Former Sussex Street Public School Including Grounds, Fence and Interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Former Sussex Street Public School Including Grounds, Fence and Interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former Sussex Street Public School Including Grounds, Fence and Interiors
Other name/s: Sussex Street Technical College
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Education
Category: School - State (public)
Location: Lat: -33.8766984976975 Long: 151.203469609822
Primary address: 320-334 Sussex Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
320-334 Sussex StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Sussex Street Technical College is aesthetically significant as a very good example of Victorian institutional architecture using standard materials and detailing to produce an effective and imposing educational building. It is a fine example of the school architecture of George Allen Mansfield. The building is the only surviving former government school in the central business district of Sydney, and would have been a focus for the residential community which predated the extensive construction of warehouses in the western precinct of Sydney.
Date significance updated: 12 Jan 06
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: G A Mansfield
Builder/Maker: H Cross (masonry); E Elphinstone (carpentry)
Construction years: 1875-1876
Physical description: The Sussex Street Technical College, a former Victorian school building, is T-shaped in plan facing Sussex Street. The building is face brick with sandstone trim (string courses, sills, corbels), set on sandstone foundations. It is designed in severe institutional Gothic revival style, with decorative brickwork, gabled windows projecting into the roof and verandah valance of timber fretwork. The main gable features a group of three windows recessed in brickwork contained under a lancet arch. Inside are a series of large teaching spaces with exposed trusses. Category:Individual building. Style:Victorian Free Gothic. Storeys:2. Facade:Face brick and sandstone. Side/Rear Walls:Face brick and sandstone. Internal Walls:Plastered brick. Roof Cladding:Corrugated steel. Internal Structure:Loadbearing walls & timber beams. Floor:Timber joists & boards. Roof:Timber trusses. Ceilings:Boarded timber ; Lath & plaster. Lifts:Nil. General Details:Refer to Archaeological Zoning Plan.
Modifications and dates: 1875-1876
Further information: High Significance:Original fabric including brickwork, fenestration, timber, verandah paving, timber trusses, interior finishes. Low Significance:Suspended light fittings.

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: Other
Former use: School


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 )

Following the introduction of the Public Schools Act in 1866 many private schools were partially thrown on their own resources. This resulted in an overall drop in the number of private schools throughout the state and an increase in the number of government schools.

The Sussex Street Technical College was originally built as a public school by the NSW Department of Education in 1875-76. The building was designed by G A Mansfield and is representative of his educational work. The building now houses the Flying Angel Seafarers Centre.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building demonstrates the importance placed on education in Victorian Sydney, provides evidence of the former residential makeup of central Sydney and is associated with a number of prominent people including George A Mansfield.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Has aesthetic significance at a State level. Cultural:The former school building is an excellent example of the Victorian Free Gothic style applied to educational architecture.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is the only surviving former government school in the central business district of Sydney, and would have been a focus for the residential community which predated the extensive construction of warehouses in the western precinct of Sydney. Has social significance locally.The former school building is an excellent example of the Victorian Free Gothic style applied to educational architecture.
SHR Criteria f)
The school is a rare example of a government school surviving in Sydney CBD, and is evidence of the former residential makeup of the city.
SHR Criteria g)
The school is representative of the buildings designed by G A Mansfield for the Department of Education, and is an excellent example of the Victorian Free Gothic style.
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 school should be conserved largely in its existing form and scale. A conservation plan should be prepared prior to any major changes to the place. Features of high significance should be conserved, and those which have been damaged or concealed by later work should be restored or reconstructed. Surfaces never intended for painting, notably face brickwork and sandstone should remain unpainted, while surfaces such as stucco and timber which were originally painted should continue to be painted in appropriate colours. Exterior: The building should remain largely unaltered externally. Minor modifications to the building could be contemplated provided that no further loss of original fabric is entailed. If necessary, a small extension could be constructed at the rear. Original exterior features including the slate roof and iron cresting should be reinstated at some future date. Interior: The interiors could be subject to some alteration in the future to assist the continuing use of the place for educational purposes, provided that surviving significant fabric is preserved. Major classroom spaces could if necessary be subdivided in a reversible way which allows the original configuration to be seen and appreciated. 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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I196514 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written  National Trust Listing
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenJohn Johns1991Conservation plan : Sussex Street Public School 1875
WrittenNew South Wales Government1907Cyclopaedia of New South Wales.

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2424141

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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