Old London Bank Building | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Old London Bank Building

Item details

Name of item: Old London Bank Building
Other name/s: Gidgee Guesthouse
Type of item: Built
Location: Lat: -30.0893942566 Long: 145.9348678300
Primary address: 17 Sturt Street, Bourke, NSW 2840
Parish: Bourke
County: Cowper
Local govt. area: Bourke
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Nulla Nulla
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
17 Sturt StreetBourkeBourkeBourkeCowperPrimary Address
Oxley StreetBourkeBourkeBourkeCowperAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated

Statement of significance:

The Old London Bank in Bourke was built on the site of the town's first land sale in 1862. The bank reflects the
opulent buildings that sprang up during the town's boom period when Bourke was a major river port for the expanding wool trade. (AHC press release, 5/04)

The site of the old London Bank is able to demonstrate the planning of the township of Bourke and its early subdivision. The old London Bank is an important and rare example of Victorian style bank architecture resulting from a period of prosperity in the region and the prediction of continuity. It demonstrates Bourke's recognition of financial institutions and business people asd a significant inland riverport, rail head and business centre important in the further development of western NSW at the turn of the century and in the early decades of teh twentieth century.

The combined banking chamber and residence retains it two storey Victorian character, form and planning and contributes to the historic streetscape. It is the only surviving example of nineteenth century banking in Bourke.

The barracks and dining room are reminders of a period of ownership by Tancred Brothers , a significant local industry, and its use as a boarding house for thier employees, many of whom were migrants.

The old London Bank is a major landmark in Bourke. The site's sucessful adaptation as backpackers accomodation is evidence of the growth of two new industries in Bourke - that of tourism and heritage. (Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)
Date significance updated: 30 Nov 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: Terry and Oakden, architects based in Melbourne
Builder/Maker: attributed to local builders / architects Perry and Hawken
Construction years: 1886-1888
Physical description:
The former London Chartered Bank is located at 17 Oxley Street, Bourke and is bound on the north by a laneway, the southern side by Oxley Street, the eastern side by Sturt Street. The site consists of 5 builfdings.

1. A two-storey brick Victorian Filigree Style commercial building facing onto Oxley Street and Sturt Streets.
This building has a single story wing extending to the west of the property. The brick construction of the two-storey wing is tuck-pointed Flemish bond. The single storey wing is of stretcher bond. The roof of the two storey wing of the building is hipped with gabled roof vents and constructed of slate. The single storey wing roof is hipped and is constructed of slate except for a section on the northern section which is of corrugatedsheet metal.

The two storey section of the building is surrounded on 3 sides by deep verandah on both levels. "The ground floor verandah consists of a brick balauster with piers at intervals and a stone copping...Paired, fluted cast iron posts are positioned above each brick pier... The columns hhave a faceted base, decorative capitals, infill panel and brackets. Double sided cast iron panels with a Gothic tracery motif from a railing between the paired columns. The upper verandah follows the same theme without the brackets." (C aroline Plim 2004 History aand Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)The arched portico entry to the banking chamber from Sturt Street is position centrally in the eastern facade and is approached by white marble steps.

The entry to the former Bank Manager's residence is located toward the western end of the southern facade of the building off Oxley Street. Its arched door opening with highlight window and side lights and timber mouldings give the entrance suitable prominance.

The interior of this building comprises the former bancking chamber ( the area is now used as common area for guests) accessed through an entrance hall and also the bank managers office( now used as part of the accomodation for the guesthouse manager). These rooms retain many original features such as original joinery and a black marble fireplace although the original plaster lathe ceilings are covered by a new ceiling. The rear wing comtains the former residence kitchen and living dining room complete with pressed metal ceilings and servery , parts of an internal bell pull system and the original Metters kitchen stove . Other rooms on this level include the a bathroom and former bedroom and store.
The upper level of the building is accessed by the original decorative timber staircase and the second storey rooms retain much of their original detailing suchas cornices, doors etc.

