Wangi Power Station Complex | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Wangi Power Station Complex

Item details

Name of item: Wangi Power Station Complex
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Electricity
Category: Electricity Generator/Power Station - coal/gas/oil
Location: Lat: -33.0632384034 Long: 151.5707760260
Primary address: , Wangi Wangi, NSW 2267
Parish: Awaba
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Lake Macquarie
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP1229937
LOT2 DP1229937
LOT3 DP1229937
LOT4 DP1229937
LOT2 DP810981
LOT3 DP810981
LOT4 DP810981
LOT6 DP810981
LOT100 DP880089
LOT101 DP880089
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 Wangi WangiLake MacquarieAwabaNorthumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Centennial Fassifern Pty LtdPrivate06 Apr 18
Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure & ServicesState Government 
IJ McDonald Pty LtdPrivate 
National Parks and Wildlife ServiceState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Wangi Power Station Complex is of state heritage significance for its association with leading the evolution of coalfields-sited power stations and power generation in New South Wales. As the pioneer of the basic concept on which all later major New South Wales power stations have been planned, it exemplifies the change from city-based to coalfields-sited power stations, a change which led to dramatic reductions in power costs and in city pollution.

Wangi Power Station Complex is of state significance for being the largest power station in NSW during it early years of operation. It was the last of the NSW Railway's power stations to be built, and the last one to close, and represents the transition from Railways to Elcom as the predominant power generation authority in NSW.

Wangi Power Station Complex is of state significance for its aesthetic of industrial architecture influenced by the Expressionist school. The main building is significant for its rarity as a modern power station designed and built with its architectural appearance as an integral part of its landscape and environment. It is aesthetically distinctive, showing creative and technical innovation, fitting sensitively into its environment.

Wangi Power Station has state level significance because it is an important benchmark and reference site for the state's energy supply industry that has potential to reveal historical and scientific information unavailable elsewhere.

Wangi Power Station Complex has significant association with renowned industrial architect Colin Smith, prominent Railways Chief Electrical Engineer, W.H. Myers, and as a state-wide training centre for Elcom. As the first large coalfields power station in the Hunter Region, Wangi Power Station originated marked changes in the mining of coal, in the use of coal within the region, and in employment, population distribution and societal influence in the region.

The Wangi Power Station Complex is listed due to its significance to the state for historic, aesthetic, benchmark and rarity values as well as reasons relating to associations and social importance.
Date significance updated: 11 May 18
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

Designer/Maker: Railways NSW architect (unknown) & Colin Smith of CH Smith& Johnson Architects
Builder/Maker: several
Construction years: 1949-1960
Physical description: Wangi Power Station (1958-1986) was the first of the big (and for a few years, the biggest) power station in NSW. The Expressionist/Functionalist style building is unique among post-WW2 Australian power stations both as a showpiece and for the way it fits into its landscape. An elongated building with a curved facade on the administration wing, & 3 tall chimneys, it resembles an ocean liner sailing into Lake Macquarie.
The main building is 12,000 m², 11-storey, triple brick cladding over a rivetted steel frame on concrete base. The three 76m chimneys are concrete. The 2,600m² outbuilding, the Clearspan Store, is of steel, brick and corrugated iron roof. There are only four small remaining outbuildings located near the main power station.
The Myuna Colliery is a fully operational underground colliery with numerous buildings and equipment above ground.
Curtilage
This curtilage of approx. 1.2km² (with approx. 10km perimeter) comprises the power station building, the Myuna Colliery and land originally belonging to Wangi Power Station complex for ancillary purposes (transmission lines, coal rail corridor, water cooling channels etc).
Landscape
The site is located at the very northern end of Wangi Point on Lake Macquarie. Set in a former casuarina and mangrove wetland valley of Wangi Creek with water access to the south (Myuna Bay) and east (Wangi Wangi Bay). The gentle hills of native grassland, grey myrtle shrub and remnants of littoral rainforest rise slightly to the south (then to down to Myuna Bay) and to the north of the main power station building. The Myuna Colliery (Centennial Coal) operates on approx. 15.5 ha to the west of the main power station building.
Design
Designed by a NSW Railways architect (not yet identified) with faithful structural changes, and detailing of finishing trades by Colin Smith of C.H.Smith & Johnson, Architects.

