stories, photos, anecdotes….. sharing the past
One of the focal points for pedestrians, Chamberlain Square, is a unique place of interest to local residents and tourists. Featuring a larger than life statue of Sir Henry Parkes, as well as water features, trees and seating, it is a place to find temporary relaxation on the main street of Parkes. It is a refuge to workers and a signpost to potential investors of Parkes that the shire is both proud of its past and yet progressive in its outlook.
The area is today focused towards pedestrians although this was not always the case. To achieve the vista that is enjoyed today, substantial planning and development was required. Clarinda Street originally had a ‘slip lane’ into Welcome Street. This was to be closed and the pedestrian area extended. It was decided that to mark the 150th anniversary of Local Government in Parkes, that a special statue of Sir Henry Parkes would be erected.
Chamberlain Square was so called during 1938 in recognition of the British Prime Minister and his quest for peace. In recent years there has been a suggestion from prominent town historian, Ian Chambers, that Chamberlain Square be renamed to honour former Mayor, the late Robert Wilson OAM. Part of the reasoning is due to the fact that retrospectively, many historians consider Neville Chamberlain’s meeting with Hitler a failure. Less than a year after Chamberlain returned from the Munich conference and proudly proclaimed “Peace for our time” Hitler’s Germany had invaded Poland and plunged the world into a second world war. Conversely, Robert Wilson was a popular mayor who spent more than three decades giving outstanding service to the community. (Source: Parkes Champion Post October 15, 2012)
Chamberlain Square was used as the focal point for civic receptions of international teams France National Rugby League team and New Zealand Kiwis Rugby League team in 1955 and 1963 respectively. Sources: Parkes Champion Post Thursday 21 July, 1955 and Parkes Champion Post Wednesday 15 May, 1963
Parkes Centenary October 1983 gathering at Chamberlain Square. Photograph courtesy of the Jim Buckley Collection