Former Csr Cooperage Building Including Interiors and Industrial Archaeology | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former Csr Cooperage Building Including Interiors and Industrial Archaeology

Item details

Name of item: Former Csr Cooperage Building Including Interiors and Industrial Archaeology
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Manufacturing and Processing
Category: Factory/ Plant
Primary address: 56 Bowman Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
56 Bowman StreetPyrmontSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The building dates from one of the key period of expansion for the development of the CSR site in Pyrmont. It is a good example of an early 20th century purpose designed industrial building which makes a positive contribution to the streetscape.

The Cooperage is one of the few examples of a factory for the manufacture of wooden barrels which were essential for the transport of liquid goods until the middle of the 20th century.
Date significance updated: 11 Aug 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.


Construction years: 1901-1901
Physical description: The building is 4 storeys in height and loacted at the top of a cliff face above the former bulk sugar stores. It is constructed of face brickwork on 3 sides with engaged piers with the 4th side is clad in corrugated metal sheeting and windows. Each bay originally featured a single timber framed double hung window with colonial style cross bars but many of the window openings have since been altered particularly at ground floor level. The simple gabled roof form is also clad in corrugated metal sheeting. The interior features timber floors supported by heavy timber beams and columns.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition with a high degree of original fabric intact and recently restored.
Date condition updated:11 Aug 06
Modifications and dates: The building was recently adaptively converted to commercial office space.
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.
Former use: Industrial


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 )

The first land grants were made in 1794 to John Malone (24 acres) and William Mitchell (18 acres) and in 1795 to Thomas Jones (55 acres). John Macarthur acquired the portion originally granted to Thomas Jones in 1799 and this eventually became the Pyrmont Estate but remained largely undeveloped. The area was named in 1806 after a popular German spa near Hanover. Following Macarthur’s death in 1834, the first plans for subdivision were proposed by his son Edward in London 1836. These were deemed unsuitable and a second plan of 101 lots was devised in 1839. By 1843, most lots south of John Street and some to the north had been sold or leased and developed for residential use. John William Russell, a Sydney shipbuilder, purchased 2 lots fronting Pyrmont Bay and constructed a shipyard, and similarly shipbuilder Thomas Chowne leased lots fronting Johnstons Bay. In 1844 Pyrmont was incorporated into the City of Sydney and the early 1850’s saw a number of major developments in Pyrmont and also in Ultimo to a lesser extent.

In 1853, the Sydney Railway Company resumed 14½ acres of the Ultimo Estate for a railway line to and with a terminus at Darling Harbour. Also in 1853 Charles Saunders purchased land from the Harris family for a sandstone quarry on the northwest side of the peninsula. This developed into a substantial operation including a causeway to Darling Island and supplying stone for the construction of a number of major buildings in Sydney including the University of Sydney, Colonial Secretary’s Building, Lands Department, General Post Office, and other buildings in Melbourne, New Zealand, Fiji and Canada. Other industries established in the area at the time included an iron foundry. The first Pyrmont Bridge c1858 (a timber toll bridge from Market Street) stimulated further development in the area. The first school in the area located in Mount Street was opened in 1858 and around the same time a Police Station, Presbyterian and Catholic Churches were established. A bridge was constructed in from Pyrmont to Glebe across Johnstons Bay c1860.There was significant industrial growth in the area in the 1870’s including the City Iron Works and the Colonial Sugar Refinery Company (CSR) in 1878. By the early 1880’s Union Square was established as a commercial centre and by 1900 most residential development had ceased by which time the Pyrmont and Ultimo Power Houses had opened and the new Pyrmont Bridge had been constructed. Most development in the 20th century was commercial and industrial and included additional woolstores, Pyrmont Incinerator (1934) , flour mills (1940), additional power stations (1955) and the Government Printing Office (1960’s).

The Colonial Sugar Refinery (CSR) was established in January 1855. Its refinery operations commenced in Sydney during that year using the former Brisbane Distillery in Chippendale. In 1870 the company established ist first sugar mills on the Macleay and Clarence Rivers in northern NSW, and then expanded into Queensland and Fiji in 1881. The Melbourne refinery was built in 1874 and others followed in Auckland (1883). Adelaide (1891) and Brisbane (1893). By 1900 CSR had extablished a near monopoly on the Australasian sugar market with 5 refineries and 13 raw sugar mills. In the first decade of the 20th century a distillery on land across the road from Jones Street was constructed to produce the industrial alcohol and rum. The first stage began in 1901. At this time the Cooperage was built to house the products and maintain the timber barrels that the rum was packed and stored. It was built in anticipation of an expanded export market for rum and alcohol products due to the exclusion of spirits manufacture at the Company's Distillery in Fiji.

The building has recently been converted to commercial offices as part of the Jacksons Landing Development.

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)-
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]
The building has historic significance as it dates from the key period of development of CSR and demonstrates the manufacturing of Australian sugar products which was of National signifucance in the development of Australia.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with CSR and the devlopment of the sugar industry in Australia.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building has aesthetic significance as a good example of an early 20th century Federation industrial building which demonstrates many of the key aspects of the style.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is not rare.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a Federation industrial building found in Ultimo/Pyrmont and the inner suburbs of Sydney.
Integrity/Intactness: High externally
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:

The building should be retained and conserved. A 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 façade 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 2012I120714 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Pyrmont/Ultimo Heritage Study1990 Anglin Associates  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenDepartment of Environment & Heritage1998Australian Heritage Database
WrittenOrwell & Peter Phillips1999Conservation Management Plan

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: 2424788

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.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.