Burns Philp Building | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Burns Philp Building

Item details

Name of item: Burns Philp Building
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Commercial Office/Building
Location: Lat: -33.8639095670 Long: 151.2080495430
Primary address: 5-11 Bridge Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Philip
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOTS1-15 CP/SP57011
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
5-11 Bridge StreetSydneySydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Strata Plan No. 57011Private 

Statement of significance:

The Burns Philp Building has state historical significance for its relationship, and continuous association from 1901-1997, with the Burns Philp Company, a major Australian maritime company who traded with the Pacific Islands. The be building is one of the
few identified extant works of the firm A.L & G. McCredie, a major Australian architectural practice of the later nineteenth century.

The building has state aesthetic significance for its rare architectural quality, which includes the richly carved and modelled faade in the Romanesque style made popular by American architect Henry Hobson Richardson and the finely executed sandstone carving and interior finishes. The building makes a major contribution to and is a key element in the Macquarie Place / Bridge Street Conservation area.

The building is of state technical significance as one of the first uses of composite construction and is a landmark building for the combination of new structural techniques and a fine faade treatment. Burns Philp maritime history contributes to our understanding of Australia's early trade and economy.

It is socially significant, as it is well known for its association with the Burns Philp Company, who successfully traded for more than a century along the east coast of Australia and the Pacific Islands and repatriated the Kanakas to the Pacific Islands. The Burns Philp Building exhibits the Scottish roots of the company by use of motifs such as the Scottish thistle. Philp became associated with the development of Townsville.

(Conservation Management Plan - Conybeare Morrison & Partners)
Date significance updated: 09 Oct 03
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Designer/Maker: A.L. and G. McCredie
Builder/Maker: Mitchell and King
Construction years: 1899-1900
Physical description: The Burns Philp Building is located at the South Western end of Bridge St. Sydney. It comprises of a basement, ground level, mezzanine level and three upper levels.

The architectural styles are described as federation, Romanesque/late Victorian, Gothic and Neo-Romanesque with Scottish Baronial gables. The facade is symmetrical apart from the laneway access at ground level from Bridge St. to Bridge Lane. The elaborate stonework is made from Pyrmont 'Purgatory' sandstone. The base is constructed of rock-faced stonework with dressed reveals and ornate carvings over the arched entrance. The Bridge lane facades are of brick construction with face brick landing and lintels.

Generally the building structure is sound and in reasonable condition apart from the recent water ingress problem to the west wall of the basement. The street faade of the building is three stories high constructed with Waverly sandstone with sturdy granite columns. The comprising perimeter masonry walls and cast iron columns and timber floors appear to be in good condition and is substantially intact apart from alterations associated with the new lift, fire stairs and fire upgrading within the rear central core of the building.
Current use: Commercial
Former use: Commercial

History

Historical notes: The Burns Philp Building was built and established in 1899. Before the building the land was occupied by early settlers and eventually utilised by a lumberyard and a series of five buildings occupied by a number of small business' including a watchmaker, loan office, tea-rooms, a bedding manufacturer and a warehouse.

James Burns was born in 1846, originally from Glasgow, James and his older brother sailed and landed in Brisbane in 1862. By 1872 they had become partners in a grocery business in Townsville, before expanding into shipping. Over time James became a shrewd businessman, his business prospered "due to his wonderful business acumen, probity, magnetic personality and untiring efforts" [Conybeare Morrison & Partners 2000:8].

Robert Philp was also born in Glasgow in 1852. Philp immigrated with his family in 1862. In 1874 Burns offered Philp a job with a view of partnership. In April 1883 the company was incorporated under NSW law with Philp based in Townsville and Burns in Sydney. Philp resigned in 1893 after financial difficulties, but went on to become the Premier of Queensland 1899-1903.

