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Your KS #52: Hugo Throssell Memorial

Picture: the memorial in 2017, author “Wikirowdy”, from Wikimedia Commons.

On the corner of Great Eastern Highway and Old York Road, just across from the KSP Writers’ Centre, is the Hugo Throssell memorial rotunda. It was opened on 24 February 1954, when Major General Bierworth unveiled a memorial tablet inscribed to Hugo. There were one hundred and fifty in attendance. ‘At last’, Hugo’s widow, Katharine Susannah Prichard, wrote to her son Ric, ‘some tribute is paid to your father’s memory’. Katharine gave a speech, calling for the people of the district to remember Hugo ‘not only for his courage… but for his kindliness and friendliness’ and his hope that ‘negotiation would displace war, because he felt so deeply the sorrow & suffering caused by war’. A girl named Dale Hunter presented Katharine with a bouquet; her family were old friends with Katharine and Hugo, having run the Wandu guesthouse further along the street. Sixty years on, Dale is one of the few people still alive who were there.

The State Heritage inventory’s history of the memorial states: The idea for the memorial… came from his widow. The original concept for the memorial, as described in the "West Australian" of June 1937, was for a drinking fountain for pedestrians and a watering trough for Throssell's beloved horse. In 1939, Katharine transferred to the Mundaring Road Board land she owned at the corner of the new and old York Roads. Possibly due to the intervention of WWII, the memorial was not built and unveiled until February 1954. It then took the form of a rotunda or bus shelter with a rock edged garden. It has been suggested the stones came from Coppin Road quarried and that the builder Egisto Simonelli numbered the stones to assist construction. Since then, it has been subjected to damage from runaway vehicles, and in the early 1980's it was moved to accommodate the widening of Great Eastern Highway.

Katharine’s letters to Ric from the time record her gratitude to a Mr and Mrs Kirton, Greenmount residents, for ‘putting the Memorial Reserve in order, & raising funds for it’. They had not known Hugo, but felt it was important.

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