A BRIDGE pieced together with stone from churches, temples and a synagogue, is one Woodville man’s powerful gesture of unity.
Each block of the arch design supports the faith next to it and the keystone - a decorative brass-inlaid design with the symbols of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Shintoism, Buddhism and Catholicism – stops the whole bridge crashing down.
Philip Redman built the bridge as a tribute to his late father, Anglican Canon Max Redman, who championed a ecumenical approach to faith for many years in Maitland.
“He and [Catholic] Bishop Toohey had a friendship and negotiated quite a number of marriages between Catholics and Protestants,” he said.
“It was significant when I was growing up, the Catholics and the Protestants didn’t get along, and that extended to some fierce rivalry on the football field.”
The first donated stone came from St John’s Anglican Church, Raymond Terrace. More stone was recovered from the Pitnacree farm flats at Maitland, where pieces from the East Maitland Uniting Church were dumped.
There’s even a Jerusalem stone from the Maitland synagogue, a piece from a Tibetan Buddhist temple, and a Japanese Shinto temple.
Dr Redman, a veterinarian with a specialty in equine fertility, conceived the idea for a bridge in his retirement.
He was left with an abundance of time when the stud Arrowfield bought out his business. Getting 1986 Golden Slipper winner Bounding Away in foal was one of his career highlights.
The bridge is his latest stone-accomplishment on Albion Farm that was established in the Hunter’s colonial days.
“I love rocks – it’s permanent - it won’t float away in the next flood,” Dr Redman said.
“Twenty years ago wreckers were happy to dump [stone] for a carton of beer but thankfully, for preservation purposes, that’s changed.”
Sourcing stone has become harder and Mr Redman was pleasantly surprised by the generosity of the various faiths for this project.
“The bridge is a good exercise for all the young ones. They’re confronted all the time with the bad elements of religion from terrorism to pedophilia; this shows the good side,” he said.