As a prominent Nowra CBD garden, 'William Batt Memorial Garden', gets a makeover by Shoalhaven City Council, we look at the man the garden honors.
William 'Billy' Batt was made Nowra Municipal Council shire clerk with the amalgamation of the distric's local government areas on June 30, 1948.
He retired in 1966 and then worked for a number of years at the Shoalhaven Paper Mill.
He was actively involved in many community organizations, these included the ambulance service, the hospital and Havenlee. He was awarded the M.B.E. in 1967 for his services to the community.
He was renowned for his organising ability and during his term as the Shire Clerk saw many major achievements among these were the building of a footway over Nowra Bridge, re-siting of the golf course from Braidwood Road, the building of Flat Rock dam, early town drainage and sewerage system and an adequate water supply.
He died suddenly on April 23, 1973.
William came to Nowra in 1932, when the township of Nowra had around 1680 people.
"Nowra was then known as the second worst municipality in the state and Berry known as the worst and when I first arrived the council was just about bankrupt" described Mr Batt during a talk to the Shoalhaven Historical Society .
At the time the council chambers were in an old building on Bridge Road which is now a carpark.
"At that time things were very bad - it was the middle of the depression, money was outstanding everywhere, it was pretty strenuous that first year or two."
Also at that time, on the corner of Bridge Road there was a triangular plot, with broken down fence full of weeds and when the men got drunk at the Bridge Hotel, they travelled right through it.
William along with Dr. Rodway, Mr. Barnes who then operated the garage, Mr. Stewart of the Bridge Hotel and Wally Watson got together and paid the cost of what is now known as "Batt's Folly".
During the talk to the Shoalhaven Historical Society he told an antidote of his time as the gas works manager.
"I found that there was no meter to tell us what we made and sold, so in the first year we acquired one - this told us we lost 2/3 and only sold about one third of what we made.
"We had to find the leaks in the gas lines. Joe Ashton, who was my ganger suggest we catch blowflies and put them in a match box, when we got near where we could smell gas, we released the flies and they would go straight to the leak, you dug down and those flies were 100 per cent right.
"We got the gas works into reasonable shape it was originally built in 1904 and the works came from Callum Park, and was second hand then. A chap named Alexander was consultant, contractor, seller and everything on that scheme and there rose a court case because the effluent used to run down into Graham's swamp opposite.
"They were taken to court and that is why we have those few acres of what will soon be a park at the back of Bridge Road. It really was a swamp then."
Information thanks to Shoalhaven Historical Society.