Wangi Power Station is significant as a rare example, (in Australia) of industrial architecture
influenced by the Expressionist school, as developed and inspired by the work of Peter
Behrens and the Deutscher Werkbund in Germany before the First World War. Wangi Power Station is an excellent example of the early idea of functionalism in architecture, wherein the outer envelope of the building is designed to express the functions within.

The 12,000 square-metre, 11-storey building is probably one of the last major buildings in Australia to have a structural frame of riveted steel. It is clad in triple brick. The last building of its kind to be built in brick.

It is known as an “P&O-style” power station design – the only one of its kind – due to the three big chimneys, brick base and the way it is seen from the lake.

Rail lines were built for the delivery of coal from the Awaba State Mine and Newstan Colliery.

Remaining structures
The three reinforced concrete, 76 metre high Chimney Stacks, spaced along the west side of the power station building, are significant and evocative reminders of the former coal burning, electricity generating function of Wangi Power Station. The three Chimney Stacks constitute a highly visible and widely recognised landmark in the Lake Macquarie district.

The two cooling water intake tunnels (a 577m horseshoe-shaped tunnel and a second larger concrete reinforced tunnel), running from portals at the lakeside in Myuna Bay under the hill to the screens at the power station.

The Cooling Water Discharge Channel runs the full length of the power station outside the Turbine House, then turns away to the east where its water flowed out into Wangi Bay, on the opposite side of Wangi Wangi peninsula to the intake portals in Myuna Bay.

The "Clearspan" Store is located in the north corner of the site close to the end of the former Switchyard area. It is the only remaining out-building on the site. The "Clearspan" Store is significant for its association with the construction period after Elcom took over the site, and is the first large outbuilding constructed by Elcom on the Wangi Power Station site.

Full details of all buildings, including rail lines, can be found in Wang Power Station Heritage Study 1990 C&MJ Doring, and Wangi Power Station Conservation Management Plan 2000 EJE Architecture.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The condition of the main building is slowly deteriorating due to weathering, inactivity, vandalism and a fire in 2017. Structurally it is in good condition despite evidence of cracking and crumbling fabric. All major equipment has been removed, as has most external buildings, service and infrastructure facilities. The grounds of the main building (Lot 101 DP 880089) are in poor condition. The water cooling inlet tunnels, vent and outlet channel are in good condition. Former cleared areas for roads, rail and transmission lines and other infrastructure are slowly being reclaimed by vegetation.
The vast majority of the vegetation landscape is in good condition.
Date condition updated:11 May 18
Modifications and dates: Wangi ‘A’ completed 1958, Wangi ‘B’ completed 1960, Myuna Colliery commenced 1979 (opened 1981), dismantling of Power Station took place 1996/7 (incl. rail lines and rail bridge over Wangi Rd), Lot changes: The curtilage for Wangi Power Station Complex was originally listed as Lots 1-7 of DP 810981. In November 2003 Lot 1 & 7 became Lot100 DP (Wangi Power Station) and Lot101 DP 880089 Myuna Colliery. In 2009 Lot 5 DP 810981 was subdivided into four lots, Lots 1-4 DP 1229937.
Further information: The owners of the main Power Station (Lot 101 DP880089) are looking to wind up the company and sell off all assets (May 2018)
Current use: Abondoned Power Station, working underground colliery, open scrubland landscape
Former use: Wangi Power Station with associated infrastructure including Elcom training centre

History

Historical notes: In about 1946 the Electricity Authority approved the construction of a new power station on lake Macquarie at Wangi Wangi by the department of Railways. Wangi Wangi was chosen for the site of what would be the biggest power station in the state for its water and coal. It was officially opened on 7th November 1958 after a construction and commissioning period lasting just on ten years. It was closed in 1986. Wangi power station was the first of the big coalfields power stations, and for a few years was the biggest power station in New South Wales. (Wangi Power Station: Conservation Management Plan by EJE Architecture, Jan 2000)

Wangi Power Station was the first large coalfields power station in the Hunter Region, and so originated marked changes in the mining of coal, in the use of coal within the Region, and in employment and population distribution in the Region. Wangi Power Station marked the arrival of power stations in the Lake Macquarie district, which ever since has been, and still is, dominated by the power generation industry.
Wangi Power Station transformed a small, fairly isolated retirement or holiday settlement into a large multi-national construction camp for nearly 10 years. After commissioning, Wangi Power Station was by far the most important source of employment and income in the district for about 25 years, and so became the focal point of the Wangi Wangi and surrounding community. (Wangi Power Station Heritage Study C& MJ Doring 1990)

