Mowbray House and 10m curtilage | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Mowbray House and 10m curtilage

Item details

Name of item: Mowbray House and 10m curtilage
Other name/s: Fmr Chatswood Prep. Schl; Sydney Elect. Northern Est. Depot; Mowbray House Schl
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Utilities - Electricity
Category: Other - Utilities - Electricity
Primary address: 339 Mowbray Road, Chatswood, NSW 2067
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Willoughby


Mowbray House (Building 10) & 10mtrs curtilage: "The listing of a site larger than the immediate curtilage of Mowbray House (building 10) need not compromise the operational use of the site nor preclude its redevelopment but it is important that the historic nature of the site boundaries is recognised in any future development. Mowbray House should be understood as a school building related to a larger institutional site and not seen in isolation. Any development of the larger site should be designed in sympathy with the scale and height of Mowbray House as recommended by Schwager Brooks (Schwager Brooks and Partners prepared a Heritage Assessment of the site in November 1995 for Sydney Electricity). We believe the zone to be kept clear of new buildings proposed by EJE Town Planning in their 1998 rezoning application is appropriate. (EJE Town Planning prepared a Statement of Heritage Impact in December 1998 for Energy Australia in this report they recommended a curtilage of 10m be maintained around Mowbray House." (Clive Lucas Stapleton and Partners Pty Ltd Architects and Heritage Consultants, July 2003)
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
339 Mowbray RoadChatswoodWilloughbyWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The Sydney Electricity Northern Establishment Depot site as a whole has historical and social significance for its history of use for educational, local government and regional authority occupants since 1874. Mowbray House has considerable aesthetic significance as an intact and pleasant example of an Arts and Crafts style building. It has historical significance as an important school building serving the community for over 50 years. It has associations with prominent former pupils e.g. Gough Whitlam. The group of former residential cottages have some architectural significance as typical modest Federation cottages but only Building 8 has sufficient significance and to merit listing as a heritage item.
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: Not known
Builder/Maker: Not known
Physical description: The site is roughly rectangular with frontages to Mowbray Road to the south and Nelson Street to the north. To the east is the North Shore rail line, and to the west is the Pacific Highway. There are currently ten buildings on the site (see site plan below): 1 Two-storey face brick and concrete occupational health facility, built c late 1950s. Aluminium framed windows. Steel roof. 2 Two-storey exposed steel-framed administration building, built c1970. Ground floor clad in brick, first floor in metal cladding and sun shading louvres. 3 Single-storey garage and workshop, built c1960. Rendered and face brick with a low-pitched metal roof, timber windows with wired glass. 4 Single-storey steel-framed industrial building, built c1960. Face brick; metal roller shutters. Large two-storey laboratory building with "H" shaped plan, built c late 1950s. Face brick; exposed concrete frame; aluminium windows and sun shading louvres; flat concrete roof. 6 Pair of semi-detached cottages, built c1910 to c1920, and with internal modifications for depot uses. Similar to 8 & 9. Federation cottage, c1910 to c1920, and with internal modifications for depot uses. Similar to 8 & 8 Federation bungalow, c1910 to c1920. Face brick; corrugated iron roof and veranda; casement windows with original joinery intact. 9 Pair of semi-detached bungalows, built c1910 to c1920, and with internal modifications for depot uses. Face brick; corrugated iron roofs and verandas; casement windows with original joinery intact. Mowbray House, two-storey brick building, built 1906 in Federation Arts and Crafts style with later c1917 ground floor addition and c1960s first floor addition and alterations. Face brick ground floor, painted roughcast stucco first floor and unusual chimneys; Marseilles tiled roof; original joinery intact.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The condition was described by Schwager Brooks and Partners, Nov 1995, Heritage Assessment, as: 1 Good 2 Good 3 Good 4 Good 5 Very good 6 Fair 7 Good 8 Fair to good 9 Good Mowbray House: very good to excellent.

