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Working class Sydneysiders whose bones were tossed around like toys by tradies digging on the CBD and South East Light Rail project are being returned to the earth two years later.
Rookwood Cemetery will conduct a service in the coming weeks for five Anglican and Jewish individuals found across two sites underneath Chalmers St in October and November 2018.
Further skull fragments, teeth, hips — but no complete skeleton — were found in 2019 during additional archaeological investigations at the two sites.
The private service at the Western Sydney cemetery will have five separate coffins and be conducted with representatives from the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the Jewish Burial Society, Rookwood and Transport for NSW.
“By doing this we are giving these people the recognition that they certainly deserve,” Rookwood general manager of operations and historian Mark Bundy said.
“At least that person has that respect for their final farewell, whatever their belief is.”
A worker finds bones on the light rail site, near Central station. Picture: 7News
The bones were discovered in Surry Hills in 2018. Picture: John Grainger
Light rail workers working on the site where the bones were found in 2018.
In October 2018 staff employed by government contractors Acciona encountered human bones.
Footage emerged of a construction worker cracking jokes about the bones as he dug them up and tossed them out of a hole during night road works.
“Looks like a hip. Anyone need a hip replacement? Still good — only used once,” he said.
At the time, Transport Minister Andrew Constance described the episode as “some of the most horrible, I think disgraceful, footage I’ve seen for a long time”.
Landscape view of Devonshire St cemetery. Picture: State Library of NSW/Australian Railway Historical Society.A year later the company was issued with a maximum $15,000 fine by the Department of Planning for “failing to comply with the Construction Heritage Management Plan”.
This article first appeared on www.dailytelegraph.com.au
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