Balmain Hospital - Main Building | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Balmain Hospital - Main Building

Item details

Name of item: Balmain Hospital - Main Building
Other name/s: Administration Building, Evans Ward, Victoria Ward
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Health Services
Category: Hospital
Location: Lat: -33.8594762425 Long: 151.1820103110
Primary address: Booth Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
Parish: Petersham
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT11 DP1006912
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Booth StreetBalmainLeichhardtPetershamCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW Department of HealthState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Balmain Hospital (Administration Building, Evans Ward and Victoria Ward) is historically significant as it was one of the earliest cottage hospitals developments in Sydney and the cottage hospital development in medical care was a highly significant component of welfare. The adaptation from middle class domestic housing to servicing the needs of an increasingly working class population provides an important example of the evolving social profile of the area. The Balmain Hospital represents an ongoing activity of rht local community. Its establishement in 1885 was as a result of community initiatives and it is a facility which still has meaning and is greatly valued by a large part of the community in the peninsula area and beyond. The Evans Ward, Victoria Ward and Administration Building between them display fine architectural qualities. The physical fabric is capable of demonstrating the full range of development from residential to medical. (Brian McDonald and Associates 1996)
Date significance updated: 06 Sep 11
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: EJ Bowen
Construction years: 1880-1880
Physical description: The Administration portion of the central component of the main building connecting the Evans and Vistoria Wards.

It is a three storey element, built in the Federation Anglo-Dutch style. Externally the buildings federation style features are relatively intact and its characteristics are as follows; essentially symmetrical faade; red brick with painted stone or stucco trim; enclosed verandahs to upper storey separated by an elaborate parapeted gable bearing the hospital name and the date of inception. Enclosed vernadah to the ground floor with late twentieth century aluminium framed glazing set in finely crafted brick arches. Painted cement render and painted sandstone to the lower ground floor with small windows providing light to the basement. Simple hipped medium pitched roofs with terracotta tiles.

Internally the buildings components reveal two distinct phases of development ranging from the mid-late nineteenth century to the Federation period (formerely Alderley).

Evans Ward
The Evans Ward is attached to the northern side of the administration portion. It is a two storey wing built in the Federation Anglo-Dutch style. Its fabric both internally and externally remains essentially intact and characterised as follows; small scale symmetrical facade with a projecting bay window. Red brick with painted stone trim. Elaborated parapeted gable including a roof ventilator. Medium pitched terracotta tile roof. TImber window joinery. Original timber skirtng boards and trim to ground floor. Ornate pressed metal ceilings, beam encasing and iron structural columns to ground foor. Fireplaces have been infilled on the ground floor. Leadlight windows and doors on ground floor typical of early Federation period.

Victoria Ward
The Victoria Ward is attached to the southern side of the administration portion. Its external fabric is virtually identical to that of Evans Ward, howvere the slight variation in the colour of bricks reveals that the two wards were not necessarily built at the same time.. (Brian McDonald & Associates 1996)
Modifications and dates: Parts of the original cottage known as 'Alderley' occupied by the Hospital in 1885 remain buried below the present Administration building.
c 1890: Booth House
1896: Evans Ward
1901: Victoria Ward
1907: Faade and upper floor to the Administration building between Evans and Victoria Wards
1907: Some components of the verandah to the north face of Evans Ward
Modifications to the building include infilled openings.
1965: tiles to roofs of Evans and Victoria Wards
1978: Enclosure of verandah at Evans Ward
Current use: Hospital
Former use: Hospital


Historical notes: It is unclear when Alderley the cottage at the nucleus of hospital was constructed. It may have been built in 1871 by Edmund Blackett however this has not been confirmed.

A move was made to create a cottage hospital in 1884 and a small cottage near the Town Hall was obtained, rent free from the Government. Shortly after, increased demand meant that the hospital needed to expand and purchased Alderley in 1885.

The Evans Ward was added in 1896 and the Victoria Ward in 1901.

In 1907 the nurses' accomodation was added above Alderley and a verandah added to the Evans Ward. The name of the hospital changed to the Balmain District Hospital. (Brian McDonald and Associates 1996)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Main Administration Building including the Evans and Victoria Wards, provides clear physical evidence of a major phase of the hospital development, undertaken in the late 19th and very early 20th centuries, as well as evidence of the original hospital cottage which itself pre-dates the Hospital's establishment.

Evidence of the latter is limited and less easily interpreted. It may be found to be an Edmund Blackett building which would provide a strong associational link. The fabric of the hospital development phase is largely intact and continues to remain the Hospital's main address as interpreted by the community.

In addition to the early 20th century development the building records a series of later alterations made to accommodate changing needs. (Brian McDonald and Associates 1996)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Main Administration Building provides the site with its finest orchestral component. Its external visible fabric retains most of the original architectural details and character, with the exception of the slate roofs and the chimneys which were removed.

The Evans and Victoria Wards’ facades are examples of the Federation Anglo-Dutch style which developed in Britain as a reaction against classical and Gothic Styles. Relatively few examples of this style remain in Australia today making the building rare. The building is a restrained example of this style but nonetheless a fine one. (Brian McDonald and Associates 1996)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The community perception of this building's role is consistent with its use. It is clearly seen as a major component of the hospital. (Brian McDonald and Associates 1996)

Despite substantial changes in usage of some parts of the building, the majority of detailing and the spatial arrangements inspirited in the early 20th century have remained, enabling the interpretation of their original use to be made.
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 0081402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 16/2/12/100001 Feb 92   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Department of Health - s170 Register199216/2/12/10Schwager, Brooks & Partners Pty Ltd  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBrian McDonald and Associates1996Balmain Hospital, Booth Street, Balmain - Conservation Plan

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012319
File number: S95/00076

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