The Wentworth Park wall has been torn down! The Wentworth Park games, held on Sunday, represent community efforts to rejuvenate the park and usurp the strict demarcation of the greyhound races as a non-community space.
Ultimo and Glebe were pitted against each other and events that took place as part of the games included tug of war, gumboot throwing, and the non-greyhound dog races.
Community groups believe it’s time to restore the park to its former glory and make it a thriving public space.
“The concrete walls which circle the Greyhound track, dividing the park into three disconnected areas and obscuring the grandeur of this large open space, are being replaced”, said Mary Mortimer, Coordinator of the Wentworth Park games.
“The aim of the Wentworth Park Games is to establish a precedent of the general public utilising the racing area outside the times of scheduled dog racing events and making this area easily accessible.”
Local resident Steven has attended all three Park games.
“Opening up the dog track adds another dimension in the Glebe ultimo area and counterbalances the heavy traffic running through the surrounding suburbs.”
However the Wentworth Park Games is not an expression of community discontent with the greyhound racing events.
“Greyhound racing represents a piece of community nostalgia as it was always viewed as the working class alternative to horse racing which was an activity for the rich carried out on manicured lawns”, said Ms Mortimer.
The park has had a chequered history. Prior to colonisation it was a beautiful harbour cove wetland, however by the 1830’s the area had become heavily polluted by meatworks, which spawned particularly pungent odours intolerable for local residents.
At this stage Wentworth park was nothing more than a swamp. In 1873 it was decided the area would become a park for public use and up until 1914 the area was a popular sporting venue which drew large crowds and also hosted an open air cinema.
However the wars and the intervening depression saw the park fall into disuse and in 1939 the concrete wall was built around the greyhound track, which symbolised the end of a welcoming community space.
By Marcus Coombs