Archaeological Potential: Some potential. Further research needed prior to development of the site.
Modifications and dates: Many alterations 1957-1970s
Current use: Depot for Sydney Electricity
Former use: North Willoughby School of Arts and Mechanics Institute (1875); Council Chambers (1877-1903); School (1906-1954)


Historical notes: The site is part of an early land grant by Macquarie to William Gore in 1810. By the mid-nineteenth century, it was part of the "Bryson" estate owned by John Bryson, an early prominent resident and local councillor. A sandstone School of Arts was built on the site and opened in 1874. It was rented by the Municipal Council as a meeting hall in 1878 and later purchased in 1879. Sir Henry Parkes preached federation to local residents in this hall during the 1890s. Bryson's estate was subdivided and sold in 1882, largely forming the present site. In 1906 the former School of Arts building was rented by Lancelot Bavin to become the Chatswood Preparatory School. At the end of the first year, Bavin bought the former School of Arts building and built a second two-storey building on the corner of Mowbray Road and then Devonshire Street to serve as a boarding house, and called the "Main House", later "Mowbray House". The school grew in size. From an initial 17 day boys, it grew to a total number of 147 students in 1917, 140 of whom were boarders. More buildings were built, including a cottage for the master and a dining hall adjoining Mowbray House. By 1920 the site contained many buildings including a chapel attached to the former School of Arts building, a recreation hall, tennis courts, classrooms, more accommodation for boarders and a masters cottage. In the 1920s the school expanded to include intermediate-level tuition and became known as the Mowbray House School. In 1954 the school closed and was sold to the Sydney County Council for its Northern Administrative Headquarters. Sydney Council demolished many of the school buildings to accommodate administration offices. Public protests over the possible demolition of the former School of Arts building and chapel led to its being dismantled and re-erected on Beaconsfield Road in 1957. Further land was acquired, including Federation cottages along Bryson Street which were converted to office use, and modifications and additions were made to the existing school buildings. Mowbray House was converted to offices. Depot Building 1 was built in 1961, and further additions made to Mowbray House in 1965 and 1966. Mowbray House was extensively restored in 1977.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Electricity-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. Education-
6. Educating-Educating Education-Activities associated with teaching and learning by children and adults, formally and informally. Adult Education-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administering local government-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site formerly housed a School of Arts and Mechanics Institute and has historical associations with the late nineteenth century social movement towards universal education. Mowbray House was an important school facility to the local community for over 50 years. The site, near the intersection of Mowbray Road and Lane Cove Road, was the commercial and administrative centre of the suburb before the railway line was built in 1890s and local focus shifted to Chatswood Station.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The former school has associations with former pupils who have later gained prominence, such as Edward Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister 1972-1975.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Mowbray House is a good representative example of a Federation Arts and Crafts building including rough-cast plaster, brick quoins, decorative plaster ornamentation, bracketed eaves and interesting chimney details. The other Federation cottages on the site provide a residential scale to what is now an industrial site and relate the site to the surrounding residential streets. The site contains stands of mature native and exotic trees.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site has social significance for former pupils and staff of the school. The site has social significance as a former local council chambers.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Mowbray House has the ability to demonstrate Edwardian building techniques and contains unusual footings.
SHR Criteria g)
Mowbray House is a good representative example of a Federation Arts and Crafts style school building. The cottages (Buildings 6,7,8,9) are representative examples of modest Federation single and semi-detached cottages.
Integrity/Intactness: Mowbray House has a high level of integrity.
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.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWLEP 2012I9631 Jan 13   
Local Environmental PlanWLEP 1995, Schedule 7Amendment 5625 May 07 702996

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Willoughby Heritage Heritage Review 200120012Clive Lucas StapletonSean Johnson & Jacqueline Connor Yes
Willoughby Heritage Study1989359Jonathon Falk & Rodney Jensen  No
Sydney Electricity S170 Heritage & Conservation Register1994PMIS 3821Schwager Brooks & Partners Pty Ltd  No
EnergyAustralia Heritage Register Review2007 MacLaren NorthM North Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1995 

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: 2660003

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