El Alamein Memorial Fountain | NSW Environment & Heritage

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El Alamein Memorial Fountain

Item details

Name of item: El Alamein Memorial Fountain
Other name/s: Fitzroy Gardens Group, Kings Cross Fountain, King's Cross Fountain
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Monuments and Memorials
Category: War Memorial
Location: Lat: -33.8729052882 Long: 151.2249990750
Primary address: Macleay Street, Kings Cross, NSW 2011
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Hectares (approx): 0.054
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT1 DP447466
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Macleay StreetKings CrossSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address
Macleay StreetPotts PointSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The El Alamein Memorial Fountain is of State significance as a spectacular fountain and outstanding work of modernist design in water which has been copied all over the world. Throughout the decades of the 1960s and 1970s it was an icon of Sydney, rivalling the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House for the frequency with which it was represented in tourism imagery. Aesthetically it is rare in NSW as a local adaptation of the organic school of Scandinavian architectural design and as an example of the application of modernist design technology to fountain design.

The El Alamein Memorial Fountain is of State significance as a war memorial to the Australian soldiers of the 9th Division who fought near the Egyptian town of El Alamein in two battles which helped turn the course of World War II towards victory for the Allies. It is also of State significance for its associations with its designer Bob Woodward, a World War II veteran whose career was consequently shifted into national and international prominence as a fountain designer largely because of its popular and critical success. It is rare as a war memorial in NSW which commemorates a battle rather than the loss of individual members of the armed forces. It is also unusual because its beauty as a fountain has historically almost overwhelmed its solemn function a war memorial.
Date significance updated: 28 Oct 10
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Designer/Maker: Robert Woodward
Construction years: 1959-1961
Physical description: 'This fountain has a globe-like shape, with a diameter of 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) and comprises 211 radially arranged 'stalks' fitted to a hollow metal globe, itself placed on top of a brass pipe column with a length of 10ft (3.05 m) and a diameter of 4 in. (10cm). The central globe is made of cast brass [in fact bronze, according to CMP] and its diameter measures 46 cm. Each stalk consists of a tube 1.5 inch [2cm] thick at the base and reducing to 0.5 inch [0.8cm] at the outer end. A specially constructed nozzle has been fitted to each of these extremities. . . [There are] three terraced pools made of concrete and covered with white mosaic glass tiles. The perimeter coping is faced with quartzite and the two upper pools' spillways are formed by bronze dentils. The water is pumped through the line strainer - at a rate of 500 gallons (2,270 litres) per minute and a pressure of 22 lb. [10kg] per square inch - up to the central sphere where it emerges from each of the 211 nozzles as a thin 18 inch [45cm] disc of water. These disks of water merge together and create the impression of a huge thistledown [or dandelion]. The water from the nozzles falls first to the top pool and then runs between the spillway dentils from pool to pool. Through nine glory hole outlets and underground pipes the water returns into the screening baskets and back to the tanks so that it can circulate again.' (International Lighting Review, 1963). The glory holes compensate almost exactly for the consecutive reduction in weir length from pool to pool. Each glory hole drains the equivalent of ~32 troughs. This means that the weirs draining the pools and all 9 glory holes have identical flow.

The fountain sits above the top pool of a series of four pools, set among cobblestone paving near the south-western edge of Fitzroy Gardens. As the land is sloping gently eastward, its design responds to the site, with successive pools lower down this slope towards the east. The top pool in which the fountain apparatus is mounted is hexagonal in form. Lower pools reflect this form but are larger, with expanded dimensions. A series of spillway dentils in bronze direct water down from pool to pool through a fine series of 'teeth' which make a very precise noise, helping dull traffic noise (Stuart Read, personal communication, 8/6/10).

Below ground to its immediate north-east is the fountain's pump room, which houses its operative mechanisms. Also to the north east of the fountain is a plinth with two plaques which read:

'THE EL ALAMEIN MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN
THIS FOUNTAIN WAS ERECTED IN COMMEMORIATION
OF
THE DEEDS OF THE NINTH DIVISION, AUSTRALIAN IMPERIAL FORCES
IN WORLD WAR II
BY
THE COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SYDNEY
AND PLACED IN OPERATION BY
THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE LORD MAYOR OF SYDNEY
ALDERMAN H.F. JENSEN
ON
18.11.61
E.W. ADAMS
TOWN CLERK'

'THIS FOUNTAIN WAS DESIGNED BY
AND CONSTRUCTED UNDER
THE SUPERVISION OF
WOODWARD & TARANTO
ARCHITECTS'

The complete fountain head above the waterline and stalks were originally manufactured by Eric .L. Williams under the supervision of Robert Woodward.

Two 'London / hybrid' plane, Platanus x acerifolia (syn.P. x hispanica) trees dating from the time when the fountain was completed are considered to be of significance.

'Lighting installation. At night, this lighted fountain makes the impression of a display of fireworks bursting asunder. The light emanates from six reflector lamps of 500 W, mounted under the water-level of the upper basin. These lamps are placed around the main delivery pipe, in a circle with a diameter of some 1.20 m. Each lamp is mounted in a metal cylinder with a clear Pyrex glass cover and a bronze-coloured spun metal shielding ring which projects several inches above the water level. For maintenance purposes the cylinders can be reached from the equipment room under the central pool. This room houses a 25 h.p. electric motor, a 3-inch pump, a 3-inch strainer, switchboards and a set of three stainless steel screening baskets. Below the floor is a concrete tank of 3,000 gallons (ca 13 cu. m.). The operation of the fountain is controlled by a time switch.' (International Lighting Review, 1963)

