Walsh Bay Wharves Precinct | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Walsh Bay Wharves Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Walsh Bay Wharves Precinct
Other name/s: Walsh Bay Wharves; Millers Point; MSB Bond Store No.3; Parbury Ruins
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Transport - Water
Category: Wharf
Location: Lat: -33.8569379572 Long: 151.2050198520
Primary address: Hickson Road, Millers Point, NSW 2000
Parish: St Philip
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT8 DP1018716
LOT9 DP1018716
LOT19 DP1035380
LOT22 DP1035380
LOT27 DP1035380
LOT31 DP1035380
LOT101 DP1048376
LOT102 DP1048376
LOT103 DP1048376
LOT61 DP1048377
LOT62 DP1048377
LOT63 DP1048377
LOT64 DP1048377
LOT65 DP1048377
LOT1 DP1057496
LOT2 DP1057496
LOT3 DP1057496
LOT4 DP1057496
LOT5 DP1057496
LOT23 DP1071597
LOT24 DP1071597
LOT1 DP1071601
LOT2 DP1071601
LOT4 DP1071601
LOT5 DP1071601
LOT1 DP1087746
LOT2 DP1087746
LOT50 DP1097482
LOT51 DP1097482
LOT52 DP1097482
LOT53 DP1097482
LOT54 DP1097482
LOT11 DP1138931
LOT12 DP1138931
LOT60 DP1145156
LOT61 DP1145156
LOT62 DP1145156
CROWN LAND63 DP1145156
LOT1 SP64174
LOT2 SP64174
LOT3 SP64174
LOTS1-17 CP/SP66821
   CP/SP69546
LOT1-51 SP69546
   CP/SP69906
LOT1-141 SP69906
   CP/SP69997
LOTS1-30 CP/SP70152
   CP/SP70153
LOT12 DP737191
LOT13 DP737191
LOT14 DP737191
LOT15 DP737191
LOT16 DP737191
LOT17 DP737191
LOT10 DP737193
LOT2 DP737193
LOT3 DP737193
   CP/SP73724
   CP/SP73989
   CP/SP73990
   CP/SP73991
LOTS1-78 CP/SP76902
   CP/SP78843
   CP/SP81004

Boundary:

Pontoon area is not included in SHR listing boundary.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Hickson RoadMillers PointSydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address
All Pottinger StreetMillers PointSydney  Alternate Address
Towns PlaceMillers PointSydney  Alternate Address
Downshire StreetMillers PointSydney  Alternate Address
Parbury LaneMillers PointSydney  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW MaritimeState Government06 Aug 97

Statement of significance:

The Walsh Bay area is of State cultural significance due to its unique combination of steep rocky terrain, early, mid, late-Victorian and Edwardian housing, surviving relatively intact Victorian bond stores, and the results of an early twentieth century urban redevelopment scheme of unique scale: the magnificent timber wharf and shore structures and associated rock cuttings, roads and bridges (Clive Lucas Stapleton & Partners 1999: 75). The Walsh Bay Wharves and associated buildings and works are a virtually intact port and stevedoring facility created by the Sydney Harbour Trust in response to the requirements of maritime trade at the time (1900s-1910s). The precinct documents the workings of a technologically advanced early twentieth century shipping port, developed specifically to accommodate new mechanised transportation technology. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:5) The wharves have a strong distinctive character created by the logical use of heavy timber construction and the regular grid layout of piles, columns, beams and infill cladding. (Little, Clarke, Whittaker 1979) The precinct is unified in materials, form and scale and contains structures demonstrating maritime uses. It demonstrates the life of inner Sydney in the early twentieth century. The precinct demonstrates technical and creative excellence of the period 1820-1930. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:5)

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON CONTEXTUAL SIGNIFICANCE SEE 'MILLERS POINT CONSERVATION AREA'
Date significance updated: 15 Feb 00
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: H.D. Walsh
Builder/Maker: Supervised by H.D. Walsh
Construction years: 1912-1921
Physical description: Integrated port precinct comprising wharves, shore sheds, bond stores, bridges and roads. A standard modular timber design was developed for the wharves, wharf sheds and shore sheds so that they could easily be adapted to the requirements of individual sites. Some structures predate the Sydney Harbour Trust work (remains of Towns Bond, Bond Stores Nos. 1 & 3).