The following information is copied with permission from the author Fetscher, Mark, The Power Makers: the Evolution of the Coal Fired Power Station in New South Wales, 2018.
Wangi was the last of the Railway power stations and was constructed in two sections as dictated by a change of ownership and a change in technology. The staircase in the administration building and Control House building were of a grand design and the overall design was the last expressions in the pride of workmanship that the Department of Railways put into their power stations.
Wangi also pioneered a new way of constructing power stations; the first unit was in service as construction work proceeded on the later generating units. Up until this time large near empty buildings were constructed and were filled with boilers and steam-turbo alternators as the demand for electricity increased.
Originally known as Lake Macquarie Power Station, this mixture of pre-war and post-war technology was once the largest producer of electricity in New South Wales.
The 330 MW power station dominated electricity generation for almost a decade. It rescued the state on one memorable occasion and was called upon in its old age to again step up and support the beleaguered power system. Wangi Power Station's day of glory occurred on the night of 10 June 1964 when by the virtue of its stoker-fired boilers whose fires remained alight, was able to start the restoration of the State Grid after a major system failure.
The power station had its origins in 1937 when the Electrical Branch of the Department of Railways conceived an idea of electrifying the principle rail routes in New South Wales.
Myers presented his proposal formally April 1941 when he suggested to the Electricity Advisory Committee that in the general survey of major power station proposals being prepared for the Committee, that consideration be given to locating a large power station at Wangi Wangi to act as a base-load station jointly for the cities of Sydney and Newcastle.
The Wangi Power Station project generated at great deal of coverage in the press. It was the great hope to cure the crippling post-war power shortages and was the largest power station under construction in Australia.
Civil engineering work commenced at the Wangi site in 1948, with the earliest work started on the deviation of Wangi Creek, which flowed through the site to a new concrete channel and then joined the cooling water outfall canal. Civil design work had not yet been completed and as late as 1949 drawings for the power station buildings were still being signed by the Railway's Chief Civil Engineer Major-General Fewtrell.

Work began on a 577 metre long horseshoe-shaped tunnel to bring cooling water from Myuna Bay into the power station. This tunnel was dug with old, 1900 era, steam-driven air compressors powering pneumatic drilling equipment. These were apparently kept in store for such an occasion and also, quite astoundingly, work was also carried out with hand tools. Problems were encountered during the construction, and part of the tunnel had to be lined with concrete a second time.

Coal for the new power station would travel along a 10.4 kilometre railway branch line from the newly developed State Mine at Awaba. Opening in 1947, Awaba was the second State Mine developed after that established at Lithgow many years before.

Hundreds of workers converged on Wangi Wangi, initially miners (Awaba and Newstan) camping on holidays, then construction workers to build the power station. They were housed on a hill opposite the station. The Railway Department built single and married quarters, also a large tent city sprang up nearby. Many people from around the Hunter Valley moved to Wangi, but also post-war European immigrants, predominantly Italian, worked on this site as others worked on the Snowy Mountains projects also being constructed at this time. There was much interaction between the workers and the residents of Wangi village.

The first pair 50 MW generating units were ordered on 17 September 1948 and the first four boilers on 7 October 1948.
The next generator (No.3) and pair of boilers (3A & 3B) were ordered on the 3 June 1949 and 30 June 1949 respectively.
The final three turbo-generators and six boilers were ordered in early 1951. The plant was of large scale and a high turbine house floor level of twenty-six feet (7.9 metres) above the basement floor was provided as space for the large condensers.
A second coal source for the power station was acquired in 1951 when the Joint Coal Board took over the financially troubled Newstan Colliery.
A new marshalling yard was constructed that trailed a short rail connection to the south to allow coal trains to be worked to the Awaba branch line. During 1957 Newstan Colliery supplied coal to the power station for the first time as production levels started to increase.
Work on the first concrete chimney started on 7 April 1951 by Arcos Constructions Pty Ltd. The sixteen-sided circular chimneys have an internal diameter of 6 metres and a height of 76 metres.
The first steelwork was supplied by Sir William Arrol & Co. of Glasgow and was erected in early August 1952 after some 8359 tonnes of steel had been accepted from Glasgow.
The other civil contractors were Dorman Long, The Electric Power Transmission Co., F. Compton and Sons, Norman King and Partners and James Wallace & Co.