The curtilage for the SHR listing is in the shape of a triangle with its three corners enclosing the three main viewing cones towards the fountain, from Darlinghurst Road, from Macleay Street north and from the Police Station. Within this curtilage are many non-significant or intrusive urban design elements including: roads and traffic signals; a Telstra telephone booth; a glass enclosed bus shelter; a tourist sign-post showing directions / distance to numerous world cities; a light post with multiple circular lights; a large bronze sculpture 'Angled Wheels of Fortune' designed and donated by property developer Dennis Wolanski in 1988 (Oultram, 2010, p434); a cafe with large awnings and cafe furniture; and a significant amount of recently planted vegetation. Although worthwhile in their own right, many of these elements interfere with views towards the fountain and should be repositioned when possible.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
At the time of its listing in late 2010, the fountain is in relatively poor condition, suffering from an accumulation of minor changes to its detailing over the years, and with its water flow affected by corrosion of the "stalks" following changes to the chemical treatment of the water introduced c2005. The City of Sydney is planning a major refurbishment of the fountain to bring it back to its former glory. The plans for these refurbishment works were discussed in detail with Robert Woodward before his death in January 2010, and consultation with the Woodward family has continued since then. The plans, supervised by Anne Cummins at Sydney Artefacts Conservation and involving replacing the stalks with new stalks crafted by the original manufacturers, E.L. Williams (at the insistence of Robert Woodward) have also been carefully scrutinised by the Heritage Branch.
Date condition updated:23 Aug 12
Modifications and dates: Refurbishment programme of repairs to the fountain (10 month works programme) carried out by Denis Williams, son of Eric Williams who built it originally in 1961 (Wentworth Courier, 18/1/12), completed August 2012.
Further information: Concerns about vandalism.
The designer Robert Woodward had some theories as to why the El Alamein Memorial Fountain was not being seriously vandalised, despite its prominent location in central Sydney:
'The El Alamein fountain, of course, it puzzles some people why it hasn't been destroyed. It is in an area which is very public, it doesn't have any quiet time when people can get to it and cause destruction, this helps considerably. At the same time, there is the initial protection of the pool as people can't reach the nozzles and stems from the outside. There is one final point there, that there is no challenge issued. Children will tend to destroy things if they're very delicate, by playing with them, but the bigger destruction, deliberate vandalism is offset in the El Alamein because vandals would rather be more inclined to pull over a 2-inch galvanized pipe with a sign on top and flatten that to the ground because there is some challenge there, but to bend a delicate half-inch tube just doesn't seem to have been done.' (Woodward interview with De Berg, 1972, p7117)
Current use: Public fountain
Former use: Public fountain

History

Historical notes: The El Alamein Memorial Fountain was designed by Robert Woodward, whose entry won a fountain design competition held by the Sydney City Council in 1959. El Alamein was named to commemorate the deeds of the Ninth Division of the Australian Infantry Forces (AIF) during World War II. The fountain, a focal point of the Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross, was opened by Lord Mayor Harry Jensen on 18 November 1961. Its superb modernist design evoking a huge dandelion of water, was an immediate critical and popular success. It has since been copied all over the world - both under Woodward's design supervision (for example, as a hemisphere at the Alcoa Building in San Francisco 1967; in double size at the Berger Foundation in Minneapolis, USA; and in miniature at the Perak Turf Club Ipoh, Malaysia 1978 ) and otherwise (for example in the 'dandelion fountains' found in Christchurch New Zealand, New York and Houston USA, Vancouver Canada, Nuneaton UK, Stuttgart and Dresden Germany, Lisse the Netherlands, Frstenfeld Austria, Reims France, Trgu Mures Romania, Stockholm Sweden, Istanbul Turkey, Donestk, Ukraine and Hong Kong China - as demonstrated in the photo sharing website, Flickr).

Aboriginal land
'The traditional owners of the Sydney City region are the Cadigal band [who form part of the Dharug language group]. Their land south of Port Jackson stretches from South Head to Petersham. . . Governor Phillip estimated there were about 1500 Aboriginal people within a 10 mile [17 kilometre] radius of Port Jackson [when he arrived] in 1788. . . The population reduced dramatically with the introduction of smallpox into Sydney's Aboriginal community in the first years of European contact. . . After the deaths of so many local people. . . new groups of remnant tribes formed. . . over 200 Kooris lived in Woolloomooloo [near Kings Cross] which remains an important site for Aboriginal people. It was set aside for them and Governor Macquarie re-dedicated it as a protected area in 1817. Huts and boats were built for the use of the Aborigines. . .
Gradually the indigenous people were pushed further out. Blanket distribution lists of the 1830s show that, apart from a group living in government boatsheds at Circular Quay, few people identified as Aboriginal were living in Sydney. Many had moved to places such as La Perouse on Botany Bay, south of the city. . . Sydney has more rock engraving sites than any other city in Australia. These sites demonstrate occupation, art and social systems. Engraved pavement areas were once widespread in the Sydney City area, but many have been lost beneath shopping malls, hotels and office towers.' (http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani/themes/theme1.htm)

Early colonisation of the land
The Woolloomooloo locality, also including Kings Cross, Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay, was the site of an area set aside by Governor Macquarie around 1817 for a composite group of Cadigal Aboriginal people under the leadership of Bungaree. A pen sketch by Edward Mason from 1822-3 shows a series of bark huts inhabited by indigenous people at that time. Within a few years, the next governor, Thomas Brisbane had re-designated the area, this time as an asylum for the insane (Heritage Branch SHR entry for Elizabeth Bay House, 2010). In 1826, 54 acres (22ha) of this land - supposedly set aside for an asylum - was granted to Alexander Macleay by Governor Darling. Although it was usual practice for grants to be made to eminent citizens in the colony, Macleay's grant generated heated editorials in Sydney's newspapers because it involved the alienation of land recently designated for the public purpose (Heritage Branch SHR entry for Elizabeth Bay House, 2010). Nonetheless Macleay soon set about improving the land using assigned convict labour. His horticultural expertise, assisted by gardener Robert Henderson, resulted in a private botanic garden with picturesque features including dwarf stone walls, rustic bridges and winding gravel walks (Hughes, 2002) amid the existing native vegetation (Heritage Branch SHR entry for Elizabeth Bay House, 2010). Elizabeth Bay House was commissioned from architect / builder John Verge, was constructed between 1832 and 1839, and is considered one of the finest colonial villas in Australia.

The El Alamein Memorial Fountain 'is thought to be in close proximity to the location of the entrance gates to the [Alexander Macleay Estate] property' (Keys Young, Draft Plan of Management for Fitzroy Gardens, c1997, p29). Those gate posts from the estate are now located on the southern edge of Cooper Park, on Victoria Road Bellevue Hill. (Stuart Read, pers.comm., 8/6/10).

