Thames Street Wharf | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Thames Street Wharf

Item details

Name of item: Thames Street Wharf
Other name/s: Mort Bay
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Water
Category: Wharf
Primary address: Thames Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Thames StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Thames Street Wharf is of local historic, aesthetic and social significance as a good and intact example of a Federation period ferry structure constructed in c. 1895. Despite some modifications and possible replacement of fabric, the shelter retains its fundamental form and character particularly timber and steel framing, roof form and decorative timber details, wall and roof claddings. Overall these elements make a positive contribution to the northern end of Thames Street and adjacent Park area. The Thames Street Wharf is of some local social significance to the local community and commuters, including those who rallied for its protection as possibly the last 19th century ferry structure remaining in use on Sydney Harbour.

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.

Description

Physical description: Timber jetty structure with timber and steel framed shelter with curved roof clad in corrugated steel. Located at the northern end of Thames Street and end of Mort Street, the timber wharf sits on heavy timber pylons on concrete footings with simple timber post and rail handrail and flat timber decking. The shelter has single arched openings, chamfered timber posts and framing, timber boarding and bracketed, decorative timber bargeboard which follows the curve of the roof to both the front and rear of the structure. The ends of the roof cladding curve up with corrugated cladding to the side walls. The wall and roof framing is exposed in the interior with some timber board and sheeting and simple bench seating lining the walls. The structure has a painted timber floor.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition and well maintained. Some splitting and shrinkage of the timber floor boards in the shelter is visible. The boards have also been painted with a non-slip finish. Some erosion of the timber pylons is evident.
Modern signage and security elements have been added. Pigeon spikes have also been added to the shelter.
Modifications and dates: c. 1997: Repairs
Further information: It would appear that some modifications and possible replacement of fabric to the jetty structure and shelter have been undertaken, however, the overall form and details have been retained.
Current use: Ferry wharf and shelter
Former use: Ferry wharf and shelter

History

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.
One of the first persons to acquire an interest in the Balmain estate was George Cooper, Comptroller of Customs, who initially purchased 23 acres of the choicest land fronting the deep water of Waterview Bay. The land generally extended between Campbell and Mort Streets.
By 1840 Cooper had acquired 30 acres around the Bay. He also purchased Waterview House and associated 10 acre estate to the east of his initial purchase. However, his changing situation forced him to sell the 23 acres in 1840. Cooper later fell victim to the crash of the early 1840s and in 1842 was declared bankrupt.
The initial 23 acres was subdivided into 4 large sections. Thames Street is part of of 8 acres of the land purchased by M Metcalfe, merchant, in 1840.
The area at the northern end of Thames Street remained largely undeveloped to the 1890s. A Sydney Water plan dated c. 1887 and amended in the 1890s (Balmain Sheet No. 14) indicates that Mort Street initially terminated at the northern bend, adjacent to what is now No. 103 Mort Street. The area to the east was occupied by a single building and otherwise vacant. No walls or other improvements are indicated apart from some “baths” on the waterfront in the area now occupied by the park.
Ferry services that linked Balmain to the city had long contributed to the early and sustained growth of the area. Steam ferries began operating on the Parramatta River in 1831 and called in at Balmain on this route. The Balmain Steam Ferry was established in 1843 by Henry Perdriau and the service continued to monopolise local services into the 1880s. The New Balmain Ferry Co undercut its competitor in 1892 and eight years later took over the Balmain Steam Ferry Co Ltd. It was estimated that between 20,000 and 24,000 people travelled daily on the sixteen ferries that conveyed passengers between Balmain and the city.
It is in this context that the Thames Street Wharf was constructed in c. 1895. Due to its location and proximity to local industries it has been noted that hundreds of dockyard employees would congregate at this wharf daily. By 1900 it was one of sixteen places that passenger could board or alight from ferries in Annandale, Balmain and Leichhardt.
Since that time the Wharf has continued to be used by Sydney Ferries. In early 1997 the Department of Transport spent $50,000 on repairs to the building and structure. The wharf remains as possibly the last 19th century ferry structure in use in Balmain and on Sydney Harbour.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Growth of Balmain-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The wharf and shelter is of historic significance as part of the Federation period of development of the local area. Constructed in c. 1895 it represents the growth and development and ongoing use of ferry services in Balmain.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The wharf and shelter are associated with a number of local industries, Balmain Ferry Co and Sydney Ferries.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The shelter is of aesthetic significance as a good and intact example of a Federation period ferry structure constructed in c. 1895. Despite some modifications and possible replacement of fabric, the shelter retains its fundamental form and character particularly timber and steel framing, roof form and decorative timber details, wall and roof claddings. Overall these elements make a positive contribution to the northern end of Thames Street and adjacent Park area.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Thames Street Wharf is of some local social significance to the local community and commuters.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The wharf is possibly the last 19th century ferry structure remaining in use on Sydney Harbour.
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 ferry wharf and shelter including the scale and form of the shelter, associated timber and steel fabric and details should be retained and conserved; - the fabric of the structure should be regularly inspected and repaired as required with materials and details to match the existing; - no additions or additional openings should be made to the existing shelter. Any further modification or addition of any signage and operating equipment should not impact or detract from the fabric and character of the building; - the timber jetty should continue to be maintained and fabric repaired and replaced as required to ensure on going and safe use.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I32623 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: 1940345


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