Luna Park - Entrance Face and Towers | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Luna Park - Entrance Face and Towers

Item details

Name of item: Luna Park - Entrance Face and Towers
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Recreation and Entertainment
Category: Funfair
Location: Lat: 33'50S Long: 151'12E
Primary address: 1 Olympic Drive, Milsons Point, NSW 2061
Parish: Willoughby
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: North Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1 Olympic DriveMilsons PointNorth SydneyWilloughbyCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney Harbour Foreshore AuthorityState Government 

Statement of significance:

Luna Park Reserve is a place of outstanding cultural significance which, during its history, has had a major impact on millions of Sydneysiders; initially as a centre of early settlement, later as a major transport interchange, contributor to the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and, more particularly, as Sydney's Luna Park.

Luna Park is one of Sydney Harbour's major landmarks, in juxtaposition with the nearby Harbour Bridge and Opera House and is one of the city's icons. The smiling face and the towers of the entrance form a dramatic and conspicuous feature of the waterfront, complemented by the exotic exteriors of Coney Island and The Crystal Palace. It is also a rare surviving example of an amusement park and fantasy architecture in the Art Deco idiom of the 1930s. The significant trees above the cliff face form an appropriate backdrop to the park.

Luna Park is a great and rare surviving example of an amusement park and fantasy architecture in the art-deco idiom of the 1930s. It is a major harbour icon, whose 'urban frivolity' is juxtaposed with the more serious forms of the adjacent Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

Physical and visual evidence survives from most of the major phases of use, and activities undertaken within the area. An evaluation of the remaining fabric allows an understanding of the site and its history. The evidence is enhanced by an extensive collection of graphic and written documentary sources.

Luna Park Reserve has played a major role in the development of the North Shore, but now provides a contrasting, less intensively developed, perimeter to the North Sydney Central Business District. It is a vital component in several vistas from vantage points such as city buildings, Millers Point, Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House and other places on the southern harbour shore.

Luna Park Reserve represents the collective childhood of Sydney. Important to many generations of visitors, it is now symbolic of community concern about issues that transcend the site itself, including: harbour foreshore conservation, recreation, high-rise development and ownership of the public estate.

Luna Park Reserve has high scientific value as a resource which is likely to yield information through archaeological research.

Entrance Face and Towers:
The entrance towers and face are a dramatic and conspicuous 'front door' symbol of Luna Park and continues to be one of the most recognisable icons of Sydney's history.

The towers, more than any other feature of the park, epitomised the then fashionable Art Deco style of architecture, emphasised by the innovative and exciting lighting effects.

The face and towers make an important impact on the harbour landscape, especially when viewed from Sydney Cove and the Opera House.

They have an important axial relationship with the western towers and dome of Coney Island, at the northern end of the park.
Date significance updated: 02 Dec 04
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.

Description

Construction years: 1935-1995
Physical description: Entrance Face & Towers: The first entrance to Luna Park was constructed in 1935 to a design by Rupert Browne, based on his entrance to Melbourne's Luna Park at St Kilda. It consisted of two towers with an immense face between them, and people entered through the gaping mouth. The face has been remodelled several times and its character has evolved over the years. Exposed to salt air, the entrance face has required major maintenance work. Each time this has been carried out (in 1939, 1947, 1953, 1960, 1973 and 1982) the facial expression has altered. The whole entrance was demolished in 1988. The face (1982) was initially stored on site, but is now in the Powerhouse Museum. The present entrance face and towers were completed in January 1995. The 36m high towers are replicas of the original 1935 Art Deco design. The expression of the present face is based on the most famous and most cherished of all Luna Park faces; the 1953 face designed by Arthur Barton. The towers are constructed of steel frames, clad in fibre cement sheets, on brick bases and are replicas of the original Art Deco 1935 towers (based on the Chrysler Building in New York). The face is made of fibreglass and foam (AHC Database Number: 017945, File Number: 1/13/027/0050).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Archaeological monitoring of Luna Park site was undertaken in c1993 during redevelopment (Edward Higginbotham 1993). Conservation and construction works were undertaken in 1993-1994 (Godden Mackay 1992, 1999).
Date condition updated:02 Dec 04
Modifications and dates: Exposed to salt air, the entrance face has required major maintenance work. Each time this has been carried out (in 1939, 1947, 1953, 1960, 1973 and 1982) the facial expression has altered. The whole entrance was demolished in 1988. The present entrance face was constructed in 1995, to the 1953 design and the towers are replicas of the original 1935 Art Deco design.
Current use: Amusement park entrance
Former use: Amusement Park entrance

History

Historical notes: Prior to European settlement of Australia and well into the 19th century, the site of Luna Park was occupied by the Cammeraigal (also spelt as Cammeraygal) Clan, part of the larger Kuringgai Tribe (North Sydney Council Heritage Leaflet 1, 2001, DUAP/DLWC 1998, Appendix 1: 1).