Possibly due to political differences with the new, more liberal Governor Bourke, Macleay was ousted from his post as Colonial Secretary in 1837. The loss of salary and the onset of recession contributed to financial problems resulting in the an attempt to subdivide his Elizabeth Bay grant in 1841. . . In 1865 Alexander's son George Macleay inherited the estate. . . and progressively subdivided and sold leaseholds from it (Heritage Branch, SHR entry for Elizabeth Bay House, 2010) resulting in the growth of suburban housing in the localities now known as Elizabeth Bay, Potts Point and Kings Cross. '[The site of the Fitzroy Gardens and El Alamein Fountain] was part of the 1841 subdivision of Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay's 54 acre Elizabeth Bay Estate (City of Sydney, Histories of Parks webpage - Fitzroy Gardens, 2010).

Maramanah (64 Macleay Street, demolished 1954 to expand Fitzroy gardens, site of the El Alamein Fountain)
"Maramanah at 64 Macleay Street . . . was built in the early 1840s for the shipping master and merchant William Salmon Deloitte (1796-1870). Deloitte had visited Sydney at various times in 1810s and 1820s and settled here in 1838 and traded as WS Deloitte and Co. He was the father of rower Quarton Levitt (1843-1929) and accountant William Henry (1840- 1905). Deloitte purchased the property in 1842 and it was rated in 1845 by the City Council as comprising a stone dwelling and a coach house. Deloitte lost the property in 1850 by defaulting on a mortgage and it was then acquired by Anna Challis, the wife of John Henry Challis (1806-1880), the merchant and philanthropist and the man behind the bequest to the University of Sydney that transformed the financial well-being and status of that institution. Challis returned to England in 1855, but was resident at the property at the time of the City Council rate valuation for 1852. In 1859 the property was transferred to the squatter and politician Arthur Hodgson . . . [who] maintained extensive pastoral runs on the Darling Downs, Queensland. [H]e was a member of the NSW parliament in the late 1850s and the house was probably his city residence. (Oultram, 2010, 14)

"Hodgson. . . sold the property in November 1861 to Thomas Farrell. Over 1860s, 1870s and early 1880s the property was tenanted, the most notable tenant being Samuel Aaron Joseph. Joseph (1824-1898) was one of the founding directors of the mercantile firm of Montefiore, Joseph & Co. (1867). He became Chairman of City Bank of Sydney, and was a director of various companies, including the Australian Mutual Provident Society. He was Chairman of Sydney Exchange Company in 1888 and President of Sydney Chamber of Commerce 1887 - 1889. At the time of his stay in the house he was a member of the Legislative Council (from 1882). (Oultram, 2010, p14)

"Farrell died in 1883 and his extensive portfolio of properties was put up for sale by his widow. The sale notice described the property as: No. 74 Macleay Street 1885 (a residence) in every way suitable for a gentleman's establishment, and standing well retired from the road in highly ornate pleasure grounds, beautifully and profusely shrubbed and timbered. The property was purchased eventually by Edward Joseph Sparke in 1885, and remained his residence until his death in 1902. The house was named Maramanah by Sparke and he added the tower, south wing and front verandah. Maramanah then became the home of the Hollander family, who were immortalised in Robin Eakin's 1965 memoir Aunts up the Cross.(Oultram, 2010, p14)

"The property was requisitioned in 1943 for a recreation centre for US Navy enlisted personnel. From around mid 1945 this role changed to one of a canteen for Royal Navy personnel." (Oultram, 2010, p14)

Maramanah was bought by the City of Sydney c1944 for 38,200 pounds in order to be demolished for the expansion of Fitzroy gardens. "Maramanah was in the occupation of military forces at the time, but this ended in March 1946 where upon homeless families seized the property. At a time of acute housing shortage in Sydney, the occupation immediately brought a ban on its demolition by the Department of Labour and Industry and agreement from the Council that the building
could continue as a hostel for a period of two years. The Council also undertook improvements to make the place habitable. This agreement expired in May 1948, but it was not until mid 1954 when the squatters left and possession was gained by Council. In the intervening years, the Council was attacked in the press for its apparent lack of action as were the squatters who the locals claimed to be communist agitators. There was certainly some truth in the claims for Communist Party meetings were held and staff of its newspaper, The Tribune, were housed at Maramanah." (Oultram, 2010, p31).

Development of Fitzroy Gardens
Fitzroy Gardens' evolution mirrors the rich layers of history of the area since European settlement. It was originally part of Alexander Macleay's huge Elizabeth Bay estate and from about 1939 the area developed as a public park in several stages as sites became available (Its history is on Council's own website in the Park Histories section). The 'Fitzroy Gardens may be the only place in Sydney created and expanded by removing existing housing and created by and for specific community concerns' (Keys Young, c1997, p16).

The first stage of the development of the Fitzroy Gardens was the public acquisition of the house 'Osterley' at 62 Macleay Street, built in the 1870s and demolished in 1927. Resumed and landscaped in 1939, the park was named ' Fitzroy Gardens' after Fitzroy Ward of the City of Sydney, which itself had been named after NSW Governor Sir Charles FitzRoy (1846- 1855).

The park was enlarged when 'Maramanah' was demolished in 1954. In 1954 the City of Sydney resumed and demolished 'Tenilba' at 60 Macleay Street. On this site it built the Florence Bartley Library, completed in 1959 (demolished in 1997).

In 1975 Elizabeth Bay Road was closed to traffic and the former sites of 1-13 Elizabeth Bay Road were added to Fitzroy Gardens increasing its size by one-third. However part of this extra space was soon taken up by the Kings Cross Police Station, built 1979 (City of Sydney, Histories of Parks webpage - Fitzroy Gardens, 2010).

Kings Cross and its Fitzroy Gardens was a favoured site for Sydney's New Year's Eve revellers from 1936 until the mid 1970s when the first Harbour fireworks began drawing crowds away to The Rocks and Circular Quay. Fitzroy Gardens has always had two distinctly different uses. By day it is popular with mothers and children, the elderly and more dog owners. By night it has long been the haunt of people visiting the Kings Cross red light district. During the 1980s it became a notorious haunt of male prostitutes and their clients (City of Sydney, Histories of Parks webpage - Fitzroy Gardens, 2010).

