As we have profiled items relating to the Federation ceremony in our recent posts it is fitting to feature this statue of Sir Henry Parkes which sits just inside the Paddington entrance to Centennial Park.
Parkes has been nicknamed the ‘Father of Federation’ due to his passionate campaigning for the six colonies of Australia to become united as a federation.Parkes was born in Warwickshire, England in 1815. He had humble beginnings and received a modest education. He began work life in basic jobs such as breaking stones in a brickyard before an apprenticeship as a bone and ivory turner. He married Clarinda Varney in 1836 before moving to NSW in 1839.
Life began in Sydney with low paying labourer jobs. He worked his way through government jobs and businesses of his own before entering NSW Parliament in 1854. He was NSW premier on 5 occasions and remains the longest serving (non-consecutive) NSW premier that there’s been.
He is remembered for his fight against convict labour and for fair wages and conditions for the working class. He was also the driving force behind the push for Federation in NSW. His speech known as the “Tenterfield Address” where he called for colonies to unite is one of the most famous speeches in Australian history. Sadly his death in 1896 meant that he did not see his desire for Federation realised.
Finally, Parkes will be remembered for the creation of Centennial Park where this statue now stands and for giving it the nickname “the People’s Park” at its opening in 1888.
Parkes had a colourful life and was not a great business man. He was controversial in his writings and his family life, but his rise from modest beginnings to such an influential figure in Australia’s history was remarkable. His legacy will be long remembered.
Note: I try to be as accurate as possible but make no guarantees. Please use this information at your own risk.