Balmain Co-op Society Ltd | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Balmain Co-op Society Ltd

Item details

Name of item: Balmain Co-op Society Ltd
Other name/s: Balmain Coop Society Ltd, F. B. Rice and Co.
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Other - Commercial
Primary address: 28-30A Montague Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
28-30A Montague StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

No. 28-30A Montague Street is of local historic, aesthetic and social significance as good and intact representative example of a large former commercial building constructed in the Federation Free Classical style in 1912. It is important for its high townscape value. Despite some alterations and change of use, the building retains its early form, character and details including high decorative parapet with pediments, stone details of the front façade and associated details and pattern of openings. The building occupies a relatively large triangular shaped corner site and is rare in the whole of the Sydney. It is very significant as a building constructed for a working class cooperative.

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.

Council's Library Service has identified photos and/or subdivision plans relating to this item which may be viewed online through the council website at Select Library & Local History to get to the Library online catalogue and keyword search "Balmain Map" and/or "Montague Street" for results.
Date significance updated: 07 Dec 10
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.


Physical description: Large two storey plus basement brick Federation style commercial building located on a triangular piece of land between Montague Street and the north east corner of Little Llewellyn Street. The buiding's front façade faces Montague Street with its secondary façade facing Little Llewellyn Street. The rear of the building runs parallel to the front elevation.

The basement level of the building is at the corner point of the building and runs halfway under the building. There is a three panelled timber entry door on the corner of the building leading to the basement level. The ground floor Montague Street façade consists of face brick walls and tall bays with brick pilasters between. The bays contain large entry doors with highlights above and large brick arches with large fixed glass panels. There is decorative stone banding at the base, on the pilasters and window sills and in the centre façade running as a cornice across the building. The first floor facde consists of brick walls, bays with pilasters between. The bays contain modern steel frame six panelled windows.There is decorative stone banding at the top and base of the windows. A tall face brick parapet wall is decorated with stone trim cornices, pediments and lettering.

The Little Llewellyn Street façade is painted render with small timber framed double hung windows. There is a small parking area at the rear of the building.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition
Replacement of windows and doors.
Some stone detailing replaced.
Stone steps renewed.
The basement level brickwork is discoloured.
Some brickwork on parapet stained.
Date condition updated:30 Nov 10
Modifications and dates: 1979: Roller door and alterations (17849).
1983: renovations (21210).
1987: commercial alterations (internal partitioning) (DA/185/1987).
1989: Construction of internal partitions (89/725).
1989: Roor-mounted air conditioner (89/462).
2006: alterations (CC/2006/371).
2007: carport to rear (CC/2007/372).
Current use: Commercial
Former use: Commercial


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. The early subdivision was, however, suspended in 1841 due to difficulties associated with Gilchrist’s will, but was resumed in 1852 when Surveyor Langley divided it into 46 later 47 sections. Langley used existing routes such as Darling Street and other tracks such as Beattie and Mullens Streets, which followed the local topography and contours, to delineate the parcels. The sections were purchased over the next 30 years by wealthy investors, local speculators and builders.

The site is located in Lot 7 of the 1852 subdivision . By the 1880s, Balmain's grant had been subdivided and sold. An 1883 plan by Higginbotham, Robinson and Harrison, shows subdivisions in Balmain and the, the triangular shaped Llewellyn Estate is bounded by Montague, Llewellyn and Beattie Streets. It remained undivided unlike nearly everything else in Balmain at the time.

No. 28-30 Montague Street was constructed in 1912 as a grocery store.

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 Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site and building are of local historic significance of high townscape value as part of an early subdivision and late Federation period of development in the local area constructed in 1912. It demonstrates the predominant working class character of Balmain at the beginning of the 20th century.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building and site are associated with the working class cooperative.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is of local aesthetic significance as a good and intact purpose-built commercial building constructed in the Federation Free Classical style in 1912. Despite some alterations and change of original use, the building retains its early form, character and details including face brick walls and tall bays with brick pilasters between brick arches with large fixed glass panels, decorative stone banding at the base, on the pilasters and window sills and in the centre façade running as a cornice across the building. the windows. A tall face brick parapet wall is decorated with stone trim cornices, pediments and lettering.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is rare in the whole of the Sydney. It demonstrates the very significant self help by the skilled workers forming the Coop to keep prices down on everyday commodities.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a Federation Free Classical building constructed in 1912 that retains its detailed front façade.
Integrity/Intactness: Medium - 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 detail of the building including brick facades, front parapet with pediments and associated stone details on the façade and parapet including relief lettering, arched recesses, entry doors, classical details and pattern of openings should be retained and conserved; - no new openings should be made in the building facades facing Montague and Llewellyn Lane. - any further additions should be restricted to the rear of the building and should not detract from the distinctive form and character of the building which remains discernible.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I26123 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: 1940276

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