In accordance with the Electricity Commission Act of 1950 the Lake Macquarie (Wangi) Power Station was taken over by the Electricity Commission of New South Wales from the Railway Department on 1 January 1953. However the Railway Department remained for the time being, the constructing authority with 500 employees and another 100 men from different contractors on the site. Each pair of boilers was designed to be under the command of one Boiler Attendant and one Assistant Plant Operator; Turbine Attendants controlled the turbine plant.
The generators and switchyard were under the control of the Electrical Control Room Operators. This was the operating style of all the departmental generating stations.
The station as originally designed with stoker-fired boilers and interconnection with each boiler provided a flexibility to match the changing demand characteristics of a railway traction load.
The final generating unit was synchronised at 10.58 a.m. on the 6 November 1957 with boiler 3A. The final boiler, 3B, was brought into service during February 1958.
During 1958 Number 4 unit of 'B' Station was installed and at 60 MW was the largest generating machine in Australia. No. 4 entered service at 12.30 p.m. on 1 June 1958 and used steam supplied by a temporary line from the 'A' Station boilers until No. 4 boiler was commissioned in April 1959.
Number 4 boiler suffered a fuel explosion in the furnace in July 1959, and suffered distortion and leakage in the area of the economiser. It was repaired and re-entered service in August.
Number 5 alternator and boiler entered service at 2.15 p.m. on the 2 November 1959 at and the last unit Number 6, on 24 August 1960.
The Premier of New South Wales, Mr. J. J. Cahill officially opened Lake Macquarie (Wangi) Power Station on 7 November 1958. The official name did not last long for it was changed to Wangi Power Station in 1959.

Water supplies were stored in three 2.27 million-litre storage tanks on the hill at the rear of the station. The cooling water tunnel, 577 metres long, had a cross sectional area of 3.65 metres by 4.1 metres and drew water from Myuna Bay1.
A second cooling water tunnel was commenced late in the construction phase to augment the cooling water supply.
The original tunnel now called No. 1 tunnel, could maintain a flow of only 454 600 litres of water a minute which was barely enough to supply the 'A' station let alone the second section.
A much larger tunnel was dug in a much shorter time using modern methods. The No. 2 tunnel emerged from an excavated section of hill near the No. 3 chimney and was made serviceable in 1960.
Three rotary intake screens were erected and the tunnel was capable of a 1 360 800 litre flow a minute. The tunnel had a circular roof and was 3.95 metres by 3.95 metres. At full load Wangi Power Station used some 19.3 m3/second of cooling water.
A rectangular concrete canal discharged cooling water into Wangi Bay. The canal at the power station was 6 metres wide by 3.6 metres deep. This canal ran some 365 metres where it widened to 15.8 metres and then ran another 365 metres where it discharged into the bay.

The 'A' Station consisted of six Babcock & Wilcox 'High Head Boilers' type and three Parsons three-cylinder tandem compound steam turbines. The 'B' Station consisted of three Babcock & Wilcox 'Radiant' type single-drum water-tube boilers instead of the six Babcock & Wilcox 'High Head' boilers originally proposed, and three Parsons three-cylinder tandem compound steam turbines.
The completed power station of 330 MW full load capacity made a fine sight and the station had been designed and built to a high engineering standard.

The main building, of red brick construction, was 228 metres long by 53.3 metres wide and 41 metres high, contained rows of bronze, double mullioned windows, and the entire roof was made of precast concrete. The roofline was almost symmetrical when viewed from the front. When seen from the rear, the higher roof of the bigger 'B' station boiler house was obvious. The high, curved office block of six stories was constructed on the end of the turbine house, and the workshops on the end of the 'A' station boiler house. The total length of the complex was 291 metres and the total cost of the finished station was some (Pounds)30 million.
By 1961 Wangi Power Station had taken the crown from Pyrmont Power Station as the largest producer of power in New South Wales, although there was a close rivalry with Tallawarra Power Station. The latter station only managed to exceed Wangi's output in 1962.
Wangi 'A' Power Station was operated at 78.8 per cent load factor while Wangi 'B' was the highest in the state and was loaded to 83.1 per cent in 1961. In the 1960-61 financial year Wangi Power Station generated 2305 706 000 kWh (2305.7 GWh) or 30 per cent of the state's thermal output.
In 1964 the station reached its pinnacle when it generated 2439.713 GWh, consumed 1.2 million tonnes of coal and was home to around 400 employees. With the closure of the older portion of Zaara Street Power Station many of the displaced employees were transferred to Wangi Power Station.

