As I meandered through the WW2 wing down at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra recently, I happened upon a display board showing part of the city of Sydney with lights indicating assorted facilities available towards the end of the war. See that large light, the one in Hyde Park. That fascinated me!
Upon my return, I did some research, and some stepping out within the park, and bingo! I learnt about the existence of The British Centre from June 1945 until November 1947.
It was a large, two storey unsophisticated building housing a wonderfully sprung dance floor, run for the sustenance of the many British troops of the Pacific Fleet transiting through Sydney at the end of the war. There is not a skerrick of informaton available about it in Hyde Park now: not a plaque. Nothing. The building itself was sold for one pound and transported piece by piece up to the northern suburb of Hornsby where it was transformed into their maternity wing. It is still protected by the two English stone lions that guarded its entrance from College Street.
Nowadays, the section of Hyde Park which housed The British Centre is an expanse of lawn, and the Sandringham Gardens, which were opened in 1954 by QEII. Jim showed the gates to the gardens in his post yesterday, which jiggled my faltering memory. The opening photograph for this post is the fountain at the centre of the gardens, and the photographs adjacent here, show the gardens themself.