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18-July-2016 (Russell Byers)
18-July-2016 (Russell Byers)

Photographs supplied by Diane Watson / Russell Byers

The plaque commemorates that Sir Henry Parkes at this site delivered his famous Tenterfield Speech which started the movement for the federation of the Australian colonies.

On 24 October 1889 at a reception in his honour at the Tenterfield School of Arts, Parkes delivered an address to his former constituents that was a call for Federation. In this landmark speech, which has come to be known as the Tenterfield Oration, he declared that the time was right for a convention of representatives from all the colonies to be convened ‘to devise the constitution which would be necessary for bringing into existence a federal government with a federal parliament for the conduct of national undertaking’.

A former Mayor, Mr A. D. Donnelly, as early as 1935, developed a vision for the building to become a national memorial to Sir Henry Parkes, the Father of Federation. Parkes had represented the Tenterfield Electorate in the New South Parliament from 1882 to 1884 and had chosen to make his famous Federation Speech of October 1889 in the Tenterfield School of Arts. Donnelly realised that, potentially, this made the building one of the most historically significant in Australia.

A glorious New England day marked the unveiling of the Parkes Commemorative Tablet by the Duke of Gloucester. H.R.H. was piped into the town of Tenterfield by pipers in Royal Stewart tartan. A simple but Impressive address by Ald. E. J. Petherick, Mayor of Tenterfield, preceded H.R.H. unveiling of the Parkes Commemorative plaque on the School of Arts building. In his address H.R.H. said: "The Duchess deeply regrets she was unable to come with me. Fifty seven years ago Sir Henry Parkes made his famous Tenterfield speech here and I am glad to have this opportunity to visit you and see for myself this historic building. "That speech was inspired largely by the defence needs of the Australian colonies at that time-I congratulate Ald. Donnelly on his hard work, which has now resulted in this hall being recognised as the place where Federation was conceived." The Duke, on completion of the unveiling address, presented Ald Donnelly with a signed copy of his address. The Duke inspected a guard of honour of Tenterfield returned soldiers and servicewomen, V.A.D. and Red Cross, Boy Scouts and then proceeded to the Tenterfield showground to witness the main event of the spring carnival, the open camp draft. 
Northern Star (Lismore, NSW), 18 October 1946.


Address:New England Highway & Manners Street, Memorial School of Arts, Tenterfield, 2372
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -29.055687
Long: 152.018825
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Government
Actual Event Start Date:24-October-1899
Actual Event End Date:24-October-1899


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Thursday 17th October, 1946
Front Inscription

This tablet was unveiled by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester K.G., K.T., K.P., Governor-General and Commander-In-Chief of the Commonwealth of Australia on the 17th October 1946

To commemorate that on 24th October, 1889 Sir Henry Parkes in this hall delivered his famous Tenterfield Speech which set  in motion the popular movement resulting in Australian Federation

1st January, 1901.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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