Newcastle shop owner says the city will never be the same after Queens Wharf Tower disappears

Last look: Kerrie Fletcher looks back at the Queens Wharf Tower from her shop in Market Square on Friday. The tower is due to start coming down on Monday night. Picture: Marina Neal.
Last look: Kerrie Fletcher looks back at the Queens Wharf Tower from her shop in Market Square on Friday. The tower is due to start coming down on Monday night. Picture: Marina Neal.

Many Novocastrians will barely bat an eyelid when Queens Wharf Tower starts to disappear from skyline next week. But Kerrie Fletcher won’t be one of them. 

Ms Fletcher has looked at the landmark every day for the past 11 years from her shop in Market Square. 

Far from seeing a piece of 1980s ciche, Ms Fletcher, 59, clearly remembers the impression the tower made upon her and husband Michael during their first visit to Newcastle soon after its construction in 1988. 

“We were travelling from Gladstone to Wollongong. I was under the impression that Newcastle was just a heavy industrial city, but the new tower made me realise the city was changing. It had a real modern feel about it,” she said. 

Bird's eye view: A recent drone photo of Queens Wharf Tower. Picture: Dave Rees

Bird's eye view: A recent drone photo of Queens Wharf Tower. Picture: Dave Rees

The couple moved to Newcastle a few years later and Queens Wharf Tower has remained a focal point of their lifestyle. 

“It a place that I use as a marker. I've used it to gauge distance and time when I've walked in from maryville and sat around at so many late nights in a break from working late nights watching ships go past it,” Ms Fletcher said.

“I have also sent photos of it to friends in the US so they can see where I am.” 

As for the criticism of the tower’s phallic structure, Ms Fletcher said the critics needed to lighten up. 

“I’m sure there are far more important things that people could be concerned about,” she said.

Mayfield-based contractor Major Projects Group will remove the 30-year-old structure over three our four nights, starting at 12.30am on Monday.

They will detach and lower the top dome and observation deck on the first night, followed by the main shaft and lower sections of the tower throughout the course of the week. 

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“We will remove each section using a 300-tonne crane, and all major work will be completed on night shifts to avoid any disruption to the daily life of the public enjoying the wharf area,” MPG project manager Peter Allen told The Herald.

Once removed, synthetic grass, “rubberised surfaces”, seating, tree planters and Alexander Palms will be installed in the area. 

“This is a temporary solution for place activation with an anticipated lifespan of up to five years,” lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes said.

Ms Flecther said the reality that the tower would no longer be part of her life was hard to accept. 

“At first I didn’t believe it. I think I will cry to be honest, I took a shot last night as a final memory. It has been part of my landscape for more than a decade,” she said.

The council says the tower would have cost ratepayers $1.6 million in maintenance over the next four years. The demolition will cost an estimated $300,000.