Metropolitan Fire Brigade Building Including Interior and Central Yard | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Metropolitan Fire Brigade Building Including Interior and Central Yard

Item details

Name of item: Metropolitan Fire Brigade Building Including Interior and Central Yard
Other name/s: Fire Brigade Headquarters
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Fire Control
Category: Fire Station
Location: Lat: -33.8766855960867 Long: 151.207510865483
Primary address: 211-217 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
211-217 Castlereagh StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The Fire Brigade Headquarters is a four storey brick and stucco building constructed in the Victorian Free Classical style featuring Italianate motifs. The building demonstrates the growth of the Fire Brigade from a Metropolitan force to a Statewide body and provides evidence of the progressive development of the Brigade in both operations and responsibilities. It has a prominent Castlereagh Street address and is significant as a well known item of continuing public interest, having been in use for more than a century as the Central Sydney Fire Station, and for much of this time as the Brigades administrative headquarters. The building features state-of-the-art fire fighting technology of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is architecturally significant as the only Fire Station constructed in Victorian Free Classical style in the city, and as example of the work of colonial architect James Barnet. It is one of only six comparable buildings designed by Barnet. The building has been heavily modified internally however it remains largely intact externally, and compares to Trades Hall although its facade is less significant. It is also significant for its association with architects Spain, Cosh and Minett.
Date significance updated: 30 Dec 05
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

Designer/Maker: James Barnet; Spain, Cosh and Minett
Builder/Maker: John Baldwin; R. Wall and Sons
Construction years: 1887-1887
Physical description: The Fire Brigade Headquarters constructed in the Victorian Free Classical style with Italianate features includes the original 1887 building and 1912 extension. The building is located on a site extending from Castlereagh Street to Bathurst street. A former control building also occupies the site, a garage and former electrical workshops have since been demolished. The 1887 four storey facade features a rendered, banded base with arched openings detailed with carved keystones. The red face brick of the upper levels feature sandstone segmented arches and pediments. Rendered pilasters extend from ground level to a rendered frieze, cornice and parapet which bear the name and date of the building. The 1912 extension reproduces the style and detail of the existing building. Internally the ground floor truck bays and offices feature distinctive tiled wall surfaces and fine timber joinery. The upper levels have been altered and modified with obvious adhoc additions. Category:Group of buildings. Style:Victorian Free Classical. Storeys:4 + roof structures and basement. Facade:Face brick.. Side/Rear Walls:Rendered masonry.. Internal Walls:Rendered brick and plastered brick. Roof Cladding:Terra cotta tile, steel sheeting.. Internal Structure:Loadbearing walls & timber beams. Floor:Rein. conc. slab.(ground floor), timber joists & boards. Roof:Timber framing.. Ceilings:Decorative plaster, pressed metal, acoustic tiles.. Stairs:3 sets of timber stairs. Fire Stairs:External steel stairs. Sprinkler System:Yes. Lifts:1 located in the 1912 extension. General Details:Generally the front facade is in good condition and the building is structurally sound. The rear of the building is in poor condition. The various adhoc additions and alterations to the building fabric have caused problems and extensive water damage internally..
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Intrusive Elements:Steel framed structure located to the south of the building. Additions to the rear of the building, enclosed walkways and passageways. AirConditioned:Yes FireStairs:External steel stairs
Date condition updated:05 Dec 05
Modifications and dates: 1887; 1912 extension
Further information: High Significance:The Castlereagh Street facade and ornamentation including carved keystones, wrought iron bracket over central bay, detailed frieze, and engine bay doors. Layout, planning and detailing of the ground floor engine bays, offices and connecting areas, elements such as wall tiling, plaques, joinery, stairs and terrazzo flooring. Original and early equipment. Medium Significance:Roof top laundries, and upper floors. Low Significance:Roof top addition.Comments:was heritage item in 1989 and remains so to the present.

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: Fire Station
Former use: Fire Station

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.

