Friday, May 09, 2014

Lawrence Hargrave: Bronze plaque honoring aviation pioneer stolen

Police are investigating the theft of the bronze sculptural plaque off the 'Father of Flight' statue on Bald Hill at Stanwell Park. 

 It's yet not known when the 6 foot plaque depicting Australian pioneer of flight Lawrence Hargrave was stolen, but a crow bar was found beside the statue yesterday.

The statue was erected in the 1940s and reflects the achievements of Hargrave, who experimented with box kites on Stanwell Park beach early in the 20th century.

President of the Lawrence Hargrave Centre Rob Deacon says it would be worth thousands of dollars and will be difficult to replace.

Mr Deacon says it is disappointing.

'It's a monument to reflect the achievements of Lawrence Hargrave,' he said.

'That statue and that memorial is one of a few things that actually represents what he did and one of the few places that honours his name so it's very sad.'

Mr Deacon believes not much can be done to stop thieves targeting the 'Father of Flight' statue.

He says he doesn't want to see the statue fenced off.

'It's such a beautiful spot up there at the top of Bald Hill looking down over Wollongong,' he said.

'It's one the most beautiful spots in Australia so you'd hate to see that memorial with fences around it and somehow segregated from the public.

'I know there is lighting there, I mean short of a security guard at night, it's a very quiet and dark place so it's difficult to protect it.'

The name plaque below the sculptural park has been stolen twice before but never the bronze plaque of Hargrave.

Wollongong Council is responsible for replacing the bronze plaque.

A spokesman says the council is investigating and will have more information next week.