DECLINE
As output began to rise from the newer and larger power stations, production and operating time was progressively cut back at Wangi's 'A' station until the mid 1970s when it was hardly used at all.
The reduction in coal consumption in the late 1960s affected Newstan Colliery in that the demand for coal had been greatly diminished; management had to find new markets to keep the colliery an economic operation. Salvation came in the shape of an overseas export trade and the coal was transported to Port Waratah by rail, hauled mainly by New South Wales Government Railways owned 60 Class Beyer-Garrett steam locomotives. Because the rail access to the colliery faced the south and the trains had to head north, the trains were backed out of the colliery and the locomotives had to storm the steeply graded Fassifern Bank from a standing start. This spectacular show became an international event as travellers from all over the world came to watch. Wangi 'B' station output declined in the late 1960s as production was no longer kept at high levels at all hours of the day.

In the late 1960s/70s throughout NSW there were labour disputes calling for a 35 week and associated issued. Delegates and workers of Wangi Power Station demanded a site allowance to compensate for the expense involved in travelling the long distance between Wangi Power Station and their homes in the Newcastle area. They prepared a very good and well documented case and arranged an inspection tour of the area. Action backing their claim included several strikes by Wangi workers. A deputation met the Premier seeking a 35-hour week and four weeks' annual leave. This was not to be last of strike actions at Wangi Power Station, with most of the strikes being about the 35-hour week, holidays, sick leave, and working conditions. Some strikes lasted several weeks. During such strikes the community bound together with donations of food. Wangi was heavily unionised. (these excerpts from Australian Left Review - August-September, 1969 article "Shop Committees and Workers Control" by Harry Webb, and Remembering Wangi Power Station - Oral Histories, Bill Bottomley, March 2016)

In 1975 the station was reduced from base load to intermediate load status. The branch line played host to the last Government steam locomotive in service when, on 23 February 1973, locomotive 6042 hauled its last train from Awaba State Mine to the power station. In late 1973, due to the reduced amount of coal being consumed, the branch line became uneconomic to keep open and the transport of coal from Awaba State Mine passed to road haulage.

A TEST BED
In the mid 1970s fly ash fallout from Wangi power station was known to be causing environmental damage and polluting the surrounding areas. The problem ironically gave Wangi a new lease of life. The 'B' station was fitted with an early type of electrostatic precipitator, which was not very efficient for NSW coals.
The Electricity Commission had been experimenting since the mid 1960s with a more efficient method of flue gas cleaning called fabric filters at a pilot plant located at Tallawarra Power Station. The electrostatic precipitators were basically 'life-expired' by 1974, so it was decided to install this new method of dust collection at Wangi Power Station as a trial for large-scale application at the proposed Eraring Power Station.
The first filter containing 4032 bags was installed on Number 4 boiler in 1975. The old precipitator components were removed and the concrete housing of the old dust plant was retained for the new installation. The same type fabric filters were installed for use with boilers 5 and 6 in the following year and were known as the Ducon Micropul high-pressure Pulse-Jet type. These filters could not prevent continuing emissions of fly ash from the chimneys because the old concrete casings were used and excessive leakage was occurring between the casing and the new filter system.
In 1976 Mechanical Shaker-type fabric filters containing 3760 bags were installed for operational use with the 'A' station steam plant. These new filters replaced the original Prat Daniel Valmont mechanical collection system. They were much more successful than the 'B' station filters because complete new installations had been fitted.
When the stoker-fired boilers were traditionally shut down for an overnight period coal was heaped to induce slow burning fires called 'banking' on the grates. Although this procedure remained unchanged, there was an initial concern about oil fouling the filter bags during light off.
Wangi 'A' station was brought back into regular peak-hour operations and Wangi 'B' station was programmed to generally operate on two shifts, five days a week from 1978 onwards.
In the years of 1977 and 1979 there was an increase in output from both stations to meet the rising demand for power. In 1979 there were problems with the new generating units at Vales Point Power Station, which produced at sharp increase in generation from Wangi Power Station.

Wangi Station staff and management generally worked and lived in Wangi Wangi for many years. It was a very social working environment. Elcom provided a social club, holiday lets, Picnic Day and Sports Day, Christmas parties and art workshops and exhibitions with internationally renowned local artist, Sir William Dobell. (Remembering Wangi Power Station - Oral Histories, Bill Bottomley, March 2016)

AN OLD ANTIQUE AND A FINAL FLING IN DESPERATE TIMES
The Myuna Colliery was developed on land west of the power station to provide coal for the Eraring Power Station (5 kilometres to the west). The mine started in August 1979, with coal production commencing in 1982.