2.A single storey concrete block building located adjacent to and north of the original kitchen.
This was added in 1943 and fuctioned as the kitchen for the boarding house established on the site by the Tancred Brothers to house thier Bourke employees. It is now a kitchen/dining room for the current back packer accomodation (described here as building 3.) It can be accessed through an opening between the residence dining/living room and this room and has a deck at its eastern end which has replaced a narrow verandah running between this building and the verandah of the residence.

3.Accomodation wing formerly known as Tancred Brothers Boarding hHouse.
This is an L shaped, painted, concrete block building with a half gabled hip corregated iron roof located on the east and northern boundaries of the property.The building contains a series of 11 bedrooms opening onto a verandah that runs along the building and opens onto a garden.

4. Ablutions block
At the north western end of this building is a relatively newly constructed toilet and shower block

5. Laundry Store Room
A single storey brick building located at the north west corner of the residence.

(Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)

Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Building 1.
The former bank and residence has suffered some masonry cracking through poor drainage and the results of vandalism and neglect. Upper floor verandah collapsed and is being reinstated. Timber window shutters are similarly being repaired or reinstated.

Some of the interior of the bank and residence has sustained damage through neglect and work has begun to repair this and restore original features.

Building 2.
The former Tancreds dining room requires maintenance to remediate masonry cracking and external timber deterioration

Building 3.
The Accomodation wing - former Tancred Brothers boarding house has sustained damage to the barge baords and the half gable at the end of the roof.
Modifications and dates: 1943 Construction of Tancred boarding house adjacent to the Bank building and residence
1943 Construction of the Tancreds boarding house dining room
1950s enclosure of verandah for bathroom facilities
installation of extra toilets in an annex next to the banking chamber and externally on the northern arm of the verandah
2001 construction of additional toilet and shower facilities in north west corner of the site.
Current use: Guesthouse
Former use: Bank


Historical notes: This information has been compiled with reference to Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank

1862, prior to the first sale of land at Bourke, William Sly, JosephBecker and John Kelly are thought to have constructed the first buildings in Bourke on the Banks of the Darling River on what was to become Lots 245 and 6 of Section 1 and Lots 1,2,3 and 5 of Section 2 located next to the punt. Sly and Kelly established the first Bourke hotels on thier land and Becker established a store. William Sly established his hotel on Lot 5 Section 1 and also owned Lot 6 which is the site of the Old London Bank.

Bourk was proclaimed a township in 1862 and quickly grew and developed. By 1872 the township's businesses could offer residences all the necessities of domestic life - bakers cordial manufaturers, tailors and a jeweller, fruit and vegetables from the numerous market gardens as well as the needs of the workday world such as a blacksmithand wheelwright. Bourke spawned the first of the local newspapers in 1968 and communications were facilitited by the Post Master, Joseph Becker form the early days of the towns establishment.

The growth and developmen tof Bourke continued throughout the 1890s and the early decades of the twentieth century. The telegraph system of communication was supplimented with telepohne in 1911and electricity became available in the early 1930s.

With development grew numerous industries. There were two Bourke breweries operating by 1881 as wella s woolstores and the meat processing and export industry was established in 1889. The local meat business, Bourke Meat Works closed in 1900 and it was not until 1938 that it was replaced by Tancred Brother Pty Ltd who established an abbatoir in Bourke in 1938. This business prospered and continued to operate through the 1970s.

The industiry and business interests in the Bourke community were supported by a growing financial and banking sector. The first Bank to open in Bourke was the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney in 1965, this was followed by the Australian Joint Stock Bank in 1875, the Bank of NSW in 1877 and by 1881 the London Chartered Bank was established in the town, the bank was restructured in 1888 becoming the London Bank of Australia. Most of these banking operation had started their operations in rented rooms in the business district. As they firmed thier position in the comunity most banks purchased property and constructed imposing premises from which to operate.

In April 1887 the London Chartered Bank purchased Lot 6 Section 1 which had by this time passed from the ownership of William Sly to Henry and George Colless and eventually to George Allen, Charles Cowper and Jane Becker. By 1887 a prominant firm of architects from Melbourne, Terry and Oakden had been commissioned to design the new London Chartered Bank building and residence.The building was completed by 1889 and the bank operations and the then Bank Manager's family, the Gledhills moved into the premises on 12 February 1989.

