Industrial building “Eclipse House” including interior | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Industrial building “Eclipse House” including interior

Item details

Name of item: Industrial building “Eclipse House” including interior
Other name/s: Australian Drop Forging Co, Perkins (Aust), Gordon Edgell & Sons, Websdale Printing, Envelope Manufacturer's, Jets
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Manufacturing and Processing
Category: Other - Manufacturing & Processing
Primary address: 8-22 Bowden Street, Alexandria, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
8-22 Bowden StreetAlexandriaSydney  Primary Address
10 Bowden StreetAlexandriaSydneyAlexandriaCumberlandAlternate Address

Statement of significance:

Constructed in approximately 1933 for the Australian Drop-Forging Co, the building represents the industrial development of Alexandria during the inter-war period. It provides evidence of the widespread steel manufacturing and engineering industry in Alexandria during the twentieth century.

The building demonstrates an example of the Art Deco inter-war style applied to an industrial building. This style emphasised geometric and semi-abstract decoration, and was adopted in Australia between approximately 1915 and 1940.

The building has significant associations with two important Australian companies including the Australian Drop Forging Company, a pioneer in the steel manufacturing industry in Australia, and Gordon Edgell & Sons, an important food manufacturer.

The building is of local heritage significance in terms of its historical, aesthetic, and representative value.
Date significance updated: 01 Aug 16
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: Unknown
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1933-1933
Physical description: A single-storey masonry building contained under a hipped and sawtooth roof. The office component is contained under a hipped roof along the street frontage, with an attached factory to the rear contained under five sawtooth roofs. The building is free standing on three sides and adjoins the neighbouring building on the north western side. Its principal elevation addresses Bowden Street and features simply detailed Art Deco style elements. The elevation is characterised by single or groups of three multi-paned steel framed windows with rendered sills. As detailed below, the entrance is offset and marked by a two storey tower element (stepped skyline or silhouette) with a wide horizontally-emphasised canopy supported on slender round steel posts.

The elevation is divided into three unequal sections, each with pitched roof clad in corrugated metal. The central section projects slightly forward of the wings to either side. The walls of the central section rise into a low parapet, which does not conceal the hipped roof. The location of the main doors is marked by a simply detailed skyline element defined by two circular columns at either side of the main entry. Stairs lead up either side of a raised entrance porch, which is covered by a flat masonry canopy with curved corners and horizontally grooved fascia detailing extends over part of the footpath. The masonry balustrade to the stairs forms a simple Art Deco style detail that screens the porch when it is viewed from front on from Bowden Street.

A later rendered and face brick addition is attached to the south eastern end of the original building. The front elevation of this addition is rendered and painted and has two roller door openings of different sizes and large vent openings.

The flat concrete roof form, which is used as a car park, is concealed from the street and accessed via one of the roller doors and a steep driveway. The free standing, south western elevation, is constructed of face brick and characterised by large openings with wired glass windows.

The sawtooth roofs of the brick and cement block factory to the rear are clad in corrugated metal sheet, with clear corrugated sheets at intervals for light, and metal-framed vents and later ventilation devices.

The rear elevation addresses Stokes Avenue and is screened by vegetation.

Category: Individual building. Style: Inter-war Art Deco. Storeys: 1. Façade: Rendered and painted masonry. Side/Rear Walls: Face brick. Roof Cladding: Corrugated metal/flat concrete
Modifications and dates: The south eastern end of the building, with the roof top car park, is a later addition to the original building (after 1951). Further alterations include new doors in the north western end of the building and new tiling to the front stairs.
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Warehouse, office
Former use: Manufacturing, printing, drop-forge


Historical notes: Early development of the locality:

This site forms part of the land of the Gadigal people, the traditional custodians of land within the City of Sydney council boundaries. For information about the Aboriginal history of the local area see the City’s Barani website:

The suburb of Alexandria was once part of a vast sand dune system covered by heath, low scrub, creeks and freshwater wetlands that dominated the landscape of the southern suburbs of Sydney. It provided a habitat for a range of fauna such as birds, fish and eels, and was a good food source for the Gadigal, the local Aboriginal people.

The land that today incorporates the areas of Alexandria, Waterloo, Zetland and Rosebery was originally one large estate. Originally granted to former convict and public servant William Hutchinson in 1823, the estate, its buildings and water mill, were then sold to Daniel Cooper and Solomon Levy in 1825 before Cooper became its sole owner in 1833.

For a large part of the nineteenth century, the area was semi-rural low-lying land with swamps. The principal activities were market gardening, dairying and wool-washing. A number of dams were built in this area, including the Little Waterloo Dam, the Big Waterloo Dam and the Upper Dam, as shown on 1885-1890 Higinbotham and Robinson maps of Alexandria and Waterloo.

Waterloo Council was formed in 1860. The municipality of Alexandria was separated from Waterloo and became the Borough of Alexandria in 1868. The area was connected to the city through a network of trams extending along Botany Road and Elizabeth Street.

