Abernethy and Co Stonemason's Lathe | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Abernethy and Co Stonemason's Lathe

Item details

Name of item: Abernethy and Co Stonemason's Lathe
Type of item: Movable / Collection
Group/Collection: Manufacturing and Processing
Category: Industrial Objects (movable)
Location: Lat: -35.912222 Long: 150.079466
Primary address: Moruya and District Historical Society 85 Campbell Street, Moruya, NSW 2537
Local govt. area: Eurobodalla
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Cobowra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT11161705DP2927


The SHR curtilage boundary is limited to the item itself and does not include the land it is located on or the structure it is housed within.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Moruya and District Historical Society 85 Campbell StreetMoruyaEurobodalla  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Office of Environment and HeritageGeneral13 Apr 99

Statement of significance:

A rare surviving piece of Victorian machinery which was in use for nearly a century, this stonemason's lathe demonstrates changes in technology and in the taste for the use of stone elements in public buildings. It is associated with many significant public buildings in Sydney of the late Victorian period including Sydney General Post Office, the Queen Victoria Building and the pedestal for Queen Victoria's statue in Queen's Square. It is rare for its size and demonstrates aspects of late 19th century toolmaking technology.
Date significance updated: 17 Aug 10
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.


Builder/Maker: J. Abernethy & Co Aberdeen
Construction years: 1881-1881
Physical description: A lathe for turning large stone columns. Assembled from components of cast iron with milled gears and shafts mounted on a bed of approximately 10 metres length with toothed rails for positioning the travelling end.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Substantially intact. Reassembled following confirmation of heritage status after initial dismantling. It is not presently in working order but weather protection had been provided by the Heritage Branch, NSW Department of Planning, when on display at Forbes's Lachlan Vintage Village. Relocated and reassembled in Moruya in May 2010 and undergoing conservation treatments.
Date condition updated:09 Sep 10
Modifications and dates: Reassembly completed April 1993 by W.A. Knights Steel Fabricators & Erectors, Forbes. Moved to Forbes circa 1977 from the Sydney yard of Loveridge & Hudson, stonemasons.

Relocated from Forbes to Moruya May 2010. Set up in new display venue adjacent to the Moruya Historical Society in Campbell Street Moruya on land set asside by Council for this purpose. Cover shed established around lathe. Moruya Antique Tractor and Machinery Association Inc. has reassembled the lathe and begun conservation treatments, including fish oil applications, on behalf of the present owner, Eurobodalla Shire Council.
Former use: Stonemason's Lathe


Historical notes: This twin bed lathe was made in 1881 at Aberdeen by J. Abernethy and Co. and brought to Sydney where it was used to turn columns for the Sydney GPO, The Queen Victoria Building and for the granite pedestal for the Queen Victoria statue in Queen's Square, Sydney. It was last in use at Loveridge and Hudson's Yard in Sydney in the 1960s.

It was given by Mr Ted Hudson to the Lachlan Village at Forbes and disposed at auction in May 1987. It was subsequently repurchased by the Heritage Council of NSW and ownership transferred to the Minister for Planning under the NSW Heritage Act 1977. The lathe was reassembled at the Lachlan Vintage Village, Forbes, following recognition of its significance. In 1999, the lathe was transferred to the State Heritage Register under the Act.

The Heritage Council resolved at its 4th November 2009 meeting to recommend that the Minister:

1.acting as a corporation sole under section 102 of the NSW Heritage Act 1977, transfers title of the Abernethy Stonemason's Lathe from the corporation sole to Eurobodalla Shire Council.

The Abernethy Stonemason's Lathe is the only moveable item of its type known to have survived in Australia. The item is currently owned and managed by the Minister for Planning under the Heritage Act 1977. Eurobodalla Shire Council has approached the Heritage Branch, NSW Department of Planning, to obtain the item for public display at Moruya. Council has also indicated its willingness to obtain legal title to the lathe in perpetuity, from the Minister for Planning, to assist their active care and long term management of the item.

The Heritage Branch has identified this action as being beneficial to the long term care, display and public enjoyment of the lathe.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has obtained planning permission to display the item in a public outdoor setting adjacent to the Moruya Historical Society building near Campbell Street, Moruya. Transfer of the item will require later Heritage Council approval under section 57 and/or section 60 of the Act.

Under the Heritage Act, transfer of an item of environmental heritage from the control of the Minister and the corporation to another party requires the recommendation of the Heritage Council of NSW under section 116(2). The Heritage Council agreed to recommend the disposal of the item at its meeting of 4 November 2009 (Item 2.4). The Minister wrote to Eurobodalla Council in March 2010 to formally transfer title .

Records indicate that the Lathe was last used at Loveridge & Hudson's Yard in Sydney in the 1960s. It is unclear whether the Lathe was ever situated near the main source of granite at Moruya, or whether it was always located in Sydney. The Moruya Antique Tractor and Machinery Association (MATMA) suggests that a collection of historic photographs show the Lathe situated at Louttit's quarry, Moruya, at one stage.

For many years the lathe was in limbo its last known use was at the stonemasonry firm of Loveridge and Hudson in Sydney during the 1960's.

The firm was registered in 1882, just after the lathe's construction. Did they order and ship it to Australia at that time. the company records are lost today.

The lathe is however attributed to turning the stone columns for some of Sydney's most majestic buildings . the extension of the Sydney GPO in the 1880s, the Queen Victoria Building (1898), Circular Quay Railway (early 1900's), and the Martin Place Savings Bank (1925), amongst others. At this time, suggestions are that the lathe was based in Sydney.

Was it always that way? There is some thought that it had once been at Louttit's Quarry on the banks of the Moruya River.

We do know that it turned Moruya granite and we know that by 1977 the Sydney company of Loveridge and Hudson had donated it to the then growing Lachlan Vintage Village in Forbes an Old Sydney Town type heritage village. The lathe was in Sydney at that time.

Here its fortunes were a little more certain, until the village owners sold it to a local scrap metal business a decade later in 1987.

Heritage enthusiasts including the Department of Public Works and the National Trust, lamented the lathe's loss.

The Hon Bob Carr, then Minister for Heritage, placed an Order over the historic monument that year under the Heritage Act. the Heritage Council under its then Chair Justice Hope stepped in and purchased it and it was given a stay of life in the Village grounds.

With Lachlan Vintage Village's verging collapse, the lathe was once again in jeopardy. Calls to remove it were made from 1991.

The relocation of the lathe to Moruya in May 2010 was made possible by the coming together of key community members and the local Council to rescue this important part of New South Wales' industrial heritage.

Local groups recognised the importance of this item to the local area and were instrumental in starting the dialogue to get the lathe relocated.

It is fitting then that the Heritage Council, which saved the lathe from scrapping in the 1980s, could assist by recommending to the Minister that it be transferred to Eurobodalla for final display and protection.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Manufacturing building materials and products-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Reusing and relocating industrial plant and equipment-
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 of new building materials and techniques-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working complex machinery and technologies-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Associated with construction of major public works in the late Victorian period in Sydney including the Sydney General Post Office, The Queen Victoria Building and the Pedestal for Queen Victoria's Statue in Queen's Square.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Indicative of the fluctuating preference for stone elements in public buildings.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
An example of 19th century technology which survived in use for its original specialised purpose for nearly a century.
SHR Criteria f)
A rare surviving Victorian stonemason's lathe, possibly unique outside Europe.
Integrity/Intactness: Largely intact but not in working order. Reassembly may not have included functional connectors.
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.

Recommended management:

Maintain and Interpret Significance.

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 0094202 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: 5014131
File number: s91/01421, H04/00147

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