Melba Gates restoration will honour Lilydale history

Phil Burton from Lilydale and District Historial Society, in front of the Melba Gates, holding historical books.

Lilydale’s Melba Park gates will undergo restoration works in November, ensuring Council’s most valuable heritage listed asset is protected for years to come.

Sitting in the heart of Lilydale, the stone wall was originally commissioned in 1927 by Dame Nellie Melba in honour of her father David Mitchell.

The wall was made from Cave Hill quarry stone but overtime has since suffered from wear and tear.

The wall is currently missing several pieces of stone and large cracks have started to form, causing water damage and structural issues.

Council’s restoration project aims to restore the famous stone wall back to its original condition while following strict heritage guidelines to ensure conservation of the asset.

Lilydale and District Historical Society Treasurer, Phillip Burton, speaks fondly of Melba and Mitchell, recalling their presence in Lilydale.

“It’s fantastic, because they’re a really big part of Lilydale’s history. David Mitchell was such an important man and Melba was the biggest celebrity you could imagine”, Phillip said.

“When we take kids around, we say, if you could bump into the number one superstar today – Taylor Swift is the one they normally come up with – imagine you could bump into her on the street.

And of course she would walk around the streets – she was part of Lilydale, she absolutely adored Lilydale and Coldstream”.

Phil Burton from the Lilydale and District Historical Society in front of the Melba Gates, holding historical books.

Phil Burton from the Lilydale and District Historical Society in front of the Melba Gates, holding historical books.

The wrought irons gates with the letters D and M as part of their design will be treated with a protective coating and painted to match original colour and the wall will be partially dismantled and rebuilt to match the original appearance.

A project control group will oversee each stage of the restoration and work closely with the tenderer, Meg Surmon, who has worked on restoration projects for four years with Millstone Pty Ltd.

Mayor Tony Stevenson said he was excited about the project, and that it’s important to look after the gates so the story of Melba could continue to be told.

“Melba was a great legend of her time and someone we can be really proud of”, Cr Stevenson said.

“Her father, David Mitchell was equally significant to the area and is responsible for some incredible architecture, including the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.

“Mitchell and Melba contributed a great deal to our local economy, so as a community, we owe them a lot.”

The restorations are expected to take about a month to complete and once finished, will complement the area and the Melba collection at the museum.

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