The land of the Cooper Estate was progressively subdivided into small acreages and sold for residential purposes in 1872 and 1884 with the final sale taking place in 1914. The release of the Cooper Estate opened up large tracts of land for industrial uses at a time when surrounding areas had become more densely populated. This resulted in the relocation of many industrial establishments from Redfern and Surry Hills to the Alexandria and Waterloo area.

This intensive period of industrial development increased land value in the area and forced out all but a few of the remaining market gardeners. Fellmongering, tanning and wool-washing industries were typical of Alexandria. The wetlands of the area offered ideal features for these industries which needed to be located close to a plentiful water supply.

By 1943 an Alexandria Council celebratory publication claimed that Alexandria was the largest industrial municipality in Australia, proudly proclaiming that ‘an area of 1,024 acres has been crowded not less than 550 factories’ (Alexandria Municipal Council 1943, p78). Secondary industries declined in the area from the 1970s as industry expanded to the outer suburbs.

Site history:

Bowden Street was not listed in John Sands’ Directories until 1928, when the only listing was for O.T. Lempriere & Co smelting works. The subject site was initially part of the Cooper Estate and was conveyed from Cooper’s to the Australia Drop-Forging Company on 31 January 1933 for £1,125 (Conveyance, Book No. 1655 No. 661, NSW LPI Old Systems Title).

The Australian Drop-Forging Company had been formed in July 1930 as a manufacturing enterprise long identified with the motor industry. It was one of two subsidiaries (the other being Australian File Manufacturing Company). In 1930 the Sydney Morning Herald described the company as wholly Australian, manufacturing all classes of drop forging (SMH 24 July, 1930, p.7).

No early records of the Alexandria complex have survived, however an article reported in 1933 that a new factory building had been approved for the Australian Drop-Forging Company in Bowden Street, Alexandria, with an estimated construction cost of about £5,000 (‘Approved by Councils’, Sydney Morning Herald, 21 February, 1933). No information on the architect was provided. The company advertised some open positions in 1933 (Sydney Morning Herald, 17 June, 1933). By 1943, the building is shown on an aerial view within an established highly industrialised area.

In 1947, Australian Drop Forging Company became a subsidiary of John McGrath Limited. John McGrath took over the land and buildings owned by its subsidiaries (Certificate of Title Volume 5575 Folio 230. NSW LPI).

By 1957 Gordon Edgell & Sons Ltd food manufacturers acquired the property (Certificate of Title Volume 557 Folio 230, NSW LPI). Food was not processed at the subject site which was used by Edgell as a warehouse. In 1957, a proposal was submitted to Council to renovate, extend and use the premises as offices and warehouses (NSCA Item No. 835/57).

In 1964 Envelope Manufacturers Pty Ltd bought the subject property. In the same year, architects Hennessy and Hennessy proposed alterations and additions (NSCA Item No.72/64). Further applications for alterations were submitted in 1966 (NSCA, Item No. 2690/66).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Constructed in approximately 1933 for the Australian Drop-Forging Co, the building represents the industrial development of Alexandria during the inter-war period. It provides evidence of the widespread steel manufacturing and engineering industry in Alexandria during the twentieth century.

The building forms part of one of the largest known collections of industrial and warehouse buildings of its kind in Australia, which records City of Sydney’s past as one of only two historic industrial heartlands in Australia. This collection of buildings provides evidence of Australia’s twentieth century transformation through industrialisation when Sydney became one of the largest industrialised cities in the South Pacific.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building has significant associations with two important Australian companies: the Australian Drop-Forging Company, a pioneer in the steel manufacturing industry in Australia, and Gordon Edgell & Sons Ltd, an important food manufacturer.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building represents an example of the inter-war Art Deco style applied to an industrial building.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Social significance requires further study to ascertain its value for the local community. The building may have value to community members with an interest in the industrial history and inter-war architecture of Alexandria.
SHR Criteria g)
The building demonstrates the principal characteristics of an industrial building in the inter -war Art Deco style.
Integrity/Intactness: Bowden Street elevation has a high degree of integrity
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:

Retain and conserve the building, including its original and Art Deco decorative features. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. Archival photographic recording, in accordance with Heritage Council guidelines, should be undertaken before major changes. All conservation, adaptive reuse and future development should be undertaken in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter).


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I914 Dec 12   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study19936.16Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes
Section 170 Register Update2009 ARTC / ORH (Australian Rail Track Corporation/Office of Rail Heritage)City Plan Heritage & JCIS Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City View detail
WrittenCarolyn Allport Waterloo Urban History Project, unpublished
WrittenGordon Edgell & Sons Ltd1957Director’s Report for 1957
GraphicRTA1943Aerial Photographs of Sydney May-June 1943.
WrittenShirley Fitzgerald1992Sydney 1842-1992, Sydney, Hale and Iremonger
WrittenSydney Morning Herald1933Approved by Councils, 21 February 1933
WrittenSydney Morning Herald1930Companies to Tackle Steel Work, 24 July 1930
WrittenWeir Phillips2013Heritage Assessment

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: 2420366

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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