the while. It quickly became obvious which stones belonged to which grave site.
The upper grave seems to be made of sandstone, which was quite thin (as per the above picture), and the sides of the altar tomb were slabs which were inscribed with names, and fitted together with the top slab in a groove. The top slab has 2 large pieces which fit together, plus a few small bits, one of which is a little more substantial than the others. There appears to be two side pieces of the four, plus Mary Brown’s engraved piece, but no corner pieces. The outer base is in situ, and the base of the altar vault itself seems to be about 50% there. However the challenge with this altar monument lies under the ground. On further investigation, it was found that the archway entrance to the vault (shown in the upper centre of the picture below), made of brick, had been eroded, and builder’s cement poured into the vault to support the archway and stop further erosion. This will need to be discussed with Heritage.
The lower grave was made of a sort of granite, much thicker (as the pictures above and below show), and its sides were self-supporting under the top slab, with a design on them. The lower grave is in better shape. Both pieces of the top slab are there, along with a few of the side pieces and corner pieces and a solid base on which to put the new base for restoration work.
The following picture shows the current appearance of the grave site, with the stones removed from their former stacks and laid out on the runners behind the grave.
The stones will remain laid out as pictured until Sach prepares his report on his findings and recommendations, a quote is received and approved, Heritage approval is given (hopefully before Christmas), and the actual restoration work begins.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Grave Project, Bulletin No 12 - Funds Raised

We did it! September 9 was a great day, when we reached the end point of our 60-day fund-raising campaign and we'd surpassed our target of $16,000.

The funds raised ($16,750 from 69 donors) were later topped up by further donations of $100 each from 4 people, and a Committee member donated all the book rewards, thereby saving on the campaign's out of pocket expenses.

The Committee would like to thank every one of the 74 people who contributed so generously to this worthwhile venture, honouring our earliest European settlers. Donor names will be published in a separate list.


After paying the commission to Pozible and the various credit card processing fees, the net amount of $15,887.70 is now sitting in the bank account of the Hawkesbury City Council. We are very happy to announce that the sum is sufficient to meet the quoted costs for the grave restoration work.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Grave Restoration Project - Bulletin No 11

At last, the fund-raising campaign has begun. The campaign got off to a flying start with the contribution of $1,270 within the first two hours. Today, at the start of Day 2, with 59 days to go, donations have reached $1,570. Please keep them coming!


We're using 'crowd funding' via Pozible Project No 177971 to solve the problem of soliciting the public for money. This is a very innovative approach to the restoration of historic graves, an activity which generally-speaking is not eligible for government grants, even where heritage status applies. And our approach is a trail blazer, proved by its front-page listing on Pozible's Community website.

We've solved another hassle, and relieved the Committee of the burden of setting up and administering a Trust Fund, by making an arrangement with the Hawkesbury City Council to accept the donations into a specially-designated account.

Even better, since the Cemetery has Heritage listing and the Council is the management authority for the Wilberforce Cemetery, Council will act as project manager, will pay the bills out of our account and will accept public liability risk. Their welcome involvement solves many of the problems of a volunteer Committee, including the problem of what to do with any surplus funds, which will stay in the kitty for similar projects in the future.

It should be fun to visit the Pozible site regularly to check on our progress as the countdown proceeds and the funding promises grow. Make sure you watch our short video on the Pozible website - just click on the arrow in the bottom left hand corner of the header picture. Feedback on our campaign is always appreciated.

We urge you to visit our Pozible campaign site, make your donation using your credit card, and then tell your family and friends about this worthwhile campaign, encouraging their support for it. (Sorry, we are not a registered charity so donations are not tax-deductible.) If we don't reach our target, Pozible will not collect on the promised donations and the project will lapse. Completely. We're anxious not just to reach our target but to zoom past it, into the stratosphere even, as any surplus funds we collect will be put towards the next historic grave restoration project in the Hawkesbury.

Remember, you don't have to be a descendant of the Bushell and Brown families to help with a donation. As the last resting place of 34 people who came on the First, Second and Third Fleets, the significance of Wilberforce Cemetery within Australia's modern history makes this project worthy of support by anyone, living anywhere, with an interest in protecting Australia's heritage for future generations.