In 1805, Robert Campbell purchased a parcel of land on the waterfront of the North Shore, between Lavender Bay and Careening Bay, and extending about 600 yards inland, that comprised Milsons Point and the future site of Luna Park. 'It was a block of 120 acres which had been an original grant to Robert Ryan, a private solder who had arrived in the First Fleet and had passed via Charles Grimes, the surveyor-general, to its new owner'. James Milson settled there in 1806 'where by the grace of Robert Campbell, he grazed his herd and built his house'. From 1822 onwards, Milson signed a lease for this land, paying 8 pounds per year but later disputed Campbell's claim to it. Although another 12 year lease was signed in 1830, Campbell eventually sued Milson for trespass. No part of this grant passed into the hands of Milson 'until well after the death of Campbell' (in 1846) (Newman 1961: 39, 154-155).

In 1830, Jamaican ex-convict Billy Blue commenced the first ferry service across Sydney Harbour. Seven years later, a regular wharf and waterman's service was operating from the Luna Park site. In 1842, Milsons Point was declared a public landing place, and by 1860, a regular vehicular ferry service was operating between Milsons Point and Fort Macquarie. In 1886 a tram service commenced between Milsons Point and the newly constructed terminus at North Sydney. In 1890, the North Shore Railway Line was opened between Hornsby and St. Leonards. Three years later, the Luna Park site was quarried to prepare for the construction of the North Shore Railway Line which followed the shoreline of Lavender Bay. A train stop was located at Lavender Bay/Milsons Point, which was briefly relocated 500m north in 1915 in order to release the area for a proposed bridge across the harbour (Daily Telegraph 22 June 1922: 1, 4). A tram, train and ferry interchange was constructed at Milsons Point in 1893 (DUAP/DLWC 1998, Appendix 1: 3-4).

In 1916, a plan for a bridge across Sydney Harbour was accepted by the Parliamentary Works Committee. The tender for the construction of the new bridge was awarded to English engineering firm, Dorman Long and Company in 1924. Work began on the Bridge the following year. Dorman Long built a number of workshops on the Luna Park site for the fabrication and assembly of steel plates used in construction of the Bridge, as per the conditions of their contract. Around this time, the Lavender Bay/Milsons Point Railway Station was moved further north (to the site of the station constructed in 1915). The Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened in 1932, which meant that Lavender Bay/Milsons Point station and the use of vehicular ferries made were made redundant.

The first 'Luna Park' was opened at Coney Island in New York in 1893. The first Luna Park in Australia opened at St Kilda, Melbourne, in 1912, followed by another at Glenelg (South Australia) in 1930 to a design by Rupert Browne. Luna Park, Glenelg, was owned and managed by the Phillips brothers: Herman, Leon and Harold. When the South Australian venture failed in 1934, the Phillips looked for a suitable location in Sydney. At the same time, tenders were sought to use the former Dorman Long site for public amusements. The tender was won by Herman Phillips, who formed Luna Park (NSW) Ltd (with his brothers and A. A. Abrahams). The lease was for 20 years and started on 11 May 1935 (DUAP/ DLWC 1998, Appendix 1: 4, 8).

Luna Park was constructed over a three month period in 1935, by Stuart Brothers under the direction of David Atkins and Ted Hopkins, using a workforce of over 1,000 labourers. Luna Park was officially opened to the public on 4 October 1935. The North Sydney Olympic Pool was opened the following year on an adjacent site. 'The Midway was where it all happened. It was the street, the forum, the piazza, the stage, the audience' (Marshall 1995: 71).

The heyday for Luna Park was between 1935 and 1970. During this period, the Park underwent a series of alterations, including the introduction of new rides and amusements. The original entrance and famous face were remodelled in 1939, 1947, 1953, 1960 and again in 1973.

In 1950, the Phillips brothers, now in their 60s,were bought out by David Atkins, Ted Hopkins and others. Hopkins (known as 'Hoppy') became the manager of Luna Park in 1957, after the death of Atkins. When Hopkins retired in c1969, the leasehold was taken over by World Trade Centre Pty Ltd. Under the new management, winter closures were abandoned. As Luna Park was opened all year around, there was no opportunity to carry out regular maintenance works on the rides. In 1973, Peter Kingston and Martin Sharp undertook repainting works on the Park in the Pop Art style, which included the construction of a new face (Marshall 1995: 106). By 1975, Luna Park was operating on a week to week lease, with plans to develop the Lavender Bay foreshores as a 'Tivoli Gardens'.