(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani )

After considerable deliberation the government decided on No. 217 Castlereagh Street for the Fire Brigade Headquarters. The site had previously been occupied by the Royal Standard Hotel (since 1876), which was owned by CJ Royle. Shortly after the purchase of the site the Colonial Architects office under the supervision of James Barnet was commissioned to draw up the plans. The building was not constructed to Barnet's original design as a consequence of his absence during construction and problems associated with the supply of government funds. In addition the dissolution and change in Government postponed completion of the building. The building was finally completed in 1888 and consisted four storeys, a basement and roofdeck. The planning of the station was considered innovative for its time incorporating overseas experience and practical design advice from the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade. The ground floor of the building contained the engine room with the upper stories mainly providing residential accommodation for the men (and their families) required to operate the station. A metal framed timber tower was erected over the northern stairwell to serve as a watch tower, manned from sunset till 6 am. The tower was a reduced version of Barnet's original design and did not match the substantial nature of the proposed tower, it was removed in 1928. An extension to the building was carried out in 1912 to provide more space. Designed by the firm Spain, Cosh and Minett, it was intended to double the capacity of the 1887 building. The ground and first floor level were initially used for administrative purposes and the second and third level residential accommodation. In 1928 the motorised fleet of fire trucks required the ground floor to be converted into two new engine bays and the Boardroom and offices were relocated to the first floor level. No. 211 was purchased in 1923 and modified to provide further accommodation and facilities.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building demonstrates the growth of the Fire Brigade from a Metropolitan force to a Statewide body and provides evidence of the progressive development of the Brigade in both operations and responsibilities. Has historic significance at a State level.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The fabric, design and layout of the building provide evidence of the state-of-the-art fire fighting technology of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly the dependency on the efficient deployment of horse drawn fire vehicles. Has aesthetic significance locally. Cultural:It is a largely intact example of the work of colonial architect James Barnet and demonstrates his combined usage of classical styles with innovative design in public buildings. It is constructed in the Victorian Free Classical style featuring Italianate motifs, and has a prominent Castlereagh Street address. Its association with Spain, Cosh and Minett is also significant.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building has been in use for more than a century as the Central Sydney Fire Station, and for much of this time as the Brigades administrative headquarters. It is a well known item of continuing public interest. Has social significance locally.It is a largely intact example of the work of colonial architect James Barnet and demonstrates his combined usage of classical styles with innovative design in public buildings. It is constructed in the Victorian Free Classical style featuring Italianate motifs, and has a prominent Castlereagh Street address. Its association with Spain, Cosh and Minett is also significant.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The building is a rare example of Victorian Industrial building incorporating innovative international planning techniques and technology in fire station design from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
It is a fine working example of a fire station in the Victorian Free Classical style dating from the late 1880s, and displays an evolutionary process of fire station design into the early years of the twentieth century.
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:

General: The form and scale of the main building, and former control building should be preserved. Any future work should be in accordance with the existing Conservation Plan, updated as necessary prior to any development proposal. Any new work and maintenance programmes should seek to preserve and enhance surviving significant original fabric. Surfaces such as the face brickwork and sandstone which have never been painted should remain unpainted. Exterior: Pre-1913 external fabric and detail of the main building, former control building and surrounding areas should be retained. Significant features such as the carved keystones, wrought iron bracket over central bay, detailed frieze, engine bay doors and the original joinery and windows between the engine bays and the ground floor offices should be preserved. Damaged sandstone and other significant materials should be treated appropriately, and restored or reconstructed. As the exterior of the buildings are intact there should be no work which enlarges or encloses window and door openings. Intrusive elements such as the steel framed structure located to the south of the building, and enclosed walkways and passageways, should be removed. Interior: The internal form, detailing and scale of the ground floor, connecting spaces and concrete structure should be preserved. In particular, significant features such as the vaulted ceilings of the engine bays, the decorative wall tiles to dado height, the building dedication plaque, the original joinery, the staircases and stairwells and the terrazzo flooring in the 1912 extension should be retained and conserved. The upper floors are generally of lesser significance as they have been successively altered and changed, therefore proposals for alterations to these areas could be considered provided they do not adversely impact on the external fabric or significant features. The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the fa├žade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I170314 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenGodden Mackay1993 
WrittenGodden Mackay Pty Ltd1990 "The Headquarters Fire Station Conservation Plan"
WrittenGraham Brooks1998 
WrittenGraham Brooks1996 
WrittenJBA & Berkhout1999Heritage Impact Assessment
WrittenWendy Thorp1995 
WrittenWendy Thorp1991 
WrittenWendy Thorp1990 

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: 2424090


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