ST PAULS ANGLICAN CHURCH, MAITLAND
Mr FRANK TERENZINI
(Maitland) [6.21 p.m.]: On 13 July 2008 I had the pleasure of attending the sesquicentenary celebrations for the St Pauls Church at Maitland. St Pauls Church is more than a church; it is a true community icon in our city of Maitland. Nestled in amongst the tall, leafy sweeping gums in Maitland Park, this church is treasured by the community. Built in 1858, it has served the community well. As it is situated in Maitland Park, it has also endured its share of the bad times—by this I mean it has been underwater several times because of floods. Maitland has had 200 flood events in the past 200 years or so, and St Pauls has seen most of them. In fact, when one sits in the church, one can see the white marker line situated about four meters above ground level—a constant reminder to all parishioners and visitors of past tragedies. Nevertheless, it has survived and survived well.
St Pauls Church is no ordinary church. In 1888 a church bell tower was erected, only one of two in the Southern Hemisphere. The tower was to commemorate the centenary of the colony, and it still stands today. In fact, it houses the only steel bells in the Southern Hemisphere. Sine their installation, the sound of those bells have sounded and still sound throughout the valley on special occasions. Whether it is on Australia Day, Anzac Day, a wedding or any other special occasion, we have the great pleasure of hearing the sound of these unique church bells—a real treasure and a very unique heritage in our community.
On 10 February 2009 I attended the church again to present a cheque to parishioners Jim and Irene Hemsworth in the amount of $2,300 towards a new set of bell ropes. The ropes are rare and have to be imported from Great Britain. The current ropes have been in use for approximately 30 years and are showing signs of wear. It is very important that we obtain these new ropes so that the whole community can continue to hear the great sound of the St Pauls Church bells. The bells make a truly amazing sound throughout the city. Throughout their lives residents have become used to the bells sounding all the time. They are a part of our way of life and it is very important that the bells be maintained. I thank Premier Nathan Rees for making funds available. I thank him and the Government for taking an interest in our cultural and historic institutions. They are very valuable to our community. In fact, iconic buildings that house such historic items serve to bind a community together. The health and wellbeing of a community is very much promoted and maintained by keeping alive our history—in this case, 150 years of history. The sound of these bells serves to remind us of this history.
Of course, church bells such as these are not heard if there are no trained bell ringers. I therefore wish to thank Belinda Vardy, team captain of the group of bell ringers at St Paul's. Bell ringing is an art and we appreciate that it takes a great deal of coordination and teamwork between the six bell ringers. I thank Belinda for her continued work in training members of the community in this task. This group is non-denominational and, of course, new members are always welcome. This is another example of the unique and special nature of the Maitland region, which is steeped in history and tradition—a city built by hardworking people with enormous community spirit. This spirit has been the secret to our survival and our many years of growth. The St Pauls Church, and its bell tower with these unique bells, is an excellent illustration of a city proud of its history and tradition. It has been my privilege to speak about another one of the many heritage items in Maitland in a long-standing institution.