The wharves are constructed of turpentine piles spaced on a 10ft grid, come spliced together to reach down to rock 145ft below sea level. Rows of piles are capped with a 14in by 14in iron-bark headstock and tied together by 12in by 12in iron-bark girders at 3ft 4in centres. The whole was covered with 9in by 4in brush-box decking. Later this was covered with a 4in thick concrete deck.

The wharf sheds (typically two storey) are of simple post and beam construction with 14in by 14in hardwood storey posts at 20ft centres supporting 12in by 9in joists and 12in by 12in bearers covered with 9in by 4in hardwood decking and 5in by 2in diagonal sheathing. The joists are supplemented with adjustable steel trussing. Oregon roof trusses forming a double gable are supported on 11in by 11in hardwood storey posts at 20ft centres. Ventilation and clerestory lighting are features of the wharf shed roof. Wall cladding consists of 20ft wide infill panels of hardwood weatherboards, sliding doors, glazed sashes or galvanised iron. Roofs are galvanised iron or asbestos cement. Travelling platforms run the full length of the wharf shed.

Shore sheds are of similar construction but typically irregularly shaped. They sit on solid fill retained by the precast concrete sea wall. The shed facades to Hickson Road are of brick.

Overpass Bridges above Hickson Road give access to the upper levels of each shore shed. Hickson Road which was quarried from the sandstone cliffs gives sea level access.

Wharf 1 is a long shore wharf with cement rendered wharf shed facade to Hickson Road. Outstanding feature is deep timber balcony to Harbour side end.

Wharves 2/3 and 4/ 5 are finger wharves with two storey wharf and shore sheds, brick facades to Hickson Road.

Wharf 6/7 is a finger wharf with one storey wharf shed and two storey shore shed, brick facade to Hickson Road.

Wharf 8/9 is a finger wharf with two storey wharf and shore shed and adjoining administration block, overhanging top storey.

An improved rat proof sea wall designed by Walsh. It was 'L' shaped and constructed of precast reinforced concrete trestles and erected at Walsh Bay between 1907 and 1910. (Little, Clarke, Whittaker 1979)

The hydraulic power system of wharves 8 and 9 is one of the most important power systems developed in the nineteenth century. The system includes the accumulator, pump and electric motor, the high pressure pipes and 3 ton hydraulic lift and two hydraulic hoists and was an essential part of the operations of the wool handling wharves, supplying power to lift hoists and the original wool dumps (bale presses). Other original features include bale elevators, bale elevator platforms, remnants of the bale stacking systems, trucking gangway and openings for the nine hinged wool chutes. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:4)

Other industrial and engineering artefacts include ladderways, bale hoists, overhead pulley systems, floor hatches, wooden rollers, a hydraulic ram and cat hoists, overhead travelling cranes, a lifting beam, electric lifts, wool bale drops, wool slides, hoist wells, mooring piles and heavy timber bracings. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:4)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is fair. Archaeological potential is medium. (Possible archaeological deposits underneath the buildings and roads).
Date condition updated:06 Aug 97
Further information: As a heritage item Walsh Bay is integral with Millers Point. For further contextual information see the entry for 'Millers Point Conservation Area'.
Current use: Wharf 1 - restaurants and entertainment; Wharf 4/5 - theatres, restaurants etc
Former use: Wharves for import-export trade.

History

Historical notes: The rocky terrain of Millers Point limited its early uses to fortifications (Dawes Point and Observatory Hill), anchorage for whalers (Walsh Bay) and windmills (the orginal Millers Point). Economic growth and population pressures resulted in more intensive settlement by the 1820s and land ownership was confirmed by a number of Crown grants in the 1830s.

The decade of the 1830s marks the firm beginning of the continuum of development which ended in the 1920s and which gives Millers Point/Walsh Bay its remarkable historic character today.

By the 1830s the present basic road system (Kent Street, Argyle Street, Windmill Street and Lower Fort Street) had appeared together with the earliest buildings still existing. (eg St Brigid's Church 1835). In the 1830s and 1840s substantial merchants' residences appeared (eg Robert Campbell's Bligh House 1833), together with the hotels (eg Lord Nelson 1834, Hero of Waterloo 1844) and the Garrison Church (1840). The north shore ferry began operating from Walsh Bay to Blues Point in the 1840s, the location of its wharf still indicated by Ferry Lane. Other shipping wharves had appeared at Millers Point by the same decade, scattered irregularly along the shoreline from Dawes Point to Darling Harbour. Warehouses and hydraulic equipment were developed to service these wharves from the 1830s. Substantial construction of private terrace housing also occurred between the 1840s and the 1890s and led to the area being substantially built-up by 1900.