At this time Burns Philp occupied a building, No 10 located directly opposite the site on Bridge Street, but by 1898 this building was heavily pressed with increasing demands on the company and on the building. By 1899 it was obvious that the building had to be expanded. In April 1898 Burns made an offer for the 109 feet frontage to Bridge Street opposite the existing building. This offer was declined, a second was made and in May 1899 the land had been purchased. By October 1899 twenty-eight tenders had been received for the new building. The successful tender came from Mitchell and King at 23, 875 pounds. By the end of 1900 leases had been signed to Weber Lohmann and Co., the Bellambi Coal Co., J. R. Bexter Bruce, Captain R. M Phillips William Honston, H. W. Peabody and Co. and the North Queensland Insurance Co. [Conybeare Morrison & Partners 2000]. All these companies had a considerable voice in the finishing work, adding their own requests for fittings.

In 1908 structural alterations, decorating and furnishing was carried out. During the 1950s, 1960s, later 1970s and 1980s significant changes were made to the original building to expand for new accommodation for new tenants, its capabilities and its presentation to suit the changing image of the company.

The rear of the building had suffered from fire damage. The building was sold in 1997 due to the financial collapse of Burns Philp. Council has approved subdivision of the building into 14 commercial strata- tilted units. The contents of the building were auctioned by Lawsons on Wednesday 25th March 1998, which included photographs, paintings, maps, shipping memorabilia and furniture.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Warehousing and storage for commercial enterprises-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Trading between Australia and other countries-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in offices-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Federation Romanesque Revival-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Burns Philp Building is of State significance as building designed for a long established maritime company who continuously occupied and retained ownership of the building from 1901-1997.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is of State significance for its associations with the company of Burns Philps, a large shipping company that, in its day, made a large economic contribution to the State.

The building is of State significance for its associations with the architectural firm A.L. & G. McCredie. The building is one of the few identified extant works of this major Australian architectural practice of the late nineteenth century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Burns Philp Building is of State significance for its faade and interiors, which display a high architectural and aesthetic quality and demonstrate the skills of local craftsmen and the capability of sandstone for architectural ornamentation and structure. The incorporation of a lane entrance is an unusual and distinctive feature of the Bridge Street elevation.

The Burns Philp Building, with its richly carved and modelled faade, makes a major contribution and is a key element in the Macquarie Place / Bridge Street Conservation area, one of the most important historic townscape precincts in the City of Sydney.

The Burns Philp Building is a rare example of the Federation Romanesque style made popular by American architect Henry Hobson Richardson.

The building is an unusual and rare example in the city of building over a public space i.e.. The laneway.


(Conservation Management Plan - Conybeare Morrison & Partners)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is well known for its association with the Burns Philp Company, a major Australian maritime commercial entity, who successfully traded for more than a century along the south east coast of Australia and the Pacific Islands. The Burns Philp Building exhibits references to the Scottish roots of the company, by use of motifs such as the Scottish thistle, in the strong corporate image they desired to be known and recognised by.

The building indicates the Burns Philp Company's confidence in the future (possibly related to Federation), by the use of materials and finishes normally seen on banks and government buildings.

The building is socially significant due to its association with both Burns and Philp. Philp played a major role in the development of Townsville.


(Conservation Management Plan - Conybeare Morrison & Partners)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Burns Philp Building is of State significance as one of the first uses of composite construction of steel, timber masonry and cast iron. It is a landmark building for the combination of new structural techniques and fine faade treatment. It was one of the first uses of cast and wrought iron structure after its early manufacture.

The Burns Philp (South Sea) Company Limited operated in the Pacific Islands and contributes to an understanding of Australia's early trade ands economy. In 1960, Burns Philp won the tender to supervise the repatriation of the Kanaeas (labourers brought from Pacific Islands, usually to work in the sugar fields or in other large scale agricultural industries) to the Pacific Islands.

(Conservation Management Plan - Conybeare Morrison & Partners)
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementConservation Management Plan, 5-11(7) Bridge Street Sydney CMP endorsed by Heritage Council 22 March 2001 for a period of five years, expires 22 march 2006. Mar 22 2001
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0034702 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0034725 Jan 85 0230390
Local Environmental PlanCSH LEP 4 07 Apr 00   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenConybeare Morrison & Partners2000Conservation Managemtn Plan 5-11 (7) Bridge Street Sydney

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045720
File number: EF14/5351; S90/3818; HC 33140


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