Light Horse Park

The Lions Club of the City of Liverpool, District 201N2, New South Wales, completed in November, 1988 and handed over to The City of Liverpool the first stage of a bold plan to transform six hectares of unsightly wasteland and garbage tip and 1.5 kilometres of unusable river bank into a magnificent riverside passive recreation area and childrens’ playground.

The area, now known as “Lighthorse Park” stretches for 1.5 Kilometres along the western bank of the Georges River in the heart of The City of Liverpool; from the remains of the convict built sandstone wharves and weir, remnants of the days of sail; past the pylons of the long gone railway bridge which carried the rail link from Liverpool to the Holsworthy Army Camp prior to and during the Second World War. These pylons now support the footbridge constructed by The School of Military Engineering, Moorebank as part of the overall plan. The massive pylons of the new concrete road bridge have long since replaced the old timber bridge which carried the First Lighthorsemen on their departure for the conflicts of the Great war of 1914-1918.

A past Member of the Club, John Cornish, some years prior donated to the Club a substantial amount to be used for the establishment of a park in Liverpool. Other Club commitments at the time prevented the immediate start of the project.

In 1983, The Mayor of The City, Alderman Noel Short, conducted an economic Seminar in the Liverpool Town Hall and the representatives of The Department of Employment addressed the gathering re the availability of Government funding available through the then Community Employment Programme commonly known as C.E.P..

The Club invited the Department of Employment representatives to a Dinner Meeting as Guest Speakers and from there the “Grand Plan” started to evolve.

Liverpool Lion Barry Tonks, a member of the Royal Australian Air Force and ex member of The Lions Club of Canberra-Kambah knew  of a number of Parks and Playgrounds that had recently been completed by The National Capital Development Commission. Lion Barry convinced the Club Members that planning of the scheme should not be finalised until the magnificent new facilities in Canberra had been inspected.

 Lion John Sim of our Club, an Architect by profession, had at the time, a mini-bus  ideally suited for transporting nine of the most well-behaved and respected non-drinking and non-smoking Lions to The National Capital.

The worthy group set off from Liverpool on a beautiful Friday evening and upon arrival in Canberra, the true spirit of Lionism came to the fore with Kambah Lions proving to be magnificent hosts and guides during a wonderful weekend of Lions fellowship.

The inspection of the Canberra facilities, in particular the Kambah Playground, really set the adrenalin flowing in the mind of the Club’s architectural designer, Lion John Sim, and all those Members present. The plan of the Liverpool “Playground” started to formulate. After John Sim and Bob Grimson attended many seminars and meetings the final design was prepared and submitted to The Liverpool Council for approval. The area of the proposed park is within a 1 in 100 year flood plain and the views of Hydraulic Consultants were necessary before Council gave its final blessing to the plan.

The plan envisages lazy pathways meandering beside the river through grassed play and picnic areas where one can stop and rest at one of the many shelter and BBQ areas, or just take in the natural beauty of the Georges River and the lush greenery on its eastern banks.

There are several grassed earth mounds between which there will ultimately be such items of playground equipment as Tarzan Swings, Suspension Bridges, Wave Slides and Flying Foxes.

In 1983 the Club applied for a grant under the C.E.P. programme. This grant was approved in March, 1984 and on the 1st April, 1984 the Club Members gathered for the first “Working Bee”. Since that time Club Members have reported in excess of 8,000 hours with some Members working continuously every second Sunday right up to the completion of the project.

Two further C.E.P. grants were approved in July, 1985 and February, 1986 bringing the total government funding to the Lions Club to $570,000-00.

In addition, the Liverpool City Council contributed $11,000-00 in addition to a further C.E.P. grant  of $46,000-00 which they allocated to this project all of which was administered by our Lions Club.

The Liverpool Lions Club raised and contributed $8,000-00 in cash.

The project has been an outstanding example of Lions working hand in hand with the Community – a real “Community effort”. Other community organisations including The Leo Club of The City of Liverpool, The Rotary Club of Liverpool West, Liverpool City Council, The Bi-centennial Community Committee, local Primary and High Schools, local Business Houses along with the Army School of Military Engineering and 21 Supply Division at Moorebank were involved and donations of materials and labour were estimated to be worth in excess of $300,000-00.

A grand total of $924,000-00 of an estimated total project cost, at the beginning of $1,250,000-00.

Added to this is approximately 11,000 hours of manpower made available from the Department of Corrective Services under the Community Service Order Scheme.

To raise the park above flood levels, Apprentices from the Army School of Military Engineering transported almost half of the 60,000 cubic metres of filling required on the site, placed it in position and carried out the necessary compacting and grading.  21 Supply Division assisted by grading and reshaping the large area between the road bridge and the weir.  A real demonstration of the links and co-operation that has existed between the Liverpool Lions and the Army for many years.

The river bank has been completely reshaped and grassed for 1.5 kilometres upstream from the weir.

The overall management and administration of all grants and site work  was principally undertaken and supervised by P.D.G. Lion Bob Grimson ably assisted by the late Graham Chamberlain, and many others including Lions Louis Jacquot, Andy Mellon, John Sim, Roy Scott, Noel Coward, Kevin Bryant, Kevin Duncliffe, Graham Field, Brad Kluewer, Lance Raines and David Fagan. Lion Pat Kennedy, in true Lions spirit responded to a need at one stage and worked full time for 4 months both hands on and in a supervisory capacity.

Liverpool Lions Club employed an average of 15 persons full time for almost 2 years during the period of the project and found it necessary to purchase such things as trucks, tractors, trailers and a front end loader to try to make the project as efficient as possible.

A condition of the C.E.P. scheme was that 65% of all grants was to be utilised for employment and labour costs leaving only 35% for materials, plant and equipment, tools, repairs and maintenance.

There was no administration costs attached to the project and The Lions Club did not request, expect or receive any remuneration.

Full time employment under the C.E.P. Scheme ceased in January, 1987. From that time until the official handing over of the park to The Liverpool City Council, the park has been maintained by the Club at it’s own expense.

The park also contains free electric BBQ’s, shelter sheds, seats, jogging track (1.2Kms) and a comprehensive playground.

Following is a pictorial of events from the “Turning of the First Sod” to the time of handing over to The City of Liverpool, a day of many events including the re-enactment of the “Landing of Governor Macquarie”. This day of events at Lighthorse Park marked the commencement of “Heritage Week” of The City of Liverpool in our country’s Bicentennial Year.

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