School sell-off will put our heritage in danger

HERITAGE VALUE: Ipswich Genealogical Society secretary Audrey Dillon and Ipswich Historical Society president Ian Wilson fear the loss of historical records and buildings if the State Government goes ahead with the sale of the former Blackstone State School.
HERITAGE VALUE: Ipswich Genealogical Society secretary Audrey Dillon and Ipswich Historical Society president Ian Wilson fear the loss of historical records and buildings if the State Government goes ahead with the sale of the former Blackstone State School. Rob Williams

INVALUABLE historical records of Ipswich will be without a home if the State Government goes ahead with the disposal of the former Blackstone State School.

The property's tenants - Ipswich Genealogical Society, Ipswich Historical Society and the Naval Association - also fear that heritage buildings on the site will be vandalised or demolished as a result of the Education Department's "disposal" strategy, which could leave them empty until sold.

Tenants have been ordered by the department to vacate the buildings by January 10, 2013 and the government shows no signs of backing down on its decision to sell the former school.

Infrastructure operations executive director Vince White said Education Queensland was progressing with the disposal of the site in accordance with "whole of government land policies".

"Notice to vacate letters were provided to the groups occupying the former Blackstone State School in August 2012," Mr White said.

"This was sufficient notice to enable these groups to make other accommodation arrangements.

"All government properties are maintained until sold. Security patrols will continue."

Ipswich Genealogical Society secretary Audrey Dillon said the building they were being forced to leave was perfect to store records and research that dated from the beginning of Queensland, particularly of the Ipswich district.

The society - the oldest of its kind in Queensland - has had to move its records five times since it was established in 1977.

"Most of all, we'd like to stay at Blackstone. It's perfect - you couldn't get better," Ms Dillon said.

Ipswich Historical Society vice president Hugh Taylor has been exploring options to buy the $500,000 property.

"This battle to save the ex-Blackstone school site is not about making a home for community groups," Mr Taylor said. "It is really about preserving and protecting our heritage.

"We need a heritage centre; that's my whole concept for this place."

Topics:  blackstone state school education department ipswich genealogical society ipswich historical society naval association

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