The building housed the operations of the London Bank of Australia from 1989 to 1942. In 1920 the bank was amalgamated with the ES& A bank. During these years the Bank and its Managers became part of the fabric of the political social and business life of the Bourke community. The Bank Managers families were involved in community affairs such as local sporting event, council business and charatiable activities. One Bank Manager, Mr Gledhill became Mayor of Bourke and inevitably the Bank as part of its business operations came to hld substantial interests in local pastoral land through the process of administering mortages on properties.

In 1942 the Bank closed its operation in Bourke due to the wartime rationalisation scheme which aimed to free up personnel so they could enlist or contribute to the war effort. The building was purchased in 1942 by the a Sylvia Faith Randall whoo immediately transferred ownership to Tancred Brothers who by this time had built a boarding house or hostel on the adjacent property to house their abbatoir staff.

The hostel was run by a series Managers who were either women or couples. It operated as a hostel until the 1970s. Initially rent was paid directly to the Tancred Brothers who then paid the Managers.Later a system was established where the Manager collected rent and paid a portion of it to Tancred Brothers. While initially confined to the hostel or barracks building, with an increasing demand for accomodation not only from Tancred employees but also itinerant shearers and others, the boarding house operations gradually encroached onto the Bank premises. In 1943 a dining room building was built directly adjacent to the living room and kitchen of the original residence. The manager and her family lived in the original residnce and eventually some of Tancreds more senior employees also lived in rooms in the original residence.

In 1946 the Commonwealth Savings and Tradings Bank leased the former banking chambers at the Old London Bank. The design of the building ensured that secure banking operations could be maintained even if other parts of the original residence continued to serve as a boarding house and accomodation for the boarding house managers family. The chambers had by this time been partitioned into accomodation quarters and Tanreds agreed to remove these, repair and pant the walls, windows and doors, clean the area and install certain fitting for the bank. The bank operated from the Old London Bank's chanbers until 1956 when it was again used to accomodate the seasonal surges in Tancred staff numbers. Tancred's operations in Bourke were addected by the periods of drought, industrial action and shifts in the market demand for their products during the 1960s and 1970s. During this period the bank building's use as accomodation quarters ceased and the hostel quarters adjacent closed in 1972.

In 1981 the Bank building was bought and used as a residence and secondhand furniture repair shop. In 1988, the Bourke Historic Buildings Coop purchased the buildin with a grant from the NSW Heritage Council. Some restoration was undertaken at this time . In 1993 a Permenant Conservation Order was gazetted for the Old London Bank.

Between 1993 and 1997 the Cornerstone Community established back packer accomodation on the premises and again there was some maintenance work and rennovation undertaken during the lease period but towards the end of the tenure some structural problems were identified which required quite extensive maintenance and replacement work.

Between 1998 and 1999 vandalism exaccerbated the maintenance problems .

In 2001 and agreement was struck between Chris Ware and Kristie Smiles and the Bourke Shire COuncil ( fdor the Historic Building Coop) the property which allowed for teh conservation an drepair of the building " in consideration of future ownership" Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank). The work began in 2001 and the premises was opened as the Gidgee Guesthouse in 2002.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Banking-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The configuration of the site of the Old London Bank of Australia demonstrates the first subdivision of allotments for the township of Bourke in 1862. It is evidence of a period of economic expansion in Bourke in the nineteenth century that encouraged banks to establish larger more permanent officers in the Darling River Town thus facilitation the settlement and development of the then remote areas of western NSW.

The premises were operated exclusively as a bank and managers residence for 53 years. Closure of the branch in 1942 was evidence of the pressure on Australian financial institutions to rationalise staff and resources in support of the war effort. The construction of the 'barracks' and Tancred's dining room c.1943 on the site is evidence of Tancred Brother's provision of accomodation for their employees, including many new migrants. The continuing, though sporadic use of the buildigs dor accomodation reflects ongoing demand for casual lodging for itinerant workers and tourists. The site and its buildings continue to nmeet the needs of the local tourism industry at the same time emphasising several phases of Bourks rich heritage and its contribution to the opening up and development of the State during the late nineteenth century and early decades of the twentieth century.

(Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Old London Bank, Bourke is associated with the rapid development and gradual implementation of controls on the Australian Banking industry in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The building is associated with the managers, the staff and thier families who came to Bourke for professional reasons and participated in and contributed to community activities. It is also associated with the banks local clients who relied on the bank for financial advice and to support thier business interests.

The Old London Bank has a strong association with Tancred Brothers Pty Ltd through the boarding housenthat they established on the site c. 1943 to accomodate meatworks employees. Fluctuations in the need to accomodate the rural workforce reflected cycle of boom and bust in the Australian Meat and Livestock industry.

The design of the Old London Bank is associated with Terry and Oakden, prominant bank architects based in Voctoria. The design of the building is not typical of the style for which they are best known. although the face brick treatment is reminiscent of Oakden.

(Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Old London Bank is a good example of the character and style of financial institution architecture of the Victorian era. Like other bank building the combined banking chamber and residence demonstrates the scale planning, symmetry and landmark qualities associated with public buildings. The scale and detailing of the impressive edifice demonstrates the social and economic importance of banking and banks. The building is evidence of the status that nineteenth century banks with to convey to customers and their optomism about the town's future. As such the building is a landmak building in the streetscape and provides a link with ither ninteenth and early twentieth century elements in Oxlet Stree such as the Post Office and Court House.

The deep verandah, sliding timber shutters and closable wall vents are important in demonstrating the methods architects Terry and Oakden, to deal with a hot and dusty enviroment such as that found in areas in western NSW

(Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Old London Bank is held in high regard by the community as demonstrated by its inclusion oin the Register of the National Trust, the State Heritage Register ( SHR 00764), State Heritage Inventory (No. 1220004) amd Bourke Shire Council's LEP Heritage Schedule (18/12/1998

The old London Bankhas a strong association with the Bourke community as a reminder of the significance of the bank as an institution integral to rural investment. It has a special association with the families of Bank Managers who were posted to Bourke, for whom it was often the first experience of life in western NSW.

The building's survival into the twentiy first century, adaptation for tourist accomodation adn restoration is evidence of the community's awareness and appreciation of Bourke's heritage.

{Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Old London Bank has potential to yeild information that will contribute to an understanding of the building materials and methods used in building in hot and dusty, outback environments such as Bourke in western NSW.

Some of the site is relatively undisturbed and has the potential tio provide evidence of prior occupation in addition to superceded structures such as the stables, coach house, drains, cisterns and wells.
SHR Criteria f)
The Old London Bank is a rare example of a nineteenth century banking building institution in Bourke. It is a rare reminder of Bourke's boomtime period and reputation as a key inland port, railhead and pastoral centre crucial in the opening up and development of western NSW in the late nineteenthe and early twentieth century.
(Caroline Plim, 2004 History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)
SHR Criteria g)
The scale, form and planning of the Old London Bank is braodly representative of regional bank architecture of the late nineteenthe century.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Refer to file for schedule

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) Maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing fabric, but excluding renovation, repairs (other than those of a minor nature and extent), restoration or repainting.
(2) Minor repairs where minor repair means the repair of materials by and includes replacement of minor components such as individual bricks 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 they replace.
(3) Alterations to the interior of a building which are of a minor nature and will not adversely affect the significance of the building as an item of the environmental heritage.
(4) Conservation and restoration works in accordance with a conservation plan approved by the Heritage Council of New South Wales.
(5) Garden maintenance including cultivation, pruning, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls, tree surgery but not extensive lopping;
Jul 16 1993
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 0076402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0076416 Jul 93 0803963

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAccommodation Information Page2007Gidgee Guesthouse View detail
Management PlanCaroline Plim2004History and Significance Assessment Gidgee Guesthouse, Site of the Former London Chartered Bank)
TourismVisit Bourke2007Bourke Heritage Walk View detail

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

(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045129
File number: S91/00408/002

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