In 1979, an accident on the Big Dipper injured 13 people. Later that year, a fire in the Ghost Train ride killed six children and one adult. Luna Park was closed from that night.. Throughout 1980, Luna Park remained closed and the Friends of Luna Park was formed to save Luna Park from any potential development. In 1981, Luna Park memorabilia and rides, dating from 1935 to 1981, were auctioned off (Marshall 1995: 112-120). The Friends of Luna Park prepared a Conservation Plan for the site in 1981, and a year later, the Luna Park Site Bill was passed.

Luna Park was re-opened in 1982 under the management of Harbourside Amusements Pty Ltd (Daily Telegraph Mirror 25 April 1982) but in 1988 Luna Park was closed for a second time. At this time, the front entrance towers were demolished, while the Martin Sharp face (1973) was relocated to the Powerhouse Museum. In 1990, the NSW Government passed the Luna Park Site Act, and appointed the Luna Park Reserve Trust, who prepared a Plan of Management in 1991. In 1992, the Trust commissioned Godden Mackay heritage consultants to prepare a Conservation Plan for the site. Conservation and construction works were undertaken by the Luna Park Reserve Trust between 1993 and 1995 in accordance with this Conservation Plan. The site was re-opened in January 1995. However, following a successful Supreme Court Appeal, which effectively prevented the ongoing operation of the Big Dipper, the Park was closed in 1996.

'In 1997 the Department of Land and Water Conservation (DLWC) engaged the Urban Design Advisory Service (UDAS) to investigate urban design and land use options for the future use of Luna Park' (DPWS/ DLWC 1998: 1). 'The Luna Park Plan of Management was prepared by the NSW Government in 1998 to guide the future management of the Luna Park Reserve. The Luna Park Plan of Management identifies a preferred option for Luna Park's future use, determined in consultation with residents, the general public and other stakeholders. The preferred option identified by the Luna Park Plan of Management seeks to preserve Luna Park's amusement park character while introducing new uses to improve its viability in accordance with the parameters in the Luna Park Site Amendment Act 1997' (HASSELL 1999: 1-2). Subsequent to adoption of the Luna Park Plan of Management in 1998, the NSW Department of Public Works and Services called for proposals to redevelop Luna Park. The proposal prepared by Metro Edgley was ultimately successful.

A Master Plan for the site was prepared in 1999, which included a Heritage Report prepared by Godden Mackay Logan. In January 2002 the Minister for Planning approved a development application for the site. Luna Park reopened in April 2004.

Entance Towers and Face

The first entrance to Luna Park consisted of two towers with an immense face between them and people entered through the mouth. It was constructed in 1935 presumably by Stuart Bros. to a design by Rupert Browne, based on his entrance to Melbourne's Luna Park at St Kilda. The idea of using a huge face as the front of a building, with entry through the mouth, originated at least as long ago as the Italian Renaissance. Melbourne's Luna Park entrance was built two years after the opening of a nightclub in Paris with such an entrance on its facade. Whether this was an influence is not known. Sydney's entrance was larger than the St Kilda entrance and more free standing. Its twin towers had scalloped spires obviously influenced by the design of the Chrysler Building in New York, a masterpiece of Art Deco and the tallest building in the world when it was erected in 1930. Pinnacles removed 1979. The face has evolved over the years. As it is located in a harsh location, exposed to salt air, it needs frequent maintenance. Each time this was carried out, in 1939, 1947, late 1950s, 1973 and 1982, the facial expression was altered. The whole entrance was demolished in 1988 and the 1982 face was stored on site. The face is now in the Powerhouse Museum. The present entrance face and towers were completed in January 1995. The current face, based on Arthur Barton's 1950 face, was installed for the reopening of Luna Park in January 1995. The towers were reconstructed for the 1995 reopening, based on the original towers (the design of which was based on the Chrysler Building in New York).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The entrance towers and face are a dramatic and conspicuous 'front door' symbol of Luna Park and continues to be one of the most recognisable icons of Sydney's history.

The towers, more than any other feature of the park, epitomised the then fashionable Art Deco style of architecture, emphasised by the innovative and exciting lighting effects.

The face and towers make an important impact on the harbour landscape, especially when viewed from Sydney Cove and the Opera House.

They have an important axial relationship with the western towers and dome of Coney Island, at the northern end of the park.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The entrance towers and face are a dramatic and conspicuous 'front door' symbol of Luna Park and continues to be one of the most recognisable icons of Sydney's history.
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.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerLuna Park _ Entrance Face and Towers2180276   

References, internet links & images

None

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4500821


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