In the early 1980s the maintenance staff at Wangi Power Station was greatly reduced and this in turn limited the remaining life of the turbo-alternators.
The mechanical condition of the 'A' Station turbo-generators was virtually wrecked by the time of closure. The slides on which the cylinders moved during expansion and contraction would not move freely resulting in the distortion of the machines2.
Wangi Power Station lacked the political clout of Tallawarra and Wallerawang power stations as it was situated in an area where there were numerous power stations and the opportunity to absorb redundant workers.
With worn out plant Wangi Power Station enjoyed a sparkling renaissance in old age when it was called upon along with every other conceivable piece of generating equipment to help maintain the state's electricity needs after three large generating units failed at Liddell power station in November 1981.
The 'B' station was once again elevated to the status of a base-load station and was operated on two shifts, seven days a week.
Production levels increased at the old 'A' station as it was used as an intermediate-load-plant (still listed as a peak-load station).
The power station was in operation on weekends and the author remembers seeing both the 'A' and 'B' stations in operation one cold Saturday afternoon in July 1982. Wangi Power Station was badly needed during the power crises but it was costly to operate compared to the larger stations and output was cut back when the load was backed off during quiet times.
Although the plant was old and worn-out, it seemed that it could still achieve full output and on one occasion the 'A' Station was worked up beyond its normal maximum capacity and achieved 158 MW and the 'B' Station was operated up to its designed limit.

DYING DAYS
Wangi station was regarded as an antique, especially the old 'A' Station and ELCOM desired to replace it with the new Bayswater Power Station. The 'A' station ash plant and hoppers were in a poor condition. The feed heating plant was worn out and the 'A' units were run without the plant being in service.
By late 1982 the generating units at Liddell Power Station were again in service and with one unit operating at the new Eraring Power Station the power shortage situation was greatly eased.
Wangi 'A' could generate electricity at the rate of 15 MW per employee per shift and this figure compared to 22 MW per employee at Wangi 'B'. These figures were paled in comparison to the 73 MW per employee at Vales Point 'A' Power Station, 140 MW at Munmorah and 200 MW per employee at Liddell Power Station.
In early 1983 it was broadcast on NBN Television that the old power station would be put on standby and peak-hour supply duties by the end of the year.
During 1984 Number 4 unit had amassed 147 582 service-hours and had achieved the highest record among the ELCOM stations. Unit 1 had achieved 112 811 service hours, Unit 2: 99 883 service hours, Unit 3: 107 668 service hours, Unit 5: 139 994 and Unit 6: 139 915 service hours.
As retirement approached the old plant regained some importance as a test site for development of new technology. The pulverised-fuel-fired boilers underwent research and demonstration trials using a high-energy plasma arc-ignition to light off pulverised coal to eliminate the need to use expensive oil fuel.
During the years of 1984-86 one unit from each section of the station was usually run up on a weekly test to keep the machinery operational when the power station was idle during long periods on standby duties.
The 'A' station was retired from service on 7 March 1985 bringing an end to the era of the Railway power stations. The 'B' station closed on the 31 October 1986, although it remained as a stand-by plant.

The power station was formally decommissioned on 31 April 1989. In thirty years of operation Wangi Power Station had produced 36 181.16 GWh of electricity and consumed some 20 million tonnes of coal. In retirement Wangi Power Station remained in use as a training centre for Commission personnel and a switching centre for the transmission of power in the Newcastle area. These operations came to an end when a new sub-station was constructed at the Newcastle suburb of Warabrook in 1991-92.
(Copied with permission from the author - Fetscher, Mark, The Power Makers: the Evolution of the Coal Fired Power Station in New South Wales. 2018)

In 1990 Elcom started trading as Pacific Power and corporatised as Pacific Power in 1995. In 1992, the coal mines owned and operated by Pacific Power (including Myuna) were split off into a new government organanisation called Powercoal.

