Col Draper was born in Bangalow around the middle of the last century and has seen some things change and some things just stay the same.
As a Bangalow primary school student he took the train to Mullum for high school. ‘Everybody loved going down to the Bangalow pool in the summers of the 50s and 60s. Sure, we all got ear infections, but that was part of it.
‘I left Bangalow in about 1966 because I thought this town was too quiet,’ said Col. ‘I came back about 15 years later because I realised this was the right place to be.
‘There is no more dairying and very few pigs these days,’ he said. ‘Now it’s all macadamias and “lifestyle”.’
A significant development located adjacent to the A&I Hall on Station Street – now open for public comment – gives Col pause to reflect on the street’s past.
Station Street hasn’t changed much since day dot, he said. ‘The Methodist Church is the same. It blew down in about 1913; they basically rebuilt it.
‘The RSL hall [where Col volunteers] has been here 50 years. Almost everything is untouched: The Masonic Hall has had a lean for the last 90 years; it was built in 1922 and developed a lean by 1925 and has been the same ever since.
‘The A&I Hall was the Regal Picture Theatre when I was a boy. It was pretty run down but a lot of the local people got together and fixed it up and we are all very proud of it now.’
And it’s the A&I Hall’s use as a public space that concerns Col, with the proposed development. ‘If this new development goes ahead, possible noise complaints could really, really hurt the A&I Hall.’
As for the history of the existing house at 9 Station Street, he said it belonged to Chester Snow. ‘The Snow family goes way back: Chester’s father, JG, was a Byron Shire councillor for 20-odd years. Chester himself went off to the first war and won a military medal. He came back and got married in about 1920 and that’s when they moved into the house and he had his children there.
‘When the second war started he enlisted again. He lived in that house until the early 80s. When he passed on his daughter Marge Hall took it over.
‘Chester was a lovely chap. I remember his roses and he had a sundial, the only one I have seen in this area. Chester and his brother Harry had the shop across the road, which is now called Bangalow Hardware. They ran it as a carpentry business.’
Concerned for new development
Apart from what Col sees as the historical value of the property, he has concern for the back alley that is shared with the rear end of the church, the RSL, the primary school and the entry to the bottle shop. Col said the alley for the proposed new development will cause congestion and safety issues, especially during the school students’ arrival and departure hours. ‘That is the major concern: that children will be going backwards and forwards morning and afternoon and there will be issues of safety. That is just not a big enough area to be able to handle all the extra traffic.’