Transport House | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Transport House

Item details

Name of item: Transport House
Other name/s: Railway House; Greenhouse; Wynyard SRA Offices, Wynyard Walk
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Government and Administration
Category: Office building
Location: Lat: -33.8656288404 Long: 151.2054892150
Primary address: 19-31 York Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP1003146
PART LOT100 DP1015076
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
19-31 York StreetSydneySydney  Primary Address
City Circle RailwaySydneySydney  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Memo Corporation Australia Pty LtdPrivate 
Current use: Offices
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lots, Department of Transport Offices

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters (Heiss, Anita: "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani)..

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney (Heiss, Anita: "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani).

Wynyard and the entire Sydney city region was originally home to the Dharug Aboriginal group. Rock engraving sites, once widespread in the city area, demonstrate occupation, art and social systems of various groups. Some sites remain, but many have been lost beneath later development (CityRail, 2009).

The first fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour under Arthur Phillip's command in January 1788. Later that year military barracks were constructed, on the site where today's Wynyard station stands. The George Street Barracks was a prominent landmark and occupied 15 acres in the centre of the town. Various facilities developed around it, including pubs and eating houses. The wives of the soldiers lived just behind the barracks in rows of wooden huts in what is now Clarence Street (CityRail, 2009).

In 1836 the barracks were moved to Darlinghurst and soon after the old barracks at Wynyard were cut up and sold, with the exception of Wynyard Park. By the mid 1800s, Wynyard was a thriving retail centre and its surrounding streets were a prestige location for the banking community because of their proximity to the General Post Office and Martin Place. With a boom underway, fuelled by gold rushes and the wool industry, the NSW Railway opened in 1855, with a line from Central to Parramatta. People travelled by horse-drawn trams in the city, and these were replaced with electric trams on George Street in 1899. Wynyard Station opened in 1932, when the first electric train crossed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, linking the North Shore Line to the city (CityRail, 2009).

Transport House, otherwise known as Railway House, was constructed in the early 1930s as the administrative home of the New South Wales State Railways. The new headquarters, on York Street above the recently completed Wynyard Station, facing Wynyard Square, opened in 1935 (Dunn, 2008).

Transport House was designed by the architects Henry E Budden and Mackey. In 1933 they had won the Sulman Award for their design of the Primary Producers' Bank at 105 Pitt Street, (demolished in 1964). They went on to win the prize again in 1936 for the design of Transport House. The building was also awarded the Royal Institute of British Architects medal in 1939 (Dunn, 2008).

The new office building was intended as the railway headquarters and was to house all the departments that had previously been located at Central Station. The opening of the building represented a high point for the New South Wales State Railways, coming soon after the completion of the city underground system and the extension of the electric lines over the recently constructed Harbour Bridge (Dunn, 2008).

The original plans for the building were for a large, imposing office tower, extending along York Street from Margaret to Erskine Street, with horizontally aligned wings each side of the central vertical tower. However the eventual design only included the south wing and the tower. This has since been acknowledged as giving the art deco building a more modern look for the period than was intended, and as a consequence, enhancing its aesthetic appeal (Metcalf, 1997, 67; quoted in Dunn, 2008).

The building was clad above the ground level with distinctive green terracotta tiles which were the color of the railway carriages at the time. Green thus marked the building as belonging to the railways, and foreshadowed the use of the same green for Sydney's public transport network for a time, when buses, ferries and trams were also green. The steel and bronze components used in the building were manufactured at the railway workshops at Chullora. The construction was undertaken using day labour, a controversial decision in the middle of the Great Depression (Dunn, 2008).

When it was built, Transport House was considered to be one of the most modern in Sydney, with cutting edge design features. Much of the interior was art deco in style, the building was air conditioned throughout, and escalators, new in Sydney, ran down to Wynyard station below (Jahn, 1997, 131; quoted in Dunn, 2008).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Office use-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Developing real estate-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Building the railway network-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Building settlements, towns and cities-National Theme 4
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 20th century Suburban Developments-
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 urban settings-
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 Role of transport in settlement-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Public Transport - suburban railway lines-
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 administering rail networks-
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 - providing rail transport-

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
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

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0127102 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Local Environmental PlanCSH Local Environmental Plan 4 07 Apr 00   
Register of the National Estate  28 Sep 82   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCityRail2009'Meet the team at Wynyard Station' in "CityRail Update" issue #8, 2009
WrittenDunn, Mark2008Transport House building (entry) View detail
WrittenJahn, Graham1997Sydney Architecture
WrittenMetcalf, A.1997Architecture in transition: the Sulman Award 1932-1996

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 NSW
Database number: 5044984
File number: S91/02291/11


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