The Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) has been recognised with a National Trust Heritage Silver Award for its conservation planning and work on Warwick Cemetery’s William Mitchner Shelter.

Each year the National Trust of Australia (Queensland) awards outstanding projects and people that demonstrate excellence in the protection, conservation and celebration of Queensland environmental, built and cultural heritage. Southern Downs Councillor for Planning and Property Neil Meiklejohn said the award is fantastic recognition for all Council staff involved in the project. “The William Mitchner Shelter is a significant and unique building and unusual in its history and style,” Cr Meiklejohn said. “Congratulations to all of those Council officers involved on receiving a Silver Award from the National Trust Heritage for their conservation work, they certainly should be recognised throughout the community.”

The William Mitchner Shelter is the most substantial memorial structure at Warwick Cemetery with its fabric almost entirely original. One of the Southern Downs heritage assets, the William Mitchner Shelter is 92-years old and is listed on the Queensland Heritage Register and Southern Downs Heritage Register. The Shelter was gifted to the people of Warwick in 1926 funded by a bequest under the will of William Mitchner, who died in 1918. He left a remarkable will distributing a large estate primarily to public works both on the Darling Downs and in the town of his birth in Germany. In the same year, a second memorial shelter—also funded under William Mitchner’s will—was erected within the nearby Allora General Cemetery. Both cemeteries and shelters were entered in the Queensland Heritage Register in 2001.

Managed by SDRC’s Community Services and Major Projects team, the restoration process began in 2016, when Council engaged heritage consultants Conrad Gargett to prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) and Scope of Works for the shelter’s restoration. Together with the detailed Scope of Works, Council now has a robust document with which to seek funding for the staged restoration and long-term conservation of shelter. Cr Meiklejohn said he encouraged all residents across the region to view the recently restored William Mitchner Shelter, which is located in the older part of the Warwick Cemetery. “The shelter at Warwick Cemetery – and a very similar one at Allora Cemetery – is an important part of local history, made possible by donations from Mr Mitchner at the time, and preserving the shelter for future generations is a wonderful outcome,” he said.

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