The opening of the Florence Bartlett Library, 1959, and El Alamein Fountain, 1961, 'mark a turning point for the character of Fitzroy Gardens. Both structures received immediate recognition with the library winning the John Sulman Award in 1958, and the fountain quickly becoming a Sydney icon. The presence and importance of both, particularly the fountain, inspired the first attempt to improve and unify the entire park through a landscape design.' (Keys Young, Draft Plan of Management for Fitzroy Gardens, c1997, p6).

In 1971 Ilmar Berzins, the first qualified landscape architect to work in Sydney and Australia's first employed by a local Council, contributed the last phase of park upgrade and redesign. His work included level changes, plantings and the 'geometric' bed shapes that echo the famous fountain's pools. Berzins endowed his designs with contemporary European modernist philosophy, providing a strong contrast to the traditional Council designs of the time. His works are rare - Centennial Gardens, Hyde Park; and Arthur McElhone Reserve, Elizabeth Bay are other examples. He worked for Sydney City Council from c.1951 to 1988, ultimately as Director of Parks and Recreation.

Allan Correy, former senior lecturer and Head of the Landscape Architecture program at Sydney University, described this park and Berzins work: 'Fitzroy Gardens are at the very highest level of architectural heritage significance. At that time in Sydney only Ilmar Berzins was working on that scale, with a sophisticated approach to modern art and design. He was the only trained landscape architect. Berzin's Fitzroy Gardens and Bob Woodward's El Alamein Fountain go together - to think of the fountain without the gardens is (like) considering Elizabeth Bay House without its harbour setting and garden. Berzins' hallmarks include plants that are spectacular in terms of foliage and are used purely as architectural forms.'

Tempe McGowan wrote in an article on Berzins (Monument 25, 1998) 'He held the passionate belief that all people need to enjoy nature and that nature in turn can ameliorate the human temperament - His designs were socially responsive and typical of trends in international, modernist design culture in the way he created little arcadian retreats in the city wilderness' (Potts, Rosemary, 2010).

History of El Alamein battles in WWII
The El Alamein Fountain was commissioned as a memorial to soldiers from the Australian 9th Division who fought in 1942 during the World War II in two battles at El Alamein, Egypt. Both battles were important for the course of the war. The first battle, fought in July 1942, halted the advance of Axis forces into Egypt, and the second, fought in October and November 1942, routed them, and is considered a turning point in the Western Desert Campaign. The El Alamein fountain commemorates the Australian army's roles in the North Africa campaign in general, and the two El Alamein battles in particular (Wikipedia on the El Alamein Fountain).

The history of El Alamein is recounted in the Australian War Memorial's website:
Three major battles occurred around El Alamein between July and November 1942, and were the turning point of the war in North Africa. The Australian 9th Division, led by Lieutenant General Leslie Morshead, played a key role in two of these battles, enhancing its reputation earned defending Tobruk during 1941.

The struggle for North Africa saw the pendulum swing sharply in favour of the Axis from January 1942. . . By the end of June, the Axis leader Field Marshal Erwin Rommel had forced the Allies back deep into Egypt, and the capture of Cairo and the Suez Canal seemed a very real possibility. The Allies pinned all their hopes on their new defensive position near the tiny railway stop of El Alamein. Here, the battlefield narrowed between the coast and the impassable Qattara Depression. Rommel, wanting to maintain the pressure made another thrust on 1 July, hoping to dislodge Eighth Army from the Alamein position and open the way to Cairo and Suez. The Allies however had regrouped sufficiently to repulse the attack and make some counterattacks of their own. . .

Before dawn on 10 July the Allied army's 9th Division launched an attack on the northern flank and succeeded in taking the important high ground around Tel el Eisa. This caught Rommel off guard as he had concentrated his forces for his own offensive in the south. The Australians spent the next few days fighting off heavy counterattacks as Rommel redirected much of his forces against them. . . Fighting then spread to other parts of the front and continued for most of July. By the end of the month, both sides had fought each other to a standstill. On the 27th, one Australian Battalion, the 2/28th, was virtually wiped out when they were surrounded by German tanks . . .

When the fighting died down at the end of July, Eighth Army, despite its severe losses, could take some comfort knowing that it had stopped Rommel's drive into Egypt and now held the important high ground near the coast. . . From August until the end of October, the Allied army grew steadily in strength with the arrival of more troops and equipment. The Axis forces, on the other hand, were weakening, with their supply lines strangled by Allied air and naval attacks. . .

On the last day of August Rommel launched another offensive. In this last and desperate attempt to oust the Allies from the Alamein line, German and Italian armoured forces massed in the southern sector and made a sweeping hook that drove the Allies back to the Alam el Halfa Ridge. The Allied strength, however, soon proved itself as they pushed the Axis forces back over the next few days. . . On the night of 23 October 1942, a massive artillery barrage heralded the great Allied offensive. The infantry successfully captured most of their objectives; however, the tanks were unable to follow through and continue the thrust. With the Axis forces stubbornly holding their lines intact, the allied leader General Bernard Montgomery worried that his offensive was becoming bogged down. Changing tactics from the drive westwards, he ordered the Australians of 9th Division to switch their attack northward. What followed was a week of extremely fierce fighting, with the Australians grinding their way forward over well-defended enemy positions. As had happened in July, their gains so worried Rommel that he again diverted his strongest units to stop them. Places such as Thompson's Post, the Fig Orchard, the Blockhouse and the Saucer became an inferno of fire and steel as the Australians weathered the storm of bombs, shells and bullets.

With Rommel's attention firmly on the Australians in the north, naturally this left his line weakened further south, and on 2 November the British tanks struck a decisive blow there. The Panzerarmee had suffered crippling losses and Rommel was forced to order a general withdrawal, or face total annihilation. His army now began a headlong retreat that would soon see them ejected from Africa altogether.

