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Presbyterian Church

Item details

Name of item: Presbyterian Church
Other name/s: Campbell Street Presbyterian Church
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Religion
Category: Church
Primary address: 7A Campbell Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
7A Campbell StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Campbell Street Church at No. 7A Campbell Street is of local historic, aesthetic, technological and social significance as an early stone Victorian Free Gothic style Church constructed in 1867-1868. The Church significantly retains its original form, scale and details particularly the stone façades and roof and associated details and prominent tower and stone spire. It significantly continues to be used by the local Presbyterian community. It is part of a group of Church buildings enhanced by the palisade and stone fence and mature trees and plantings and makes a positive contribution Campbell Street streetscape.

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: James McDonald
Builder/Maker: James Burt
Construction years: 1867-1868
Physical description: Rock faced and dressed stone Church with pedimented gabled roof clad in slates, exposed rafter end and vented gablets along the main, central gable. The front façade is symmetrical about a central tower with stone spire framed by gabled bays with pinnacle topped stone buttresses and pointed arched timber framed windows and doors with rustic stone label moulds over. The side facades are divided into bays with stone buttresses and pointed arched windows. The rear, eastern facade indicates the gabled roof form and also has pointed arch leaded feature windows. The Church is sited close to the street frontage which features wrought iron palisade fence on stone base with decorative stone piers and iron gates with concrete paving and some planting located between. The site falls to the east and Church is constructed over a basement level with open garden including a number of mature trees located to the east of the building. A face brick skillion roofed WC has been added to the south eastern corner of the building at basement level.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Appears in good condition. Some slates are damaged and displaced. Some soiling, moss staining and damp and deterioration of the stonework is visible. The stone at the base of the front façade is particularly weathered.
Modifications and dates: 1991: Toilet block ar rear of Church (91/455).
Further information: The basement also has timber framed windows and door. Modern concrete paving, brick walls, garden beds and steps are located around the building.
Current use: Church
Former use: Church


Historical notes: Surgeon William Balmain was granted 550 acres and most of the area now encompassing Balmain in 1800. In 1801 the entire grant was transferred to fellow surgeon John Gilchrist. Gilchrist never actually lived in NSW and advertised the land for sale in 1823. However, the sale was not a success. He gave power of attorney to his Sydney-based agent and merchant, Frank Parbury, who commissioned Surveyor John Armstrong to subdivide part of the land. In 1836 22, 2-4 acres lots mostly about Balmain East were auctioned for sale by Parbury on behalf of the absentee landowner, Gilchrist.
Parbury himself leased/ bought 10 acres at the south eastern part of the Waterview Bay and built the first house on the Balmain grant, Waterview House in 1835 (demolished c. 1905). It was a six-roomed single storey house with stables, outbuildings and a fenced garden. It stood near the corner of Colgate and Caroline Street. It was later purchased by George Cooper, Comptroller of Customs, who owned/ leased 28 acres adjacent to the west. Cooper subsequently fell victim to the crash of the early 1840s and was declared bankrupt. The Waterview Estate was subsequently divided into modest building allotments with very narrow streets (leaving as much land for development) leading down to the bay with its slipway and wharves. Robert Campbell acquired four acres of land which he also auctioned during the 1840s.
The first Congregational services including many Presbyterian worshippers assembled in Balmain in 1853. By 1857 the Presbyterians resolved to form their own congregation and held separate services in an old grain shed located on the corner of Cooper Street. This continued until a wooden church was constructed on the corner of Broadstair (now Colgate) and Darling Streets in c.1859. The growth of the congregation led to the decision to erect a larger Church and a site on the Campbell Estate was selected.
The Church was designed and was the largest and most important commission of architect James McDonald who called for tenders in November 1866. The successful tenderers were local builders, William and John Burt who used stone quarried on the estate. James Shultz of Clayton Street supplied the joinery and fittings. The foundation stone was laid in June 1867 and opened in April of the following year. Four years later in 1872 the gallery was added with access via stair within the tower.
Under the Church a room was built for Sunday School services and library. The congregation continued to grow and in June 1886 the Lecture Hall with auditorium, stage and back rooms was opened adjacent to the Church to accommodate the increasing numbers of scholars and to provide for other social activities of the congregation. In 1887 it was decided that that an organ fund be established which resulted in the addition of an organ which was built by Charles Richardson and first used in 1893. In 1897 a gas engine was installed to work the bellows. The organ was cleaned, repaired and toned in 1946 and fully restored in 1985.
Land adjacent to the Church property was purchased in 1882 for the purpose of building a Manse. This land was occupied by two buildings which provided revenue for the next 20 years. From the time the Church was opened in 1868 Ministers resided at Macquarie Terrace (Birchgrove) and in Nicholson Street. However, when one of the houses on the additional land fell into disrepair, it was demolished and in 1903 a substantial two storey Manse was constructed in its place. The other house (No. 9) was retained and remains adjacent to the Hall. The Manse was initially designed by McDonald who called for tenders in 1901. Unsatisfied with the result he retendered with amended design prepared jointly with Sydney architectural firm Slatyer and Cosh. This was possibly due to his advancing age. McDonald died before the completion of the Manse in 1906.
Since that time minor changes have been undertaken to the site and buildings.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site and Church are of high local historic significance as part of an early subdivision and early stone Church constructed in 1867-68. The additions and changes to the site and Church facilities reflect the growth and development of the local area and congregation.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Since 1860s it has been associated with the localPresbyterian community who have significantly continued to use and maintain the building and site. The building is associated with local architect James McDonald and local builder, John Burt.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is of high local aesthetic significance as a good and largely intact example of a simplified Victorian Free Gothic Church constructed in 1867-68. The building significantly retains it original form and character and particularly original stone façades, roof and associated decorative details and elements and prominent tower and stone spire. The building is part of a prominent group enhanced by the palisade and stone fence and mature trees and plantings and makes a positive contribution Campbell Street streetscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Church is constructed of locally quarried stone and may reveal information about local construction techniques and materials. It also retains an early organ.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building is of high social significance to the local Presbyterian community who have worshipped here and have occupied the site since the late 1860s.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a stone Victorian Church with simplified Free Gothic details constructed in the late 1860s. James MacDonald also designed St Andrew's Congregational Church which was also constructed by local builder Burt.
Integrity/Intactness: High
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.

Recommended management:

It is recommended that: - the existing scale, character and gothic details of the Church building including stone façades, buttresses, pattern of openings and associated details, parapeted gable and slate roof and associated vented gablets, tower and stone spire and entries should be retained and conserved; - no new additions or enclosures should be added the building façades and existing entries; - the face stone should remain face stone and unpainted and surfaces that have previously been painted, such as timber and metalwork should continue to be painted in appropriate colours; - no new openings should be made to the main facades; - the existing palisade and stone fence should be retained and conserved with any repairs or replacement to match the existing; - consideration should be given to the removal of concrete and hard paved surfaces at the base of the stone walls to prevent further erosion, soiling and water damage; - planting and trees, including stumps, should preferably be removed from the base of the stone walls and façades to prevent any ongoing damage; - planting and open setting should be retained around the building.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I14923 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City

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: Local Government
Database number: 1940157

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