Railway electricity tunnel under Sydney Harbour | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Railway electricity tunnel under Sydney Harbour

Item details

Name of item: Railway electricity tunnel under Sydney Harbour
Other name/s: Sydney Harbour tunnel, Balmain to Greenwich Electric Cable Tunnel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Electricity
Category: Other - Utilities - Electricity
Location: Lat: -33.8447976360 Long: 151.1871740110
Primary address: , Birchgrove / Greenwich, NSW
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan


The listing boundary is the tunnel itself and the area left at each end (now sealed to general access).
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 Birchgrove / GreenwichLeichhardt  Primary Address
 Birchgrove / GreenwichLane Cove  Duplicate Address

Statement of significance:

The tunnel was a major technological and engineering achievement and was the first such venture to be undertaken in Australia without overseas assistance. It was a major link in the power supply to the railway and tramway system between Sydney and the North Shore and although flooded is an important element of the development of public transport in Sydney
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.


Physical description: STRUCTURES
tunnel under harbour and entrances built 1916-1926. The tunnel is lined with concrete in some areas, cast iron in some and the rock in others. At the centre of the tunnel is a large chamber where pumps were located to remove water. One side of the tunnel was lined with reinforced concrete shelves to house the cables.
The tunnel held twelve cables, 8 x 11,000 volt and two 50 pair communication cables. The tunnel was flooded in 1930. In 1952 the Electricity Commission took oveall power generation but the railways retained the tunnel and cables. The tunnel ceased use in 1969.
This was the first tunnel to be constructed under Sydney harbour.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria f)
This item is assessed as historically rare. This item is assessed as scientifically rare.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, 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:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

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

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0123102 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012228

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