The first grant from the $100,000 Our Stories Our Places heritage building conservation fund has been approved for Gaydon’s Buildings Childers, owned by local dentist Dr Brett Phillips.
Our Stories Our Places is a Bundaberg Regional Council initiative, announced as part of Council’s 2023-24 budget, to support private owners of eligible heritage and character places.
Under the program, Council will contribute 50% of the cost of the conservation works up to a maximum of $10,000 per project.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said the Bundaberg Region has many buildings that contribute to the heritage charm of the region’s streetscapes.
“Through the grant program, Council is committed to helping property owners with the upkeep of these beautiful buildings,” he said.
“Applications for funding will be accepted on an on-going basis until 31 May 2024, while funding remains available.
“I encourage heritage building owners to check their eligibility and reach out to Council to discuss proposed conservation works.”
Gaydon’s Buildings conservation work
The grant funding for Gaydon’s Buildings will contribute to the like-for-like replacement of two large windows on the upper level at the rear of the building, which owner Dr Brett Phillips uses to see patients in his dental practice.
“The windows as such have never been replaced, so the wood is starting to rot in places,” Brett said.
“Actually, there's even a crack in it from an earthquake.
“It was either that or the ghost, the resident ghost, but let's trust it was the earthquake.”
Brett explained that heritage building conservation repairs can take longer than conventional building work and replacement elements often require fine adjustment to fit into the building.
“It is more difficult because you can't just put in anything… you try to find the same sort of window,” he said.
“A lot of the skills are being lost so you've got to use the right people.
“But you know, that's the beauty, you can hide the place and pretend it's not a heritage building, or you try and emphasise what it is and try to live it up.
“But it's got to be functional to be able to keep it.
“Particularly in the surgery, it's got to be infection controlled, it's got to be all up-to-date and safe.”
Gaydon’s Buildings part of Childers historic character
Gaydon’s Buildings at 88-90 Churchill Street was established in 1894 and was originally the dental surgery and pharmacy of Thomas Gaydon.
In March 1902, a devastating fire destroyed most of the then timber-built buildings on the south side of Churchill Street.
The current masonry building, and seven other adjacent shops, were designed by prominent Bundaberg-based architect FH Faircloth to replace the premises lost in the fire.
In 1911, the building was extended to add the upper storey, with large windows installed for lighting Thomas Gaydon’s dental surgery that are the subject of the planned conservation work.
Brett is the fifth consecutive dentist to operate in the heritage-listed building, making it the oldest continuously operating dental surgery in Australia.
The building was further extended in 1927 when Thomas Gaydon added a photographic darkroom to the rear for processing photographs as an agent for Kodak.
Next to the dental surgery is the Old Pharmacy, a pharmaceutical museum run by the Isis Historical Society, which houses the historic contents of the pharmacy that operated on the site until 1982.
Brett is passionate about retaining the heritage character of Childers and has done considerable work in the 30 years he has occupied the building to preserve its historic features.
He has retained and displayed artefacts and keepsakes from the building’s previous occupants including an original chair Thomas Gaydon used in photographic studio portraits, which now sits beneath some of the historic photographs.
Brett has been involved with the Childers Chamber of Commerce and worked to generate support in the community about the need to look after the town’s heritage.
“We have the biggest percentage of heritage buildings listed in Australia,” he said.
“If we let it get wrecked, there's nothing left.
“At least this is a start, it's hopefully recognition from the Council, we're trying to do something, they're trying to help.
“If we can all work together a little bit, it makes it easier if we can work as a collective.”