CBC Bank (former) | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


CBC Bank (former)

Item details

Name of item: CBC Bank (former)
Other name/s: CBC Bank, NAB Bank, Barrack House
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Bank
Location: Lat: -33.8674873154 Long: 151.2066756340
Primary address: 343 George Street, Sydney, 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
LOT2 DP771947
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
343 George StreetSydneySydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address
16-20 Barrack StreetSydneySydneySt PhilipCumberlandAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
SAS Trustee CorporationState Government03 May 99

Statement of significance:

343 George Street is historically significant as the former headquarters of one of the leading banks in New South Wales, the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Ltd., which had occupied this site since the 1850s until its merger with the National Bank in the 1980s.

The design and execution, scale, form and materials of this building combine to present an extremely fine expression of the qualities and aspirations of a leading, well established and respected bank from the 1920s at a time when great confidence and trust was placed in banks such as the CBC.

The building is significant as a good and early example of the Commercial Palazzo style. The Ground Floor, Lower Ground Floor Safe Deposit Vault and area, and surviving original interiors of the executive areas are exceptionally fine and rare examples of design and craftsmanship of their period, The Banking Chamber and Safe Deposit area are the finest and most intact marble finished bank interiors from the early 20th century in Sydney, the only comparable interiors being the Westpac Bank next door, and the former State Savings Bank in Martin Place, both of which depend in large part on faux marble ('scagliola') for their effect. The principle Ground and Lower Ground Floor spaces are fitted with a collection of exceptionally fine and now rare Australian marbles. The circular Chubb Safe Deposit Vault door is the earliest, as well as one of only two, doors of its type in Australia, the other also being in Sydney.

The elegant grandeur of the banking chamber space with its fine marble and bronze finishes and fittings and the play of natural and artificial light within it evoke the stature, role and functions of one of Sydney's former leading banking institutions.

The building was designed by architects Kent and Massie and is arguably the finest commercial building to be produced by this partnership. It was built by the firm of Stuart Brothers. Both firms made prominent contributions to Sydney's architecture in the first half of the 20th century.

Together with its neighbour, the Westpac Bank, and other nearby significant building of the 19th and early 20th centuries, 343 George Street forms part of an imposing group which visually closes the western end of Martin Place and the north side of Barrack Street. (Design 5 Architects, 2002)
Date significance updated: 26 Nov 02
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.


Construction years: 1921-1925
Modifications and dates: 1923- George Street portion rebuilt, desinged by Kent & Massie;
1939- Hydroelectric bullion lift installed, serving basement, main banking floor and first floor;
1939- New bronze windows replace existing steel windows (steel had rusted);
1955- Alterations to lifts and partitioning of 5th floor;
c1973- Installation of new light fittings in banking chamber (IES Award for Meritorious Lighting received);
1973- Alterations to 5 office floors;
1976- Repartitioning on 2nd and 9th floors desinged by Laurie & Heath;
1984- Partitions and fitout of 1st floor;
1984- Internal high windows removed from exsting 2nd floor Managing Director's Office, bricked up and a frieze installed over;
1984- Refurbishment of lower ground floor;
1986- Timber portion of teller counter on ground floor renovated;
1987- Disused lift front opposite Barrack Street entrance on ground floor retained in original location and converted to a doorway;
1987- New sections of infilll marble installed to match existing counters on ground floor;
1987- New cash counters installed behind existing marble-faced counter;
1987- New stair and partition to back lane on ground floor;
1987- Chandeliers fitted with new opal acrylic spheres and bawon and new gallery,maintaining rose;
1990- Installation of bronze double doors on Barrack Street;
2000- Signage for a temporary exhibition of Gianni Versace works;
(Design 5 Architects, 2002)
Current use: Bank
Former use: CBC Bank, NAB Bank


Historical notes: The building was completed in 1925 for the Commercial Banking Co of Sydney, which was acquired by the National Australia Bank in 1981. (The Australian - Property 25/8/2000)

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 (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
343 George Street is an extremely fine and representative example of a grand commercial banking headquarters in the Palazzo style. It contains a remarkably intact interior, its arrangements representing a fine expression of commercial and public banking operations in the inter-war years in the city of Sydney (Design 5 Architects, 2002).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
It was the Headquarters of one of New South Wales' most important banking companies, purpose-built to enhance the reputation of that enterprise. It is associated with architects Kent & Massie, being one of their finest buildings, and builders Stuart Brother, both prominent in commercial buildings operations in Sydney and in the early 20th century (Design 5 Architects, 2002).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
343 George Street has the ability to demonstrate extremely fine design qualities of both structure, form, decoration, fittings, fixings and furniture. It also incorporates workmanship and design of the very highest quality in the State. The design and execution of both Australian and Carrara marble is unique in NSW. The circular Chubb vault door was the first to be imported and remains one of only two in the Southern Hemisphere, the other being in the Commonwealth Bank in Martin Place (Design 5 Architects, 2002).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
As the former Headquarters of one of New South Wale's most important banks, 343 George Street may retain special associations with former clients and employees (this has not been researched for this report) (Design 5 Architects, 2002).
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The design, craftsmanship and technology evident in the building, its fittings and finishes are fine and increasingly rare examples of the very high quality of construction and workmanship (Design 5 Architects, 2002).
SHR Criteria f)
The interior public areas of this building - the main banking hall and foyer areas of the lower ground floor are of a type and scale now rare in Sydney and beyond. It is the finest marble finished banking chamber in New South Wales retaining its original furniture, fixings and finishings intact. It also contains one of only two circular Chubb vault doors of their type in the southern hemisphere (Design 5 Architects, 2002).
SHR Criteria g)
343 George Street demonstrates all the qualities and attributes of the headquarters of a major 20th century national bank. In its quality and intactness - public areas and private banking offices - it is a remarkable survivor of a class of commercial buildings, now considered irrelevant to the image of the modern commercial bank. Most other redundant banking chambers of this type have been generally altered beyond recognition due to changes in use (Design 5 Architects, 2002).
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 Grant exemptions from subsection (1) of section 57 of the said Act, in respect to the engaging in or carrying out by the owner, mortgagee or lessee of the land described hereafter of any activities set out in Schedule A within the areas described in Schedule B being parts of the building known as 'The Former CBC Bank', 343 George Street, Sydney.
Schedule A
(i) alterations, except where these would affect the external appearance of the building;
(ii) change of use;
(iii) maintenance and repair.

Schedule B
(1) Basement level 1;
(2) Lower ground floor, except vault areas, lift lobby and stair vestibule;
(3) All lifts, shafts, ducts, plant and machinery rooms, electrical switchboards and conduits and fire stairs other than marble fire stairs;
(4) Office Floor 1;
(5) Office Floor 2 with the exception of executive offices on the southern side of the building;
(6) Office floors 3 and 4;
(7) Office floor 5 with the exception of the winter boardroom on the south eastern side of the building;
(8) Floors 6-10.
Apr 18 1986
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsement343 George Street Sydney CMP, prepared by Tanner Architects, of 2 volumes. CMP endorsed by Heritage Council 16 April 2002 for a period of five years, expires 16 April 2007. Apr 16 2002
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 0042802 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0042818 Apr 86 641707

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045362
File number: S90/01294 & HC 32711

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