Between July and November 1942, the Australian 9th Division suffered almost 6,000 casualties. Although the price was fearfully high, they had without doubt played a crucial role in ensuring an Allied victory in North Africa.
(Australian War Memorial, 'Encyclopedia', http://www.awm.gov.au/encyclopedia/el_alamein/reading.asp)

Competition for the El Alamein Memorial Fountain
Woodward & Taranto 'won the main prize of 500 pounds in 1959 in the City Council fountains competition. . . The competition had been organised by the Sydney Fountains Committee, which was established in September 1958. Its aim was to put fountains in public places in Sydney to enhance their natural beauty and to commemorate families, individuals and organisations. . . A Designs Committee . . . was responsible for the design competitions for fountains in a number of selected sites, such as the Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross, Moore Park, Customs House Square, and Macquarie Place. . . The competition for the Fitzroy Gardens fountain was assessed by a panel of architects (Max Collard, President of the RAIA (NSW Chapter), and Professor Leslie Wilkinson), sculptors (Douglas Annand), and the City Council (C. Garth, Director of Parks).

The Committee's design brief for the fountain was: 'The fountain shall cost not more than &10,000 complete. Whilst the fountain is not to be a war memorial in the generally accepted sense, it is nevertheless contemplated that Fitzroy Gardens will become a local assembly point on Anzac Day and the fountain will be known as a war memorial fountain.' This association between the park and a war memorial began in October 1957 when the Kings Cross Sub-Branch of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Imperial League of Australia approached the Council about the possibility of changing the name of the park to El Alamein Park. In December 1958 the Council resolved to hold a public competition for designs for a fountain to be provided in Fitzroy Gardens that may also serve as a memorial. (Oultram, 2010, p38)

The Australiasian Post explained further: 'The plan for the fountain was suggested by the King's Cross RSL, when they asked that a place be set aside for memorial services 'because older servicemen are finding it very difficult to get to and from the Memorial gates opposite the wharves in Woolloomooloo'. (Australasian Post, 21/12/1967, pp12-13).

Reception of the fountain since completion
Tom Heath's appraisal of El Alamein in1962 captured the excitement of the moment:
'El Alamein fountain at Kings Cross has fulfilled beyond expectation the promise of the original design . . . Surely no one can pass this dandelion of water gleaming in the sun or glowing with its own internal light at night and resist its fascination. The bold formality of the sphere catches one's attention immediately, yet this first impression of simplicity gives way at once to a fascinating complexity. The sphere is not a sphere but a mass of saucer shaped facets. The facets are not saucer-shaped but complex curves deformed by wind and gravity. There are transparencies, reflections and rainbow effects in the curtain of spray. By the time one has observed this much, one is obstructing the traffic and being regarded with contempt by old men who have been studying it all comfortably from benches for hours' (Architecture Australia, Sept 1962, p124).

El Alamein Fountain won the inaugural RAIA NSW Chapter Civic Design Award in 1964. Woodward explained 'We had nominated it for design awards but it was considered not to be architecture and so it didn't get an award. [The NSW Institute of Architects] then instigated a new award, the Civic Design Award, because of the El Alamein Fountain' (Johnson, 1996, p195)

' 'A fountain of great beauty', said the Judges, in presenting the new NSW Chapter of the RAIA Civic Design Award to architects Woodward, Tarantino and Wallace for the breathtaking El Alamein Fountain at King's Cross, Sydney. The jury considered there could hardly be a more appropriate recipient of this first Civic Design Award' (Building Lighting Engineering, Oct 1965, p9).

An article in the popular magazine Australasian Post in 1967 stated:
'It is probably one of the most beautiful man-made things in the land. . . Since Sydney's beautiful King's Cross fountain was first turned on, little over six years ago, people from all parts of the world have asked, 'Who dreamed it up?' And they're still asking. The designer is an Australian, Mr Robert Raymond Woodward, and the fountain has made him famous. Today he is recognized as the world's top fountain designer. Last month he came back from San Francisco, where he supervised the installation of a fountain built to his own design. Night and day, people come to take pictures of his King's Cross fountain. . . Everybody seems to know about the fountain and it is now a recognised easy-to-find meeting place because 'anybody will tell you where it is'. Mr C.S. Garth, Sydney's Director of Parks, said, 'We knew the fountain was original, that it was unique. We knew it would create a lot of interest. But I don't think anyone realised just how much interest it would create. Overseas visitors come here, take color pictures, and take them home, Now everyone seems to want a fountain like ours'. . . Mr Garth said the original cost of the fountain was $32,028 and the annual maintenance bill was about $3248.Cost of electricity to operate the floodlights and water-circulating mechanism absorbs $3048 of the maintenance allotment' (Australasian Post, 21/12/1967, pp12-13)

Freeland's Architecture in Australia, 1967 stated:
'Fountains were particularly popular and prestigious because of their patent luxury after nearly sixty years when circumstances had demanded a practical return for any money spent. Only one of the many fountains erected throughout Australia was really successful - and it could hardly have been more so. The El Alamein fountain designed by Woodward and Taranto and erected at Kings Cross in Sydney in 1961 is a splendid sculpture in water. Its ephemeral ever-changing ever-remaining lightness dances tantalizingly in the sunshine or turns the reflections of gaudy neon lights into jewels at night. Its poetry was a sculptural breakthrough not only in Australia but in the world' (Freeland, 1967, p313).

Carol Henty wrote for the Bulletin in 1978:
'It is to Sydney what Eros is to London. The inner city heads for it on New Year's Eve. Pranksters have dyed it green, put soap bubbles through it and bathed nude in it. It's sometimes called the dandelion. Or the puff ball. Or the porcupine. Officially it's the El Alamein Fountain in Fitzroy Gardens, Kings Cross - the first fountain designed by Sydney's Bob Woodward, opened 18 years ago but with a touch of magic that's still potent. At last count 72 American companies were manufacturing it in seven different sizes and exporting it worldwide, making it probably the world's most copied fountain' (Henty, 1978, p53).

In an interview with Woodward in 1996, architectural historians Paul Alan Johnson and Susan Lorne Johnson stated, 'Australians really seem to have taken the fountain to their hearts. . . Australians don't usually seem to be overly enthusiastic about their sculpture or their architecture. . . The fountain is now an icon in Australia and internationally admired' (Johnson, 1996, p193, 195).

