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3 - Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Giving workmen their rightful place
Alan Foskett in his study on Anzac Park, Campbell. Mr Foskett is about to publish a book about the
building of Canberra.
Photo: Matt Bedford
Their contribution to building
Canberra after World War II was
immense, but their place in the
city s history has been minimal.
A modest piece of signage marks
where they were and what they
achieved. But Canberra historian
Alan Foskett believes the workmen
who built the heart of the nation s
capital deserve more.
This weekend he will launch
They Came to Build Canberra: The
Story of the Turner Workmen's
Hostel -- the People, the Buildings
and the Land 1946 to 2014.
"I thought that the only way I can
preserve the legacy of those hostels
and the role that the men played
was to write a book, which would
be a lasting legacy of the hostels,
Mr Foskett said.
"The thing that really got me
going on this was the demolition of
McGregor Hall in 2010, he said.
McGregor Hall was the last
remnant of the Turner Workmen s
Hostel, the last of the seven
workmen s hostels that were built
in Canberra after World War II.
"They were built to
accommodate mostly single men,
from all over the world and all over
Australia who came here and
helped get the building industry and
the building of Canberra going,
Mr Foskett said.
The hostels were scattered across
Canberra and included two at
Capital Hill, one near the railway
station in Kingston, another at the
east basin of Lake Burley Griffin
with others at Ainslie, Fairbairn and
The Turner hostel closed in 1952
and fire tore through it the
following year. But part of it
remained -- McGregor Hall. It
would be used by various groups
over the years and became a
powerful link to the past. That link
was severed in 2010 when it was
demolished by the ACT
"It had this incredible history,
Mr Foskett said.
Not only the use of the site as a
hostel, but all the subsequent uses
of the buildings and the site itself.
"It is just one of those
extraordinary bits of urban history
where from 1946 until today there
had been these different uses of the
building and the site, starting off
with the hostel and the role that they
There were 360 men
accommodated at Turner in seven
blocks or pavilions from 1949 to
1952, and they gave the building
industry in Canberra impetus after
the war, Mr Foskett said.
They Came to Build
Canberra: The Story of the
Turner Workmen's Hostel -- the
People, the Buildings and the
Land 1946 to 2014 by Alan
Foskett will be launched on ABC
666 by presenter Alex Sloan at
the Hughes Community Centre
on Sunday at 2pm.
All go on $610m public private partnership light rail project
The ACT government has approved
the business case for the first stage
of Canberra s light rail network,
Minister Simon Corbell told
more than 300 local, national and
international representatives at an
industry briefing on Monday that
the government would begin the
expression of interest process on
Friday, October 31.
"The first stage of Canberra s
light rail network will be delivered
as a public private partnership,
delivering cost certainty and
minimising risk to the ACT
government," Mr Corbell said.
"The cost of the project will be
determined by a competitive market
process, however, the estimated
capital cost of the project is
$610 million plus a $173 million
This estimate is consistent with
the previous estimate of
$614 million, adjusted for
escalation and risk, Mr Corbell
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