Former Warehouse Facades "Mark Foys" | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former Warehouse Facades "Mark Foys"

Item details

Name of item: Former Warehouse Facades "Mark Foys"
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Warehouse/storage area
Location: Lat: -33.8804215195281 Long: 151.210159951672
Primary address: 133 Goulburn Street, Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
133 Goulburn StreetSurry HillsSydney  Primary Address
52-68 Commonwealth StreetSurry HillsSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The former Mark Foy's warehouse, 52-68 Commonwealth Street, is historically significant for its associations with the Mark Foy's retailing empire as a representative example of the commercial development and warehouse character of this area in the years of World War 1. It is also representative of the work of a respected firm of early 20th-century Sydney architects Spain Cosh & Dods. Although now compromised by the loss of its upper storey and most of its internal structure, it has aesthetic value by virtue of its dominant scale in the streetscape of Wentworth Avenue and a form that evokes the character and use of the area.
Date significance updated: 30 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: Spain, Cosh & Dods
Builder/Maker: Not known
Construction years: 1920-1921
Physical description: The building is a large freestanding brick rectangular structure, originally of six storeys, addressing Goulburn, Brisbane and Commonwealth Streets and a narrow lane to the south. It was designed in the office of Spain, Cosh & Dods in 1917, though not built until 3 years later. The architectural style is Federation Warehouse, though it is now depleted. The original structure comprised brick piers and timber posts, with timber girders and floor joists. This original internal structure was replaced with a concrete and steet structure between 1997 and 1999. As part of these works, the upper exterior façade was altered and the additional storeys were added. The exterior has splayed corners and an ensemble of substantial piers, facetted at the corners and in the main bays, and plain between. Industrial windows have rendered concrete lintels and brick sills. Category:Facades (partly altered and removed). Style:Federation Warehouse. Storeys:originally 6, extended. Façade:Face brickwork. General Details:Refer to Archaeological Zoning Plan.

This area was the location of a large number of warehouses and factories and many of these survive, some apparently in good exterior condition. Much conversion of old building stock into residential accommodation, some awaiting re-use, as well as several large new blocks, can be seen in the vicinity. Also nearby is the Macquarie Hotel and the former Griffiths Tea building.
Category:Facades (partly altered and removed).
Style:Federation Warehouse.
Storeys:6 originally. Extended 1997-1999.
Façade:Face brickwork.
Sprinkler System:Yes.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Remaining original structure modified but in good condition as at February 2008.
Date condition updated:25 Feb 08
Modifications and dates: 1921, 1997-1999
Further information: Was a heritage item in 1989, listing revoked under LEP 1992-conservation of heritage items. The street facades were listed on Schedule 2 of the Heritage LEP 2000, and are now listed in Sydney LEP 2005, Schedule 8 Central Sydney Heritage Items, Part 2: Building Elements.

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: Residential units
Former use: Warehouse


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. .

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

Mark Foy's Ltd. commenced retail operations in Oxford Street in 1885, moving lo Liverpool Street in 1908 or 1909. The company also had bulk stores and workshops in which to manufacture many of the goods sold in the store. This one, known as the Knitting Factory and Bulk Store, was constructed during 1920-21. A brick factory with a flat roof, of six unsegmented floors, it was constructed on land leased from the City Council after the Council's 'slum' clearance programme. Although architectural drawings were prepared in 1917 construction did not begin until 1920. The architects were Spain Cosh & Dods. The building has had a variety of tenants. A strong room on the ground floor may have been for the branch of the Bank of Australasia which was there for thirty years. Paramount Shirts Pty Ltd occupied the greater part of the building for storage, production, sales and administration. Others, since the 1950s, included Oswald Sealy Pty Ltd, Bestknit Lingerie, Waltons Holdings and the Lex Collection Agency. The first floor was extensively remodelled c1970 for new offices. Ownership of the building changed from Mark Foy's to McDowells Ltd in 1968 then to Waltons Ltd in 1972. At the termination of the lease in July 1978 the building was purchased by the Electricity Commission which occupied one floor. In 1990 the building was vacant and all office partitions and machinery had been removed. Kengfu Properties bought the building in 1992. A development application for conversion to residential use and the addition of further floors was approved in 1994. Demolition was associated with the conversion, and commenced shortly afterwards.

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 (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building is associated with the Mark Foy's retailing empire which established its major store nearby. It represents the commercial development of this area of the city in the years following the formation of Wentworth Avenue after World War 1..
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
It is representative of the work of a prominent firm of architects Spain Cosh & Dods.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Has aesthetic significance locally. It is a building whose principal aesthetic values are its dominant scale in the streetscapes of Commonwealth Street and Wentworth Avenue and a form that evokes the historic character and use of the area.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of the type of development that occurred in this area following World War 1, in terms of both use design. It is also representative of the work of the firm of architects Spain Cosh & Dods.
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 general scale and streetscape appearance of the former Mark Foy's Warehouse should be retained. Any vertical extension of the surviving facades should be undertaken in a 'traditional' manner and respect the original form and architecture of the building and the scale of the streetscape. The existing conservation plan should be upgraded and used to guide the future use and maintenance of the place. Exterior: Original facade elements, including brickwork stucco detailing and windows should be conserved with little or no alteration. Future alterations and/or adaptation should respect the relatively plain, utilitarian character of the original building. The facade brickwork should not be painted. Interior: Any further adaptation of the interior volume should not detract from the external appearance of the building. 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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I155414 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1923`Mark Foys Ltd. ` The Journal of the Retail Trader's Association of N.S.W. October 1923;
Written  City of Sydney Council Street Cards;
Written  Sands Directories,
Written  City of Sydney Council Assessment Books;
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenRod Howard1993Conservation plan for Mark Foy's Limited factory, Goulburn & Commonwealth Streets, Sydney

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: 2424311

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