A monumental move
06 Sep 2018
A Clayton monument honouring soldiers who served in armed conflict has found a new home as part of a special memorial space being created under the new elevated rail.
After removing it from its old location last week, a construction team has taken on the painstaking task of putting the monument back together again, piece by piece.
The monument, known as a cenotaph will soon form the centrepiece of a new memorial space, part of the 22.5 hectare linear park being created by the Caulfield to Dandenong project.
Purpose-designed for events and ceremonies such as Remembrance Day, the space was designed in conjunction with the Clayton RSL, including Secretary John Saunders and committee member Ann Coram.
Previously, Clayton’s memorial services have been held a cramped location outside a local hall.
According to Ann, the old space was becoming increasingly impractical, especially for veterans of advancing years forced to navigate garden beds and uneven ground.
“There’s no light, and everything is blocked by the big trees.It’s a lovely area, but for the Dawn Service, its claustrophobic, and you’ve got trip and fall issues,” she said.
Adds John: “our guest speaker needs a torch, another one of our guys, when he reads the lord’s prayer, has a miners’ light on”.
In stark contrast, the new memorial space will be well-lit and feature wheelchair-friendly paths, paving, and parking, along with an open grassed area to accommodate large gatherings.
John and Ann have been driving forces behind the concept from the very beginning. From power provision to base-lighting for flag poles, they have provided a wealth of practical guidance to designers.
Bordering a grassed lawn on either side of the cenotaph will be a series of plaques replicating those which honoured Clayton soldiers who served during World War One.
The plaques were part of Clayton’s original avenue of honour, sitting below a row of Portuguese oaks which were all but lost during the 1940s to make way for an expanding shopping strip.
Now, one hundred years after World War One, seedlings grown from those original oaks and will soon be planted back into the new memorial space, paying homage to the Avenue of Honour.
Year round the space will be a ‘reflective garden’ where people from all backgrounds and walks of life can sit, reflect and remember, says John.
“People have special days and special people they want to remember, and this gives them space to do that,” he says, adding that the new space will also be far more visible to passers-by.
“The double benefit is that people will see that this is the place to come. They’ll drive past or walk past with their dog, and know they can just stop there.”
General Manager Gary Molloy says the Clayton RSL is already noticing a difference now that the rail line is elevated.
“The railway line, believe it or not, was like the great wall of China. Even now, we are seeing people coming across to the RSL from the other side who haven’t been here for 30 years. Now they can just come across.”
Nine level crossings have already been removed by the Caulfield to Dandenong Project, which has also opened five new stations this year.
About the Clayton Cenotaph
Dedicated in January 1999, the front inscription reads:
This cenotaph has been erected by a grateful community to honour the memory of all who served our nation during the many armed conflicts of this century. We especially remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice.
Lest we forget
Additional plaques read:
WORLD WAR 1 1914 - 1918
WORLD WAR 2 1939 - 1945
BOER WAR 1899 - 1902
UNITED NATIONS PEACEKEEPING FORCES 1947 - 1999
VIETNAM 1962 - 1973
MALAYA BORNEO 1948 - 1960
KOREA 1950 - 1953