'The El Alamein Fountain represents an important technological innovation in fountain design, and has been much replicated throughout the world' (Keys Young, Draft Plan of Management for Fitzroy Gardens, c1997, p29)

Robert Woodward, fountain designer
Robert Raymond Woodward (1923-2010) was born in Wentworthville in Sydney's western suburbs, the son of a public service accountant. Bob attended Granville Central Technical School, then Sydney Technical High School with a view to becoming a manual arts teacher. This career path was interrupted by the advent of World War II when Woodward joined the army. He was initially stationed with the Lachlan Macquarie 54th Regiment in Bathurst, then at Victoria Barracks where he completed an armoury course at East Sydney Technical College. Woodward later explained that being in the army at a young age had taught him to be responsible for the work he was doing and how to give instructions effectively (de Berg, 1972). It also opened up the opportunity to study architecture at the University of Sydney after the war as part of the huge post-war repatriation intake of ex-servicemen.

Woodward commenced his architectural degree in 1947 and was impressed by teachers such as Leslie Wilkinson, George Molnar and Lloyd Rees. As a student he worked for Harry 'Pergola' Divola and Peddle Thorp & Walker, while in 1950 he represented Australia in the 440 yard hurdles at New Zealand's British Empire Games. After graduation in 1952 he joined the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and worked briefly for Peddle Thorp & Walker, detailing industrial buildings, but soon headed off for England. He toured Europe with friends from Sydney before settling in Finland where he was privileged to work for a year with Alvar Aalto. He also spent another year in Finland working for the firm of Viljo Revell.
Woodward considered that architectural education in Finland was impressive in the way that it demanded that its students actually build structures. He considered that 'architects need to understand materials' and was impressed by 'Aalto's multi-disciplinary approach where landscape is involved in the building, and interior design, lighting, furnishings, fabrics. . . I think Aalto's main contribution, and this is to put it very simplistically . . . was that he was able to get the best of Bauhaus as well as organic work. . . Aalto's principles, as stated by him, are that essentially everything in architecture is related to biology. If you take a leaf from a tree, for example, you can see. . . design principles which should apply to architecture itself. The first item is cellular structure which Aalto saw as the cells being spatial - not physical elements put together but spaces, and a leaf is made up of a whole multitude of similar cells. They mightn't be the same but they are similar and from one family. The way they are structured together is a flexible combination of those elements - cellular structure, flexible combination and the repetition. . .' (Johnson, 1996, pp189-190)

Woodward returned to Sydney in 1954 where he had some job offers from big firms, but instead formed a small partnership with Phil Taranto in Bankstown, later joined by Scott Wallace. They worked on small scale sites like a fruit shop in Bankstown, where they rationalized the work spaces, designed light fittings and introduced mirrored walls to increase the impression of light and plenty - innovations which were widely 'copied and mass produced' (Johnson, 1996, p193).

In 1959, Woodward submitted a design to a City of Sydney competition to construct a fountain in Kings Cross, mainly as a professional 'design exercise' for himself (Johnson, 1996, p194). He won the competition in the name of his firm Woodward & Taranto and went on to build the El Alamein Fountain. This was an immediate success and led to the gradual reorientation of his career into national and international prominence as a fountain designer. In 1968 the Woodward Taranto Wallace partnership was dissolved and Woodward continued alone as a sole practitioner with a focus on fountain design, joining the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects in 1989. He is responsible for many of the most prominent and admired fountains in Australia.

In his oral history interviwe with Hazel de Berg in 1972, Woodward stated:
'I like water very much, it's a fine medium to work in, a little difficult of course, one can't put it in a lathe or shape it as you do with metals, or forge it or cast it, but those difficulties themselves are what give it its main charm, I think, it's a medium to work in, a sculptural medium, it has form, it has transparency, it reflects light, has movement. It has constantly changing form, although one can control it. One can control the general form and let natural variations of water flow or wind or lighting variations give added charm and character whilst still directing the general form. '(De Berg, 1972, p7111)
Woodward suggested that he didn't restrict himself to fountain design, as he explained to De Berg:
'The reason I do mostly fountain work and sculptural work now is . . . [it] is the most interesting work that is available. I'm working free-lance and I don't mind what the work is as long as it is interesting and I can achieve some result. . . there is a whole range of things that can be done and fields I would like to work in. As an example, there is the transport system, I would dearly love to have a commission just to re-plan in all respects our transport system for this state. . . The limitations, of course, are political and commercial ones, they'd be the ones I'd find it very difficult to overcome but if it was just from a design point of view only, I'd be delighted to take on a commission of that nature' (De Berg, p7112, 7122-3).

Woodward was the recipient of many awards and honours in his lifetime, including the NSW Institute of Architect's Civic Design Award for the El Alamein Fountain in 1964, eight other Institute of Architecture chapter awards and the 1992 AILA National Awards in Landscape Architecture Civic Design Project Award. In 1987 he was made a Member of Order of Australia for his services to architecture and fountain design.

Selected Works by Robert Woodward: (from Australian Institute of Landscape Architects):
El Alamein Memorial Fountain Kings Cross, Sydney 1959
St Paul's Church Wentworthville, Sydney 1964
Alcoa Forecourt Fountain San Francisco 1967
Archibald Memorial Fountain, Restoration of 1933 fountain, Hyde Park, Sydney 1968
Bank of California Fountain Portland, Oregon 1969
Geyser Room Restaurant, New Zealand Pavilion, Expo 70 Osaka 1970
Tupperware Forecourt Fountain Orlando, Florida 1970
Chifley Square Fountain Sydney 1971
Grace Memorial Fountain, Roselands Campsie, Sydney 1972
Berger Foundation Fountain Minneapolis 1975
Wall of Water, Sydney Square Town Hall, Sydney 1976
Blue Wave Ceramic Sculpture, Bondi Junction Plaza Sydney 1977
Mini El Alamein Fountain, Perak Turf Club Ipoh, Malaysia 1978
Canberra Times Fountain Canberra 1979
Forecourt Cascades, High Court of Australia Canberra 1980
Five Islands Fountain donated by the Illawarra Mercury Wollongong 1981
G.J. Coles Fountain, Parliament Gardens Melbourne 1981
Lane Cove Plaza Proposal Lane Cove, Sydney 1981
Mount Street Doughnuts North Sydney 1982
New South Wales Parliament House Courtyard Fountain Sydney 1983
Lyric Theatre Fountain, Queensland Performing Arts Centre Brisbane 1984
Palmerston City Square Fountain Darwin 1985
Pacific Bell Forecourt Fountain San Ramon, California 1988
Australian Parliament House Forecourt Canberra 1988
Darling Harbour Water Feature outside Convention Centre Sydney 1988
Modular Spiral Stair, precast Bankstown

