Stepping up in grand style

Camperdown Grandstand Restoration Committee members Mary and Peter Hay are thrilled with the structure’s restored balustrade which project builder Greg Johnstone meticulously installed. The grandstand is expected to be in use at Camperdown’s next race meeting in January next year.

CAMPERDOWN’S grandstand is beginning to echo the majesty of its early days, with its intricate balustrades restored and back in place.

Featuring on the grandstands five individual staircases and along the front railings of the 114 year-old grandstand, the cast iron balustrades return an element of grandeur.

Project builder Greg Johnstone (of GR and JA Johnstone) said the balustrade was made up of 152 individual panels.

“Most of the panels were sent to Colac and Warrnambool to be sandblasted and repainted, but there were about 25 that were broken and had to be replaced,” he said.

“They were sent to a Castlemaine foundry, along with a template of the pattern, and were recast.

“It’s been a huge challenge to refit them, but now that they’re in, they look great, it’s been worth it.”

Camperdown’s historic grandstand is edging closer to its former glory.

Mr Johnstone said the balustrades along each of the staircases also played a structural role in giving further strength to the whole grandstand.

“We put new reinforcement under the staircases as well, so the structure should be very solid and last the test of time,” he said.

Fascia boards underneath the front railings have also been meticulously replaced in the original style.

Work is now under way to repair flooring along the front of the grandstand and the tiered seating.

“The seating is actually in pretty good condition,” Mr Johnstone said.

“There’s only a few that need replacing, the rest just need a tidy up and repainting – it won’t take long.”

Camperdown Grandstand Restoration Committee secretary Mary Hay said people would be sitting in the grandstand, for the first time since it was closed in 2004, at the next Camperdown Cup meeting in January next year.

“It’s very exciting to think that after 14 years of continually applying for funding and completing restoration works phase by phase, that we’re nearly there,” she said.

“Now that the restored balustrade is in place, there’s no doubting how beautiful the grandstand is – it really is another icon for Camperdown to be very proud of.”

Mrs Hay said the grandstand could seat about 1200 people and thoughts were now turning towards opening celebrations.

“It’s a beautiful building in a beautiful setting and has so much history attached to it,” she said.

“We really hope the wider community embraces it and makes great use of it and encourage them to start thinking of events and functions to host there.”

The latest phase of works has been completed thanks to $380,000 of Heritage Victoria funding, with a further ‘variance’ budget of $165,000 and $50,000 from the Camperdown Grandstand Restoration Committee.

“We hope people understand that this just isn’t a grandstand ‘fix’, it is a total restoration,” Mrs Hay said.

“Expert engineers have been involved in drawing up the plans and Heritage Victoria has had to sign-off on every single aspect of the work, right down to the type of screws used.

“It’s been a huge undertaking, but seeing it now, I hope the community agrees that it’s all been totally worth it.”

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