Silver ball to light up Warrnambool sky

Shine bright: The Fletcher Jones Silver Ball will be illuminated at night. It has been lit up in blue in the past (above) to raise autism awareness. Picture: Rhonda McDonell

Shine bright: The Fletcher Jones Silver Ball will be illuminated at night. It has been lit up in blue in the past (above) to raise autism awareness. Picture: Rhonda McDonell

Warrnambool’s iconic Silver Ball will be visible across the city, both day and night, with plans to illuminate the landmark.

Fletcher Jones stories project team co-ordinator Julie Eagles said the committee fund-raised and applied for Heritage Victoria Living Heritage Grants to fix corrosion and paint the water tower.

It was then they had the idea to illuminate it.

“You can see it from so many places we thought wouldn’t it be cool if you could see it at night.” Ms Eagles said.

“We’re very excited. We were so excited to get the money to fix it but just to light it up as well is the fulfillment of the whole dream really. It’s great.”

Ms Eagles recognised the support and financial contribution of site owner Dean Montgomery and the collaborative effort between him, site manager Troy Kelly and the FJ Stories project team to fix the corrosion and restore the ball to its former glory. 

The group received $10,000 from the AL Lane Foundation, which was matched by the Isabelle and David Jones Family Foundation, who are descendants of Fletcher Jones, to light it up. 

"It’s a pointer on our landscape. You can always find where you are by looking at the Silver Ball.” 

In June, it will be 50 years since the ball was erected.

It is hoped the structure will be lit from December and coincide with the Christmas picnic at the former factory’s gardens, and the opening of a car museum at the site. 

Ms Eagles said while the lighting details were yet to be decided, the public was given a “very tiny taste" after it was lit up in blue to raise awareness about autism.

“It’s likely that the lighting design will allow for changing colours and designs – we’d all like it to be something special.”

She said unlike the controversial heritage listed property at 94 Merri Street which was significantly damaged by fire and demolished in 2010, the community cared about and understood the importance of retaining the Silver Ball. 

She said the Fletcher Jones Pleasant Hill site, which received state heritage listing in 2006, was a vital part of the city’s cultural, social, economic history.

She said Mr Montgomery bought it because of its strong community connection and he “didn’t want to see it fall down”. 

“There were two things we realised – you need a sympathetic owner and the second is you need community to care and we’ve got both of those.

“It’s like our wildest dream. We couldn’t have dreamt of a better outcome. It really is an amazing little story.” 

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