Relay Test Centre | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Relay Test Centre

Item details

Name of item: Relay Test Centre
Other name/s: St. David's Road Depot; former ELPSC Substation; former Substation No.1518.
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Electricity
Category: Electricity Transformer/Substation
Location: Lat: -33.8847152509 Long: 151.1371755680
Primary address: 11 St Davids Road, Haberfield, NSW 2045
Parish: Concord
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Inner West
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOTA DP318470
LOT1 DP320780
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
11 St Davids RoadHaberfieldInner WestConcordCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
AusgridState Government21 Oct 98

Statement of significance:

The Relay Test Centre is of State heritage significance. It is a representative example of a substantial and well maintained Interwar stripped Classical purpose designed structure built as part of the infrastructure for the introduction of electricity to the western suburbs of Sydney. It is located within the Haberfield Urban Conservation Area as listed by the National Trust and the Australian Heritage Commission.
Date significance updated: 04 Nov 13
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: 1931-1931
Physical description: The Relay Test Centre is a substantial building of three or four storeys in height, but with only two layers of fenestration. It is completely cement rendered, with classical proportions. It has been built in the Interwar Stripped Classical style, elements of which include a decorative cornice and very high entablature which continue around the sides of the building. The windows have slightly projecting cement rendered sills.
The Relay Test centre is constructed of cement rendered brickwork.
Architextural Style: Interwar Stripped Classical
Exterior materials: Cement render, Metal framed windows
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Date condition updated:08 Nov 00
Modifications and dates: Wire mesh screens on windows. Window mounted airconditioning units.
Current use: Relay Test Centre
Former use: Relay Test Centre


Historical notes: St. David's Road appears in 1888, with four residents on unidenfied plots on its eastern side. Further development occurred in the early 20th century, under the salesmanship of Richard Stanton, with progressive infill on intervening lots (Extent Heritage, 2016, 13).

In 1912 the Australian Building Co. is shown as first occupant of St.David's Road near the corner of Parramatta Road and 13 St.David's Road. The Australian Building Co. also appeared as 119 Parramatta Road, between St.Davids Road and O'Connor St. in 1914. The address on the corner of Parramatta Road, no. 131 (now 129-131) was occupied by a grocer or fruiterer, which remained a constant throughout the ensuing period to 1933 (ibid, 2016, 13).

In January 1921 the 'Sydney Sun' newspaper reported a large fire at the Australian Timber Company, on a large site on the corner of Parramatta Road and St.David's Road. The timber yard, owned by F.O.Hedger, former Mayor of Ashfield (and Manager of the Australian Building Co.) noted a wetaherboard cottage on the site occupied by a family named Bolton, adjacent to the yard and behind the big furnace (ibid, 2016, 13).

The Australian Timber Co. disappeared from Sands Directories between 1924 and 1928. In 1929 a Hudson & Sons, TImber Merchants, appeared at 117 Parramatta Road, suggesting the business was sold to a competitor. Walter Bolton remained at no.13 St.David's Road beyond 1932 (ibid, 2016, 13).

St.David's Substation was built in 1930 and completed in 1931, by McIntyre & Cable of Undercliffe. When completed it was the ELPSC's second 22/5.5kV installation and an outdoor yard at the rear of the building accommodated the 22kV switchgear and transformers. Within the building the main 5.5kV switchboard was located on the top floor and the ground floor had an auxilliary 5.5kV switchboard, a distrubution transfoer and low-voltage switchboard for local supply, transformers and switchgear for three series street lighting circuits (ibid, 2016, 14).

Taken out of service as a substation in the 1960s the site was subsequently used as a maintenance depot and relay testing centre for the Sydney County Council (ibid, 2016, 14).

The entablature displays the words ' THE ELECTRIC LIGHT & POWER SUPPLY CORPORATION LTD, SUB-STATION, 1931'. Historical period: 1926-1950

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Technologies for electrical supply-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-
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. (none)-
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. State government-
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 - building and operating public infrastructure-
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. Architectural styles and periods - Interwar Stripped Classical-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT, 1977



I, the Minister for Planning, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977, do, by this my order

(a) under section 57(2) of the Heritage Act grant exemption from Heritage Council approval under Section 57(1) of the Heritage Act, as outlined in Schedule A, for the following activities described in 1-15 below, subject to review and approval by a person with demonstrated heritage expertise and experience in similar buildings and sites.

