Save historic D-Division Pentridge before it disappears
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From: Pentridge Community Action Group.
Future Estate, developer of the southern part of Pentridge, has put historic bluestone D-Division up for sale. Its future is under threat.
Ned Kelly's remains were transferred to D-Division in 1929 after his hanging at the Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880; they remained at Pentridge until 2009. D-Division also functioned as the main female prison in Victoria until 1956. One of its most famous women prisoners was Adela Pankhurst, the suffragette and anti-war activist, who was imprisoned there in 1917. Later D-Division became the Remand Division, housing those awaiting trial.
The 'commercial real estate' advertisement for D-Division contains no mention of the legal requirement for a properly curated museum. Yet as long ago as 2000, Justin Madden, the then Planning Minister, stated that, “a museum...will be built on the [Pentridge] site” (The Age, 29 January 2000).
A legal agreement between the site’s owner and the Victorian Heritage Council in 2008 required that parts of D Division be devoted to “historical interpretation and museum administration”. In 2016, a heritage permit (H1551) for mixed-use development in D-Division’s exercise yards mandated the creation of an museum comprising, “eight D-Division ground-floor cells, the remaining intact exercise yard and the single-story north annex building”.
D-division has been neglected by successive developers and its history eroded by a variety of poorly thought-out actions. For example, painting of the building has obliterated prisoners’ writings and drawings on the cell walls. What more will be lost?
Future Estate is asking $4.5 million for this historic building, whose future is touted for uses such as a hostel for backpackers. Given the continued unwillingness by developers to comply with key heritage requirements, the time for action has arrived. We believe that the State Government should buy D-Division and establish a museum in a site that has local, state, and national significance.
Please sign this petition to insist that the current government create the long-promised museum that will make the history of D-Division accessible to all.
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