Our say | Historic city shouldn’t always live in the past

TWO stories this week neatly encapsulate the challenges and opportunities facing Bathurst as a growing, modern city known for its history and heritage.

And what the stories have in common is a willingness to change and adapt without losing what was so special in the first place.

The first story is the decision by those behind the restoration of the Cathedral of St Michael and St John to move the entrance for the CBD icon.

Passers-by have grown used to seeing scaffolding around the cathedral as the $6.5m restoration work continues, but some in the community might be surprised to hear that a change as significant as shifting the entrance is planned for the building.

As was explained this week, the new entrance (which will be on the car park side) will give parishioners and those at the cathedral for weddings and funerals more room to gather inside and outside.

That’s sensible: as the restoration continues, those behind the works have seen an opportunity to make this beautiful building a little more friendly for those who use it. Rather than feeling constrained, they are happy to improve.

The second story was the addition of a Tesla electric car recharge station at Abercombie House.

At first glance, this historic home might seem like an incongruous place to have such a modern accroutement. But its owner, Christopher Morgan, thinks otherwise.

“We recognise that the success of heritage tourism for us, and for all heritage properties, relies on the ability of these properties to preserve and respect the past while at the same time as embracing the new,” he said this week.

Mr Morgan recognises, as do many others, that Bathurst does not need to be frightened of change as the city, and the world around it, develops.

Bathurst’s history will always draw visitors, but those visitors want to find nice cafes, modern accommodation, fancy restaurants and, perhaps in the future, electric car recharge stations when they arrive here.

In the debate about a modern home going up in historic Piper Street last month, councillor Monica Morse said Bathurst was rightly proud of its architecture from the past, but it was time to start talking about the architecture of the present.

Bathurst should always celebrate its past, but it should take care not to perpetually live in it.