The residential character of the area changed during the late nineteenth century and the wealthier, who were concentrated along Argyle and Lower Fort Streets, gradually moved to more desirable suburbs with the growth of the city. Their place was taken, and the rows of terraces filled with the working population which serviced the waterfront. By the end of the century the area was considered to have substandard housing.

In 1900 the bubonic plague broke out in The Rocks and other parts of Sydney, causing widespread alarm and the resumption of most of The Rocks and Millers Point by the Government. Control of the area passed to the port authority, the Sydney Harbour Trust (later the Maritime Services Board, 1936). The Trust's primary commercial aim was to redevelop the wharfage along modern lines. However, because of the quantity of housing under its control it became landlord for Millers Point and between 1900 and the 1920s effectively transformed the area into a type of 'company town'. As well as the reconstruction of Walsh Bay, the Trust, together with the Government Housing Board, constructed workers' housing, shops, kindergartens, hotels and warehouses and also refurbished and reconstructed many existing buildings. In this way the population which serviced the port was accommodated nearby with all its community facilities. By 1930 Millers Point had been reshaped into its present form by the Trust and the area and the nature of its population have changed little since then, apart from a declining component of port workers in the population.

The Trust's greatest engineering work in Millers Point was the reconstruction of Walsh Bay. In doing this they made the second major modification to the landscape since the cutting of quarries above Kent Street and the making of the Arglye Cut in the early 19th century. The Engineer-in-Chief of the Trust, H.D. Walsh (after whom the bay was subsequently named), designed and constructed a new system of wharves, stores and associated roads and hydraulic systems to service them. A wide service road, Hickson Road, was excavated around the foreshore and the steep topography was used ingeniously to service the wharves at two levels. The wharves were technologically advanced for the time. They were constructed on a standard modular timber design and incorporated an innovative and successful ratproof seawall. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:3-4)

Construction of the whole complex took place between 1906 and 1922. Wharf 1 was completed in 1913. Wharf 2/3 and sheds were completed in 1920-1921. Wharf 4 /5 and sheds completed in 1920-1921. Wharf 6 /7 and sheds completed in 1918. Wharf 8 /9 and sheds completed in 1912. The Administrative Block was completed c1912. Wharf 10A /10B was completed in 1906-1908 and sheds altered in 1918-1921 but later demolished in 1976. (Little, Clark, Whittaker 1979)

Superseded by changing shipping technology in the 1970s, the Walsh Bay complex is believed to be the only one of its type surviving in the world.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures-Activities associated with maintaining, developing, experiencing and remembering Aboriginal cultural identities and practices, past and present. (none)-
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 (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences (none)-
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)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods (none)-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour (none)-
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. (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON CONTEXTUAL SIGNIFICANCE SEE 'MILLERS POINT CONSERVATION AREA'
The Walsh Bay Wharves and their associated infrastructure are a virtually intact port and stevedore works created by the Sydney Harbour Trust in response to the requirements of maritime trade at that time. The precinct documents the workings of a technologically advanced early twentieth century shipping port, developed specifically to accomodate new mechanised transportation technology. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:5)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The wharves have a strong distinctive character created by the logical use of heavy timber construction and the regular grid layout of piles, columns, beams and infill cladding. (Little, Clarke, Whittaker 1979) The precinct is unified in materials, form and scale and contains structures demonstrating maritime uses. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:5)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The precinct demonstrates the life of inner Sydney in the early twentieth century. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:5)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Walsh Bay Wharves and associated infrastructure demonstrate technical and creative excellence of the period 1820-1930. (Department of Urban Affairs and Planning 1989:5)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Last intact complex of its type in the world.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Best example of characteristic early 20th century port infrastructure in Sydney.
Integrity/Intactness: In original condition but threatened by redevelopment.
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:

Conservation plan

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsement14 Hickson Road - Conservation Management Plan submitted for endorsement - Miriam Stacey PMNSW  
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementWharf 2/3 CMP  
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions See File For Schedule


Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
(2)The minor repair of any building or item where minor repair means the repair of materials by patching, piercing-in, splicing and consolidating existing materials and including minor replacements of minor components such as individual bricks, cutstone, timber sections, tiles and slates where these have been damaged beyond reasonable repair or are missing. The replacement should be of the same material, colour, texture, form and design as the original it replaces and the number of components it replaced should be substantially less than existing.
(3) Maintenance and repairs of existing access roads.
(4) Tree lopping and vegetation clearance associated with the maintenance of existing overhead lines by the Sydney County Council.
(5) The repair and maintenance of service infrastructure.
Jun 23 1989
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions Heritage Act, 1977

Order Under Section 57(2)

I, the Minister for Local Government and Minister for Planning on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977, do, by this order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of the said Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of an activities described in Scedule 'C' by the owner, mortgagee or lessee of the land described in Schedule 'B' on the items described in Schedule 'A'.

David Hay
Minister for Local Government and Minister for Planning

Sydney 11 September 1989

Schedule 'A'
the Walsh Bay Finger Wharves, Numbered 1 to 9 and associated interconnecting buildings and bridges across Hickson Road; the adjacant buildings and structures fronting Hickson Road and Towns Place; and part of Hickson Road, Towns Place, Pottinger Street and Downshire Street, Millers Point, situated on the land described in Schedule 'B'.

Schedule 'B'
All those pieces or parcels of land shown edged in heavy black on the plan catalogued H.C.1538 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

Schedule 'C'
* Change of use;
* Subdivision;
* The demolition of the buildings known as: the substation, Hickson Road; Bond Store Nos. 1 (excepting the eastern wall), 4, 5, 6 & 7 Hickson Road; the office adjoining to the east Bond Store No. 4 Hickson Road; the flammable liquid stores and substation, Hickson Road; and the Maritime Services Board depot, workshop and garage, Towns Place;
* The demolition of the works known as Hickson Road, Towns Place, Pottinger Street and the Windmill Stairs provided that design details of new construction be approved by a sub-committee of the Heritage Council of New South Wales before work commences on the demolition;
Sep 15 1989
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementWalsh Bay Precinct CMP Consists of Volumes A, B, C, D. This CMP is an overview document for the whole precinct - there are detailed CMPs for individual elements within the precinct. Apr 21 1999
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementBond Store 4 East CMP CMP for Bond Store 4 East (20/7/99) Jul 20 1999
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementPottinger Street & Adjacent Areas CMP Pottinger Street & Adjacent Areas CMP (20/7/99) Jul 20 1999
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementPier 8/9 CMP Pier 8/9 CMP (20/7/99) Jul 20 1999
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 0055902 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0055925 Feb 88 401147
Regional Environmental Plan  01 Jun 89   
National Trust of Australia register   15 Sep 76   
Within a National Trust conservation area     
Register of the National Estate     

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Sydney Theatre View detail
Tourism 2007The Sebel Pier One Hotel View detail
Tourism 2007Sydney Dance Company View detail
Tourism 2007Simmer on the Bay View detail
Tourism 2007The Wharf Restaurant View detail
Tourism 2007Bangarra Dance Company View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Bangarra Dance Company View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007The Sebel Pier One Hotel View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Simmer on the Bay View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Sydney Dance Company View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Sydney Theatre View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007The Wharf Restaurant View detail
WrittenB. Little, S. Clarke, W. Whittaker1979National Trust Classification Card - Walsh Bay Wharves
WrittenDepartment of Urban Affairs and Planning1989Walsh Bay - Regional Environmental Plan No. 16
WrittenHenderson, Geraldine2003Trust concedes 'facadism' fits after the war of the wharves.
WrittenLyndall Crisp2004A sense of drama arrives at the docks - SMH 9/1/04
WrittenOtto Cserhalmi & Partners Walsh Baywharves precinct pier 8/9, 23 Hickson Road, Millers Point : photographic recording and archival recording
WrittenRobert V. J. P. Varman2003Bond 4 East (Area 32) Windmill and Pottinger Streets, Walsh Bay Excavation Report in 3 volumes
WrittenTropman & Tropman2001Towns Place north (site 46) at Walsh Bay precinct Walsh Bay Sydney NSW 2000 : Conservation management plan

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

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(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: 5045067
File number: S96/00384/ & S90/03322


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