Harold Kerr was born in Sydney in 1939, after his parents had emigrated from Poland. In 1995 he moved with his wife from the eastern suburbs of Sydney to Highgate, an upmarket residential building in Kent St Millers Point. In this interview he talks about his life; the holocaust; school; occupations; the clothing business; strength of local Millers Point community; involvement in resident action of various kinds; personal development; fund-raising and community support groups. In the excerpt below he discusses the significance of the Millers Point area’s heritage listing.
This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.
The situation before the [heritage] listing of Millers and Dawes Points as a single entity was that the Department of Housing had done quite a lot of work and there were some hundred and ten, hundred and twelve, hundred and thirteen, individual listings on the register. But this meant that these individual properties and their immediate curtilage were protected, but nothing else was. Things of, shall we say, extreme importance such as Observatory Hill, the area where the old Fort Street School stands, the old Metrological building, all of that, all of the areas within Cahill Expressway, none of this was actually protected. This really became quite a concern because with governments wanting to sell off land and do all sorts of things there could have been more damage done to Millers Point.
If you look at Millers Point today there is only a tiny fraction of the original that stands. If you look at it from the air, if you look at a map, there are only a handful of streets and rows of terraces that remain and they are very, very precious. Millers Point was in fact the first village in Australia and it was established because of the maritime activity that started in this area – labour was needed and people had to live close by – and the village was established, and what is left of it today, what we have, we really want to hold on to.