Descriptions of the design process for El Alamein Fountain
From Paul Alan Johnson and Susan Lorne Johnso's oral history interview with Woodward in 1996:
'I studied the subject first and the problem with the El Alamein fountain was that it was on a very small site cut off curve on one side and a straight line on the park side, and a street around two sides, basically. I would go to Kings Cross and look at it, both in the day and at night, and realize that as you walk down the street and look backwards, traffic blocked the view. It needed to be high enough to be seen above cars and, luckily, people's eye line is just above cars. The fountain needed to be seen from three different streets and the streets were different in those days - it needed to be a three dimensional thing.
'I suppose the first idea that came to me was a ball of water and even the word itself seemed an appropriate thing of King's Cross. Once I began to do sketches for it, it began to take on some natural form but how does one get a ball of water? The answer was with repetition once again. The ideal way of creating a ball of water was to take the water to a central point and just radiate it out from there. Enough elements are used to give richness and you don't have to create a round, solid ball and pour water over it because, simplistically, water is the prime element to use in a fountain rather than something solid. Most sculptors would tend to work with bronze or some other material first and then water.

'Fairly quickly my design evolved to form a dandelion. Of course the presentation method was difficult because how do you present water? I did that by going to Kings Cross and taking photographs of the site and then blowing them up and making a montage. I even used an old photograph of a dandelion in a montage.

'You don't draw from nature so much as nature imposes itself upon you. Another thing about the design process was that the ball of water had to be at a certain height so it could be seen from a distance and that meant it had to be a certain size. So, you look at the site and say, 'Well, this would not be big enough and this would be too big', and so you decide on the size by looking at trees and whatever else is around the place. You pace them out and measure them and that gives you a scale to begin with. You then draw to that scale on paper and draw figures alongside it and that gives you a very quick assessment of what scale it ought to be.'

'Having the water in the air like that, a long way above the footpath, I used the contours of the site to create a pool just above the highest contour. Then by setting it off to one side a certain amount, I had the chance of repetition once again. The steps and the detail in the stonework repeats all the way down, but there is organic freedom in it, in that they are not all the same size and the pools shorten. It just grows in that fashion and the site dictates most of what happens.' (Johnson, 1996, p194-5)

From Hazel de Berg's oral history interview with Woodward in 1972:
'The design of El Alamein fountain, of course, some people think quite unusual and a little different to what has been done before, but really it's no more than just tackling a problem in a conventional Scandinavian design sense, to analyse the problem first and find the solution and . . . by going through it several times, the study of the site was a very important part of that, scale was important, cost was important, the need for it to be a civic work so it would last for a long time is very important, and the solution I came to eventually was that a large ball of water would be a very simple concept and would solve the problem of scale, would make the most use of water. . . In the effect it looks like a dandelion just because, I suppose, nature and technology seem to find the same way of coming to the same solution' (De Berg, 1972, p7111).
'The El Alamein fountain had to be fairly strictly controlled in what it did, because there was no existing equipment to make it do what I wanted it to do so I became involved in the need to study hydraulics, not in a very scientific form but to see what water did and how you control what the water does. I designed the nozzle and luckily, with the past experience of engineering, I was able to make up prototype nozzles, starting with very crude ones in the beginning and working on and refining them until they produced the form that I wanted with enough safety factor and flexibility, [so] they wouldn't be hard to keep that form even if it wasn't properly maintained (De Berg, 1972, p7111-2).

'Sound, yes, sound certainly is an important part of water, a part that one can work on. If you look at the El Alamein fountain you will see that the main sound contributing factor there is the weirs. The weirs are very secondary and must not dominate the main theme, but the water flows through the weirs in little channels, and those channels were shaped and reshaped , starting off with wood, then later into mild steel and finally cast in bronze, in form being made so that the water was controlled so that when it dropped that distance of 12 inches [30cm], it would strike the lower surface in a certain form that would penetrate, a narrow confined form that penetrated the level below and brought up bubbles and created a sound.

It might not be obvious to many people but approaching the fountain from some directions, some of the laneways, it is possible to hear the fountain first before seeing it, and this sound I have used since in other works as well' (De Berg, 1972, p7112).

From Carol Henty's interview with Woodward for the Bulletin magazine in 1978:
'For a year he worked with two other architects in Aalto's studio, being briefed by the master for about half an hour a day and developing Aalto's ideas into practical terms. 'It was planning, not creative work. But Aalto taught me how to think.' 'It was this early training in how to think which helped him on the El Alamein design. The problem was the site and his thinking went like this.

'On a busy corner, with swirling traffic and an awkward fall in the land, the fountain would have to be simple but strong to have any impact. The simplest shape he knew was a ball. Why not have a ball of water? And so that it could be seen from all angles through the traffic, and to cope with the uneven land, why not hoist it up on a stem? And to get a light, airy look - more water than hardware - Woodward arrived at the idea of the spokes and the nozzles. The dandelion took shape.
' 'Having won the competition, I then had the embarrassment of having to make it work,' he said. The real problem was the nozzles. No one was qualified to make them, so for two years Woodward designed and tested until he arrived at the 'sheeting' effect.

'When the day before the official opening came Woodward and his wife Margaret took their old friend, the sculptor Lyndon Dadswell, to see the first test.

'It was a Sunday night in November. They heard the rushing water, then, above the hoarding they saw it, alive and alight. Dadswell burst out: 'Oh Bob, I wish it was mine.'