1. Replacement of corrugated asbestos roofing systems, box gutters and eaves with corrugated metal roofing system which maintains the general profile of the building roof and does not require replacement of structural fabric of the roof and retains any decorative features of the original roof design (e.g. exposed eaves, decorative soffits or barge boards). The choice of roofing material should not preclude the reinstatement of the original form of rainwater goods.

2. Replacement of non-original switchgear and associated internal building rearrangements to accommodate new switchgear, which does not require the significant removal of building fabric.

3. Replacement of non-original internal and external transformers.

4. Internal installation of fire mitigation apparatus and mechanisms including fire curtains, sheeting of structural members to improve fire rating and replacement of internal fire doors with asbestos cores.

5. Minor works necessary to preserve and enhance the security of the building including the replacement of locks, installation of internal security screens and grilles and the installation of electronic access control devices.

6. Maintenance and minor repairs that are necessary to preserve and maintain the building and are within the limits of the standard exemptions of the Heritage Act.

7. Excavations and reinstatement associated with installation or replacement of conduits, cables, services and pipes, where this will occur within existing cable egress areas or existing cable jointing areas and there are no known or suspected archaeological relics.

8. Minor works internal to the building including:
a) Replacement of Customer Load Control Equipment.
b) Upgrade of non-original toilet / washroom facilities.
c) Upgrade of control room equipment.
d) Refurbishment of battery rooms.
e) The removal of asbestos materials such as interior and external sheet linings, fire proofing, troughing, conduits, window sealant, asbestos fire doors etc.
f) The removal of devices and equipment containing mercury or other heavy metals.
g) Removal of lead-based paint and reinstatement with the original paint scheme.
h) Replacement of non-original lighting fixtures, including electrical controls where they are required for security or safety.

9. Minor internal works necessary to upgrade and enhance the structural integrity of the building which do not impact on the heritage significance of the building including:
a) The internal fitting of improved handrails and or stairs to access higher stories for the reason of safe access.
b) The upgrade of non-original internal lifting / crane equipment in loading docks specifically required for manual handling of equipment to meet WorkCover requirements.

10. Temporary works including containment areas, scaffolding and enclosures necessary for the carrying out of maintenance, enhancement or upgrading works.

11. Installation of safety or information signs, not being for commercial or advertising purposes.

12. Maintenance and painting of finished building surfaces where colour of finish is matched to the original colour.

13. Decommissioning of a substation and removal of non-original equipment.

14. Installation of oil containment systems in order to meet NSW EPA Pollution Licence requirements, in the following circumstances:
a) Masonry or concrete bunding around transformers and within existing transformer bays.
b) Underground oil containment works or systems in areas where there are no known or suspected archaeological relics.

15. Ventilation and air conditioning works limited to:
a) Replacement of existing external vents and louvres in a style consistent with the external appearance of the building.
b) Replacement of non-mechanical rooftop ventilators in a style consistent with the form, scale and position of existing ventilators.
c) Internal air conditioning systems with no externally visible components and which do not require the removal of original building fabric.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 5 Day of May 2009


Item State Heritage Register Listing Number

Electricity Power House, Crows Nest SHR 00931
Relay Test Centre, Haberfield SHR 00933
Substation, Ultimo SHR 00934
Substation, Randwick SHR 00935
Substation, Balgowlah SHR 00936
Substation, Manly SHR 00938
Substation, Paddington SHR 00939
Substation, Pymble SHR 00940
Substation, Annandale SHR 00941
Electricity Substation No 167, Auburn SHR 01790
Electricity Substation No 269, Bondi SHR 01791
Electricity Substation No 349, Randwick SHR 01792
May 15 2009
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales do by this Order, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0093302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 00090   
National Trust of Australia register NTA (NSW) Suburban Register 03 May 78   
Register of the National EstateHaberfield Conservation Area    

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenExtent Heritage2016St.David's Road Depot - former ELSPC Substation, Remediation Works - Statement of Heritage Impact - Final

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage NSW
Database number: 5011944
File number: EF14/4337; S97/23/1

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.

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