From 1995-97 the generating plant was stripped out of the station building, external infrasctruture, buildings and facilities were removed and a costly asbestos removal and site remediation project was undertaken. In 1998 Pacific Power divested Lots 3 and 4 DP 810981 to NPWS and Centennial Coal (respectively) redistributed the boundaries of the main power station (now Lot 101 DP 880089) and Myuna Colliery (now Lot 100 DP 880089) and sold the main power station by Public Tender to Brisbane-based I.J. McDonald & Sons for commercial redevelopment. Managing director Ian McDonald planned to build 100 apartment units, a 3 and a half star motel, shopping arcade, cinemas and offices within the massive brick building. Mr McDonald pursued negotiations with the Lake Macquarie City Council and the Heritage Council of NSW. Upon the death of Mr McDonald's these plans have failed to be revived. The company, at the time of writing (2018) was looking to wrap up all operations including Wangi Power Station.

In 2002 Centennial Coal acquired Powercoal and thus Myuna Colliery. In 2003 Pacific Power divested Lot 2 DP 810981 to Crown Lands and sold off Lots 5 and 6 DP 810981 (formerly location of a transmission tower north of Donnelly Road) for residential development.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Ethnic influences-Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples. Multi-national contacts with local communities-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods Energy supply industry-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. coal transport and handling-
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-
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 adapting road transport to rail systems-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in regional settings-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Changes from the provision of electricty.-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Providing job training and placement services-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Celebrating union-initiated reforms-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Providing migrant labour-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working complex machinery and technologies-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on public infrastructure projects-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Wangi Power Station has highest level state heritage significance for its association with leading the evolution of coalfields-sited power stations and power generation in New South wales. It has similar level significance for being the largest power station in NSW for at least first five years of operation. Its pre-eminent part in relieving NSW from the drastic power shortages and blackouts during the late 1950s and playing a major role in restoring power supply to NSW after the partial state shut-down of 11th September 1958 and total state power shutdown of 10th June 1964. Wangi Power Station was the last of the Railway's power stations to be built, and the last one to close, and represents the transition from Railways to Elcom as the predominant power generation authority in NSW.

Wangi Power Station was the first New South Wales power station specifically planned to be sited at the coalfields, primarily to supply remote consumers via long-distance transmission lines (as distinct from Lithgow which mainly powered the electrification of the western rail line, and served local needs). As the pioneer of the basic concept on which all later major New South Wales power stations have been planned, Wangi Power Station exemplifies the change from city-based to coalfields-sited power stations, a change which led to dramatic reductions in power costs and in city pollution.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Wangi Power Station and Elcom have a strong association with the prominent Railways Chief Electrical Engineer, W.H. Myers, who was heavily involved with power generation in NSW for many years. Soon after becoming Chief Electrical Engineer in 1925, Myers was proposing a state-wide electricity generation and distribution system under one authority, and based on power stations sited at the coalfields. Myers played a major role in the selection of Wangi Wangi as the best site for a coalfields station, and was involved in the initial specification and design of Wangi Power Station, prior to his retirement in 1946. Through its association with W.H.Myers, Wangi Power Station embodies the basic philosophy on which Elcom was founded, and is a fitting memorial to the man who was one of the earliest proponents of that philosophy.

Wangi Power Station was a major Elcom project for Colin Smith of C.H.Smith & Johnson, Architects. Although Smith did not design Wangi Power Station, he took it through several structural changes, and detailing of finishing trades, while remaining faithful to the concept and design of the original Railways architect (not yet identified). Wangi Power Station is significant for its association with Colin Smith, who was important to Elcom as the architect of a number of its projects (including a number of power stations and a city building) in Elcom's early developmental period.

Wangi Power Station was a centre of the state-wide 35-Hour Week Campaign, one of NSW's longest running and most significant industrial working conditions disputes since World War.

Wangi Power Station was Elcom's main centre for training technicians, operators, engineers, and apprentices, who came from all areas of Elcom and went on to work in power stations and other Elcom jobs all around the State. Wangi Training Centre was "recognized as one of the most advanced training centres for power station operations in the southern hemisphere".

Wangi Power Station is closely associated with the companies of Charles Parsons and Company Limited and the Babcock and Wilcox Company, two historically important names in Australian and International power generation, and the two most famous companies in the world associated with the manufacture of turbo-alternators and boilers.

Wangi Power Station has special social and cultural associations for the descendants of its workers from the region, and further, is crucial to the Wangi communities sense of place.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Wangi Power Station has state (and even national) significance for; being aesthetically distinctive, showing creative and technical innovation, being associated with the creative accomplishments of an eminent Architect, and for continuing to act as a prime exemplar of a particular style of architectural expression. Wangi Power Station is significant for its intended position as the "show piece" of power generation in the state. Its position as a show piece is evidenced by the excellence of its architectural design, by the high quality of workmanship in the brick cladding, and in the outstanding appearance and quality of design and materials used.