Woodward says: 'You can know, of course, that it's going to work. But until you press the button you never know whether it will have that extra touch of magic.' (Henty, 1978, p54)

2012 Restoration:
The restored fountain was unveiled on July 28 2012. Residents joined Lor Mayor Clover Moore and the families of original architect Robert Woodward and manufacturer Eric Williams to see the monument switched back on. Restoration work began in February but SCC began consultation with Mr Woodward on plans for restoration five years ago. After his death in 2010, Council continued working with his family, including daughter Jane van Hagen. "The El Alamein Fountain was my father's first foungatin design as the result of a competition to exercise his design skills while working in 'bread-and-butter' post-war architecture" Mrs van Hagen said. "As such it provided an unexpected launch from architecture into an international career as a fountain designer". "Of his many completed fountain works, the El Alamein was one of his favourites.". Mr Williams' son Denis was also in attendance having craftted the replacement wands 51 years after his late father made the originals, making it very much a family affair (Pearson, 2012)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Eora nation - places of contact with the colonisers-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. Associations with Bungaree, Cadigal man-
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities Creating a gentleman's estate-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and gardens of domestic accommodation-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Providing a venue for significant events-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from suburban lots to public gardens-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing suburbia-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing civic infrastructure and amenity-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in urban settings-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Beautifying towns and villages-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Memorialising the defenders-
7. Governing-Governing Defence-Activities associated with defending places from hostile takeover and occupation Involvement with the Second World War-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - parks and open spaces-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscape of Remembrance-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - 20th century post WW2-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - mid 20th century modernism-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Designing fountains-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Going to the park-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Alexander Sloane, Riverina pastoralist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Cadigal clan of the Eora nation-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Robert Woodward, fountain designer and architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The El Alamein Memorial Fountain is of State historical heritage significance as a war memorial to the battles fought by Australian soldiers near the Egyptian town of El Alamein which helped turn the course of World War II towards victory for the Allies. The Australians paid a fearful price for their involvement, suffering almost 6,000 casualties between July and November 1942.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The El Alamein Memorial Fountain is of State significance for its historical associations with the Australian soldiers of the 9th Division who fought near the Egyptian town of El Alamein in two battles which helped turn the course of World War II. It is also of State significance for its associations with its designer Bob Woodward, a World War II veteran whose career as a fountain designer was consequently reoriented into national and international prominence largely because of its popular and critical success.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The El Alamein Memorial Fountain is of State aesthetic significance as a spectacular fountain and outstanding work of modernist design in water which has been copied all over the world. It was described by architectural historian Max Freeland as 'a splendid sculpture in water. Its ephemeral ever-changing ever-remaining lightness dances tantalizingly in the sunshine or turns the reflections of gaudy neon lights into jewels at night. Its poetry was a sculptural breakthrough not only in Australia but in the world' (Freeland, 1967, p313). Throughout the decades of the 1960s and 1970s it was an icon of Sydney, rivalling the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House for the frequency with which it was represented in tourism imagery. Described as 'an important technological innovation in fountain design' ((Keys Young, c1997, p29), the NSW chapter of the Institute of Architects created a new design category for it, the "Civic Design Award" of which it became the inaugural winner in 1964.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The El Alamein Memorial Fountain is of State significance for its rarity as a war memorial in NSW which commemorates a battle rather than the loss of individual members of the armed forces. It is also unusual because its beauty as a fountain has historically almost overwhelmed its solemn function as a war memorial.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The El Alamein Memorial Fountain is of State significance as an example of internationally outstanding fountain design and representative of excellence in Australian modernist design of the mid twentieth century.
Integrity/Intactness: Intact
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions SCHEDULE C
a) All Standard Exemptions.

b) All refurbishment works on the El Alamein Fountain as described in the report by Sydney Artefacts Conservation, Specifications for the Restoration of El Alamein Fountain, Kings Cross, 2010.

c) Use of the place for public gatherings and memorial services.

d) Activities associated with the use, maintenance and repair of the El Alamein Memorial Fountain that do not impact materially on the significance of the fountain and excluding any new development. This exemption includes works on pumps, pipes and electrical installation in the underground plant space beneath the fountain.

e) All maintenance of the existing landscaping, including pruning and removal of diseased trees, maintenance of fencing and pathways, and planting of new vegetation where this does not obstruct sight lines to and from the fountain.

f) All maintenance of the existing roadway and associated technologies including traffic signals, where this does not obstruct sight lines to and from the fountain.

g) Maintenance or removal of intrusive urban elements such as sculptures, cafe hoardings, cafe furniture, telephone booths, bus shelters, light poles and signage where this does not impact negatively upon sight lines to and from the fountain.

h) All temporary and permanent signage that is consistent with a Conservation Management Plan for the site and does not obstruct sight lines to and from the fountain.

i) Temporary structures (including banners, market stalls, portable lavatories and food services) associated with special events to be erected where they have no adverse impact on the fabric of the fountain.
Jan 14 2011

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0184714 Jan 11 243
Within a conservation area on an LEPFitzroyGardens including El Alamein Fountain    
Royal Australian Institute of Architects register  08 Apr 94   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAustralian Institute of Landscape Architects2010Profile on Robert Woodward View detail
WrittenCarol Henty1978'Bob Woodward, an artist of the first water'
WrittenCity of Sydney2010City of Sydney - History of Parks - Fitzroy Gardens View detail
WrittenHazel De Berg1972Oral history interview recorded with Robert Woodward, 22 March 1972.
WrittenHeath, Tom1962'Three Fountains, Architecture Australia March 1962
WrittenJohn Oultram Heritage & Design2010"Fitzroy Gardens & Lawrence Hargrave Reserve Heritage Assessment" for Hill Thallis
WrittenJohnson, Paul-Alan and Susan Lorne-Johnson1996 Robert Woodward, transcription of oral history interview, ' Architects of the Middle Third'
WrittenJoy Hughes2002MacLeay, Alexander (and sons) entry in the 'Oxford Companion to Australian Gardens'
WrittenMax Freeland1968Architecture in Australia
WrittenPearson, Matt2012'Kings Cross: Fountain Springs to Life - restoration work a family affair'
WrittenPotts, Rosemary2010“The Little Mouse That Roared', in Branch Cuttings, newsletter issue # , View detail
WrittenWise, Laura2013'Everything old is new again - case studies in restoring and adapting Sydney's modernist architecture'

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5061189
File number: H09/02243


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