With heads bowed in silence, the crowd gathered at Melbourne’s Croydon War Memorial on Remembrance Day was not only honouring the past, but also marking a new future.
For the first time in recent history, locals were able to commemorate the day at the war memorial, after it was relocated from the dangerous and congested Coolstore Road roundabout to its new home at James N Stevens Memorial Lawn, in Croydon’s Civic Square.
Increased traffic over the years had made it increasingly difficult for Croydon RSL to hold services at the memorial. But with the roundabout set to be removed as part of building Croydon’s new transport hub, the Coolstore Road team was able to work with the RSL and Maroondah City Council to successfully relocate the memorial to its quieter and more accessible location.
Constructed in 1919 in the form of a drinking fountain, the memorial was funded by the community to honour enlisted soldiers from the district and continues to commemorate locals who have served in various conflicts. Its new location at Civic Square now provides a safe environment to conduct services and a quiet place for the community to reflect and remember those who have served.
Croydon RSL Acting President John Baade said the move would allow for greater community participation in commemorative services.
“Being at the centre of the roundabout, while it was iconic for Croydon, it did present a lot of risk for when we held memorial services,” he said. “With the new location, we believe we can get greater community involvement.”
Baade said the Level Crossing Removal Project had approached the relocation process with “a lot of respect and honour”.
“And when there is thought given to a project such as this, it really honours the sentiment of the memorial, that it is for the people who have sacrificed for the nation,” he said.
“Feedback from all the RSL members has been so positive. And it’s not only the feedback from the (RSL) members, but feedback from the community who are not members has been fantastic.
“The new location is brilliant – it just puts a smile on my face.”
World War II veteran and former Croydon RSL president Neil Gryst echoed the sentiments.
The 100-year-old has been attending commemorative services in Croydon for more than 50 years and said while the memorial had “stood the test of time”, its new home would make the memorial more accessible for all members of the community.
“This area here is much nicer. I think they have done a brilliant job,” he said.
Croydon Level Crossing Removal Project Manager Damien Bergstrum said the relocation had required detailed planning, working closely with heritage specialists and expert stone masons to safely lift out the memorial and reassemble it without damaging the 104-year-old granite.
“The relocation of the war memorial at Croydon is a reminder that the Coolstore Road level crossing removal project is not just another level crossing removal,” he said.
“We are really creating a new transport hub and making sure that the way that transport is undertaken in the local area is done in a safer way going forward, and that’s extended to the war memorial.”
The Croydon Transport Hub will feature a rail bridge and new Croydon Station, a 14-bay bus interchange and new road connections under the bridge to link the town centre and create safer options for pedestrians and vehicles to cross the rail line.