Wangi is probably the most aesthetically pleasing thermal power station (and one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all large modern industrial buildings) in New South Wales, or even Australia, for the quality and well-balanced design of the building itself, for the attractiveness of its setting, and for the sensitive way it has been fitted into its environment - an ideal siting of coalfields station, for proximity to both coal and cooling water. Wangi Power Station is significant for the manner in which the proportions and modulation of the design are handled with such skill and balance that the great bulk of the building is scarcely realized and it never overpowers its landscape setting. It owes the sophistication of its detailing to Colin Smith of CJ Smith and Johnson, Architects.

Wangi Power Station is significant as a prime example of industrial architecture influenced by the Expressionist school, as developed and inspired by the work of Peter Behrens and the Deutscher Werkbund in Germany before the First World War. Wangi Power Station is an excellent example of the early idea of functionalism in architecture, wherein the outer envelope of the building is designed to express the functions within. Wangi Power Station is significant for the sophisticated manner in which its diverse functions have been integrated in an architectural design which expresses those functions without sacrificing an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

The Broken Hill Proprietary Limited / British Petroleum experimental methods for agglomeration and slurry pumping of coal, (with as yet unproven prospects of cleaner burning and cheaper, safer coal transport), were first applied to a power station situation and to steaming coal, at Wangi. The University of New South Wales experiments on plasma ignition of pulverised fuel boilers, with huge potential for saving oil and reducing costs, were first used to light a full-scale boiler at Wangi.

The "B" Section of Wangi Power Station had the first hydrogen-cooled alternators in any Australian power station, a technology which is now almost universally adopted. B Section was also the first power station that burned pulverized coal.

Wangi Power Station continued to produce power for 30 years (1956-1986). Up to the end of 1984, Wangi's No.4 turbo-alternator unit had accumulated the greatest number of total operating hours of any generating unit in New South Wales.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Wangi Power Station was a centre of the state-wide 35-Hour Week Campaign, one of NSW's longest running and most significant industrial working conditions disputes since World War Two.

Wangi Power Station was the first large coalfields power station in the Hunter Region, and so originated marked changes in the mining of coal, in the use of coal within the Region, and in employment and population distribution in the Region.

Wangi Power Station is significant in the social history of industry in New South Wales, through the remarkable loyalty and longevity of employment of many of its former employees, and for the way in which these employees brought about the unusual integration of Wangi Power Station with the life, purpose, and direction of its local community of Wangi Wangi. It was by far the most important source of employment and income in the surrounding area for approximately 25 years.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Wangi Power Station has state level significance because it is an important benchmark and reference site for the state's energy supply industry that has potential to reveal historical and scientific information unavailable elsewhere.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Wangi Power Station is of state significance as a rare example (in Australia) of industrial architecture influenced by the Expressionist school. It is significant for its rarity as a modern power station designed and built with its architectural appearance, as an integral part of its landscape and environment to the forefront of its design parameters, rather than using purely technological and economic factors to dictate the design.

Wangi Power Station is one of the last major buildings in Australia to have a structural frame of riveted steel. Further it is significant for its construction method, which incorporated an early use of the 'fast tracking idea', whereby one end of the building was in full production before the other was fully erected.
Integrity/Intactness: The main power station building, chimney stacks, cooling water intake tunnels, vents & outlet channel and Clearspan Store remain in the landscape setting aong with a few small outbuildings. The main building is in a poor condition. Almost all internal and external infrastructure and facilities have been removed.
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
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementCMP - Wangi Power Station  
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
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.

FRANK SARTOR
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

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0101402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - State Heritage Registercurtilage revision Wangi Power Station Complex0101424 Aug 18 825542
Heritage Act - Under consideration for SHR/IHO listingWangi Power Station Complex curtilage revision    
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 7918 Mar 98   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Section 170 register199879Pacific Power  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBill Bottomley2016Remembering Wangi Power Station - Oral Histories View detail
OtherBrett Patman2017Lost Collective View detail
WrittenC & MJ Doring1990'Wangi Power Station Heritage Study'
WrittenEJE Architecture2000Wangi Power Station Conservation Management Plan
WrittenMark Fetscher2018The Power Makers: the Evolution of the Coal Fired Power Station in New South Wales
WrittenPaul Davies Pty Ltd.2006The former Wangi power station : a conservation management plan

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

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5014146
File number: S97/00082/001; EF14/4831


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