Boer War Memorial statue to be replaced

Mayor Cr Des Hudson standing in front of the Boer War Memorial Statue in Sturt Street with Town Hall in the background.

Mayor Cr Des Hudson standing in front of the Boer War Memorial Statue in Sturt Street.

The Boer War Memorial statue that has stood proudly in Sturt Street for 117 years will need to be replaced.

Comprehensive assessment of the memorial, officially opened on 1 November 1906, revealed its foundations are beyond repair and will require a full replacement.

The Boer War Memorial commemorates the people from Ballarat who served in the Boer War from 1899 to 1902 and is listed on the Victorian War Heritage Inventory.

The statue is the work of successful and innovative sculptor James White and depicts a soldier on horseback rescuing a fellow soldier, is about three-quarter life size and stands on a considerable plinth in the Sturt Street Gardens.

It was last removed for restoration in 1984, while some remedial works were also carried out on site in 2020.

Specialised radiographic surveys and videoscope investigations have revealed extensive and severe corrosion in critical locations and it has been deemed the statue is beyond repair.

Often mistaken for being made of bronze, the imposing sculpture is constructed from beaten copper with a hessian and plaster core. This form of work is less resilient than bronze work. 

Other similar works completed by James White installed in sites across Australia have deteriorated in a similar fashion and have been replaced with like-for-like in bronze.

The current memorial will be offered to the estate of James White when it is deaccessioned.

It will be replaced by a permanent bronze statue, appearing almost identical to the original.

City of Ballarat Mayor, Cr Des Hudson said the replacement could not be avoided and was necessary to ensure the statue remained in place for future generations.

“The memorial, which is a much-photographed homage, has pride of place in the heart of Sturt Street and is of historical and aesthetic significance to Ballarat,” he said.

“Unfortunately, further restoration of the memorial was not possible as it was only going to continue degrading internally.

“It is vital that the replacement statue can be constructed to as similar likeness as possible to ensure it remains an integral monument in the heart of Ballarat.

“Bravery and mateship are beautifully captured in the memorial and these are values that we continue to cherish.”

The $285,000 project is supported by a $50,000 grant from the State Government’s Restoring Community War Memorials and Avenues of Honour grant program.

The City of Ballarat has released tender documents seeking quotations for the removal of the current work and deaccession of the original to create and install a full like-for-like replacement at the original site in the 200s block of Sturt Street, between Lydiard and Armstrong streets.

Tender applications close on 31 January, 2024 and the City of Ballarat anticipates the successful artist will be awarded in March.

Further timeline details will be provided upon the awarding of the tender.