The Saga of 94 Merri St

The Saga of 94 Merri St is the landmark report released by Warrnambool Planning and Heritage Group (WP&H) in August 2012 that looked at the 10 year saga of a state heritage listed property in Warrnambool that in the end was demolished through neglect.  The WP&H Group could see that the Fletcher Jones site was also in danger of 'demolition by neglect' and sought to draw the attention of the Warrnambool City Council and of Heritage Victoria by highlighting what we could learn from this saga and making recommendations drawn from those lessons.  

The report did draw the attention of both the Warrnambool City Council (WCC) and of Heritage Victoria (HV).  The WCC hosted a public launch of the report and discussed its findings and recommendations in the Council offices and chambers.  The WP&H group continued to send letters, emails, photos and even drone footage of the deterioration of the site and of the Silver Ball to both the WCC and HV calling for action on the grounds of safety and the impending and almost certain loss of the most important conservation values of the site. Officers from HV, including the Acting Executive Director visited Warrnambool and the FJ site in 2013 after a fair bit of pestering from the WP&H Group!    

It became more and more apparent to WP&H Group that the current legislative framework means local councils can do absolutely nothing if they choose about monitoring the status of state heritage listed sites in their locality.  We also realised that HV lacks the resources and legislative framework for the monitoring and compliance needed to ensure heritage sites are not left to fall down by owners who do not or cannot care about them.  We realised having a sympathetic owner is key to ensuring heritage places and objects are cared for.  

The Warrnambool Planning and Heritage Group wants the city's council to do more to preserve the former Fletcher Jones factory and its Silver Ball.

The group will launch a report next week about the failed campaign to save the city's oldest house from demolition last year.The report will urge the council to survey the current condition of the Fletcher Jones site.

The group's president, Julie Eagles, says a more proactive approach to protecting heritage sites is needed.

"The negotiation and working with that private owner to provide incentives and assistance for them to be able to look after what we have determined is important to us, then that process needs to be a more proactive one than currently happens," she said.

She says the Silver Ball is too valuable to fall further into disrepair.

"It makes you know that you're in Warrnambool," she said."It has state heritage listing and we see that falling further into disrepair as well. It looks rusty, we certainly wouldn't like to see that disintegrate and not be there any more."

4th July ABC news.

Julie Eagles, co-author of the Saga of 94 Merri St Report that highlighted the danger of demolition by neglect of the FJ site.  Photo: Warrnambool Standard
Heritage Victoria's response to one of WP&H letters (the WP&H letter this replies to is below in the document link).  The window referred to was in fact just boarded up and not repaired.

Become a Part of the Fletcher Jones Story.

If you would like to share images, stories or anecdotes about Fletcher Jones, the man or the business, please contact the Project Coordinator, Julie Eagles, through this website or contact via the Save the Silver Ball and Fletcher’s Gardens Facebook Page.  

We'd also love your feedback about our website and your favourite stories.  You can also let us know if you think we've got anything wrong, misspelt or left out.