Playground Number Two
An article by Fay Mander Jones in The Glebe Society Bulletin, March/April 2004
Saturday 14 February – a lovely morning
and a crowd was gathering at a small piece of open space beside the railway tracks in George Street Erskineville.
Seats were laid out, flags were flying, refreshments
were on hand, coffee and tea for adults, ice cream and orange juice for the children. There was an air of celebration around.
Was it a party? Somebody’s birthday perhaps? Not a birthday, but definitely a celebration …
As a result of Dr John Hood’s research,
this pocket of playground has been identified as the second piece of land bought by Madam Helen Kirsova (the first has since
been built over) to provide playing space for the disadvantaged children of the area. Dr Hood had approached South Sydney
Council and today the park was being named and dedicated to Mme Kirsova.
About 50 people listened to the speeches, watched
the unveiling of the commemorative plaque and had their photographs taken. Ex-Councillors,
would-be Mayors, local families, all mingled together and were made very welcome. However, the biggest welcome was reserved
for five of Mme Kirsova’s Dancers who had come to attend this dedication from as far as Brisbane and Cootamundra. They
had many stories to tell and many old photos to hand around. They remembered Mme Kirsova with great respect and affection.
The Ballet Company she founded was the first professional dance company in Australia and had a reputation for excellence. Madame was
a woman of independent means, and all of the Ballet Company’s profits were given to the Red Cross or used to establish
three inner city playgrounds, two of which now bear her name.
The City of Sydney Council
has undertaken to upgrade the third Kirsova Playground, situated in the corner of Wigram Lane,
Glebe. We look forward to celebrating its refurbishment and its dedication to a most remarkable woman.
-Fay Mander Jones