Former Csr Manager's House (79-85 Harris St) Inc Interiors and Grounds | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Former Csr Manager's House (79-85 Harris St) Inc Interiors and Grounds

Item details

Name of item: Former Csr Manager's House (79-85 Harris St) Inc Interiors and Grounds
Other name/s: Csr Hostel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: House
Primary address: 30-52 Mount Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
30-52 Mount StreetPyrmontSydney  Primary Address
79-85 Harris StreetPyrmontSydney  Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The former CSR Manager's House is historically significant for its lengthy association with the Pyrmont CSR plant. CSR was the biggest employer in the area for many years and the refinery was for a long time the centrepiece of CSR's massive sugar refining operations in Australia. The building is a good example of a Federation Queen Anne Style large domestic building and is a prominent building and a local landmark. It uses local sandstone for decorative effect and is probably the largest and most elaborate house built prior to World War Two surviving on the peninsula, providing dramatic contrasts with the terrace housing occupied by the refinery workers and others.
Date significance updated: 31 Mar 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: E Trenchard Smith
Construction years: 1909-1909
Physical description: The former CSR manager's house/hostel is a large 2 storey face brick Federation Queen Anne style house with a slate tile multi-gabled roof. It has rusticated ashlar local sandstone basement walls and similar sandstone archivolt to the semi-circular arch over the front entrance porch. It is asymmetric in plan, with a projecting gabled bay and two storey verandah bay to both the east and north frontages, the verandah returning around this corner. The verandah has paired timber posts and timber balustrades to both levels, with a matching valance between the two levels. The gable ends are half timbered and there is a prominent two level faceted bay window and tall chimneys.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building has been substantially renovated and is in good condition.
Date condition updated:31 Mar 06
Modifications and dates: The building has been converted to apartments.
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: Multi unit residential
Former use: Single residence


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

Pyrmont initially was isolated from the city and early development in the area was generally related to waterfront industries, such as shipyards. The establishment of the Australian Steam Navigation Company shipyard on Darling Island, plus several other industrial enterprises such as Charles Saunders' stone quarry, brought a residential population of workers, though anyone of means tended to travel to the area from somewhere more desirable and then the opening of the Pyrmont Bridge across Darling Harbour in the 1850s facilitated development in both industry and population. Several large businesses established in Pyrmont in the late nineteenth century, including the Colonial Sugar Refining Company (CSR) and the wool industry moved here from the 1880s. A new bridge in 1901, the opening of the power stations, Ultimo in 1899 and Pyrmont in 1904 and the extension of wharfage around the waterfront from Darling Harbour cemented the industrial character of the peninsula and it remained this way till after the end of World War Two. With only a few notable exceptions, though, residential development remained largely working class and in fact progressively reduced in size as the new industries demolished housing to accommodate larger premises.

After World War Two, though, most of the characterising industries either ceased operating or moved to other locations. Since the 1970s, redevelopment of the area has moved slowly, with numerous schemes and proposals. Many of the industrial buildings have been demolished or converted to other uses. CSR commenced operation at Pyrmont with the purchase of five acres of land on the western side of Pyrmont Point in 1875. In 1878, the refinery opened, having been built of locally quarried stone, with a capacity of 400 tons per week. Expansion of the plant continued and the company grew to be one of Australia's largest by the middle of the twentieth century. As it grew, it purchased more land around the original refinery and established ancillary product manufacturing plants, the two largest being for industrial alcohol (1901) and for caneite building materials (1938). A grand residence for the refinery manager was built in about 1909 on land purchased at Mount Street (though the building's address is now Harris Street).

By the 1920s, CSR had also purchased over twenty houses near the refinery and was using them for subsidised staff housing. This increased to about seventy houses in 1939 and the total land holdings had increased to thirty-one acres by 1957. By the 1960s, changed demographics and up to date plant brought a more mobile work face and, with little public transport to Pyrmont after the tram service closed, large blocks of housing were demolished to provide car parking space for refinery staff. By 1977, only thirty-three out of the 780 workers at Pyrmont were resident in Pyrmont. In the 1980s, CSR began investigating the benefits of relocating from Pyrmont and put this into effect in the early 1990s. By 1995, the Pyrmont refinery was closed and it was sold to the development company Lend Lease in 1996. CSR had for some time been the biggest employer in Pyrmont. The company is a major Australian commodity producer and the Pyrmont refinery had for many years been the centrepiece of the company's massive sugar production operations. The former CSR Hostel building, presently subdivided as apartments following a substantial renovation, was built c 1909 as a residence for the manager of the sugar refinery, to a design by architect E Trenchard Smith. It was later converted for use as a hostel for transient CSR employees and officers, then became flats for employees. In the early 1990s CSR sold the property and the house was renovated as part of a development which created several apartments in a new building along the Harris Street frontage.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Residential-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The building has historic significance as it dates from the key period of development of CSR in Pyrmont.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with CSR being originally constructed as a managers residence for the company.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building has aesthetic significance as a good example of Federation Queen Anne style and demonstrates many of the key aspects of the style.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
It is unlikely that the site would reveal further information that would contribute to the significance of the area.
SHR Criteria f)
The building is rare in Ultimo/Pyrmont.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a substantial Federation Queen Anne house usually found in the garden 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 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 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 2012I124114 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
WrittenAustralian Heritage Commission1998Register of the National Estate Database

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: 2424791

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