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Trust launched for Vahland fountain restoration appeal

21 July 2015 |Media centre

Bendigo Bank, in conjunction with the City of Greater Bendigo and the National Trust of Victoria, today launched a trust fund to restore a drinking fountain in Pall Mall in Bendigo.

The fountain was designed by prolific architect William Charles Vahland who was a founding director of Bendigo Building Society, now Bendigo Bank. The appeal was launched on the centenary of his death.

The appeal aims to raise $250,000 to complete the project with more than $120,000 already raised by the City of Greater Bendigo ($25,000), the Francis and Harold Abbot Foundation ($25,000) and the German Heritage Society ($20,000). Engineering firm Howard Osborne and the Keech family will assist with a range of in-kind work.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Chairman, Robert Johanson, said the Bank is delighted to support the restoration of the drinking fountain to the city for all to enjoy.

"WC Vahland has been an integral part of Bendigo's history and has made a significant contribution to our Bank's history.

"He was a director when the first Bendigo building society was established in 1858 and remained on the board for more than 50 years. He was Chairman for more than 30 years and even Managing Director for a few years when he stepped in to deal with a crisis.

"He was also a founding shareholder of Sandhurst Trustees.

"He was responsible for some of the city centre's most recognisable buildings – the Bendigo Art Gallery, the Capital Theatre and the Bendigo Town Hall. He also designed simple and affordable houses for working people which were financed through the building society. We believe he developed the original house, land and finance package - the great Australian dream, which assisted many people to buy their own home," Mr Johanson said.

"Bendigo has a unique history that has shaped by the diversity of its peoples, their cultures and lifestyles", Mr Johanson said.

"I hope that people will see the restoration of the drinking fountain as more than just another monument; that they will recognise the effort and the people who established the community."

City of Greater Bendigo Mayor, Councillor Peter Cox thanked the donors for their generosity.

"The City is grateful for this financial and in-kind support to kick-start this ambitious project to return a forgotten historic treasure to our streetscape, and I look forward for restoration works to begin," he said.

The fountain will be placed at the end of Bull Street on Pall Mall, between the Law Courts and the Conservatory Gardens.

The City of Bendigo has launched a smartphone app called "Vahland's Bendigo" to provide more information on the fountain, including a short history and current and past photos.

Vahland was born and grew up Germany and joined people from across the world to seek their fortune on the Bendigo goldfields, building the foundations for the Bendigo community today.

To make a tax free donation to the restoration project, please visit any of the nine Bendigo Bank branches in Bendigo.

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