Maitland Post Office | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Maitland Post Office

Item details

Name of item: Maitland Post Office
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Postal and Telecommunications
Category: Post Office
Location: Lat: -32.7336561998 Long: 151.5572392870
Primary address: 381 High Street, Maitland, NSW 2320
Parish: Maitland
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Maitland
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Mindaribba
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT10 DP814200
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
381 High StreetMaitlandMaitlandMaitlandNorthumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Australia PostFederal Government 

Statement of significance:

As a substantial public building the Maitland Post Office is an exemplar of the Victorian Italianate style, incorporating a corner tower of considerable land mark value. The building is associated with Colonial Architect James Barnet and is representative of the group of Italianate post offices designed by Barnet. It is substantially intact and of importance in these respects at the State level.
Date significance updated: 01 Dec 99
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: NSW Colonial Architect's Office under James Barnet
Construction years: 1881-
Physical description: A two-storey, stuccoed brick Victorian Italianate post office with a corner clock tower/campanile, and a corrugated iron clad roof. The building is located in a visually prominent position, near a major intersection. The main facade to High Street has a round arched loggia at street level surmounted by a balcony with cast iron column supports. Openings to the windows and doors have heavily moulded arched lintels and quoins are expressed by grooved mock ashlar jointing. The facade is bisected horizontally by a deeply moulded stringcourse and a bracketed cornice carries the projecting eave. The treatment of the return elevation is less imposing. A two-storey, twentieth-century addition on the south is not part of this listing. (Australia Post Historic Properties Survey - NSW.)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:23 Nov 99
Modifications and dates: 1881 - constructed
1900 - addition
Current use: Post Office
Former use: Aboriginal land, town lot


Historical notes: The settlement began in 1818-21 with some convicts put to work 'cedar getting'. Originally known as 'The Camp', then as 'Molly Morgan's Plains' and 'Wallis' Plains' after the commandant at Newcastle. Maitland is a coal-mining and regional centre, subject to severe flood damage, which was the cause of the East Maitland Post Office being vacated (new Post Office on higher ground).

The original Telegraph Office was in a separate building on the opposite corner (an earlier building which was later occupied by the Water Board). (Australia Post Historic Properties Survey - NSW.)

The current Post Office building was designed by the Colonial Architect's Office under James Barnet and completed in 1881, replacing the original Post and Telegraph Office which was situated on the opposite corner of Bourke Street.

James Johnstone Barnet (1827-1904) was made acting Colonial Architect in 1862 and appointed Colonial Architect from 1865-90. He was born in Scotland and studied in London under Charles Richardson, RIBA and William Dyce, Professor of Fine Arts at King's College, London. He was strongly influenced by Charles Robert Cockerell, leading classical theorist at the time and by the fine arts, particularly works of painters Claude Lorrain and JRM Turner. He arrived in Sydney in 1854 and worked as a self-employed builder. He served as Edmund Blacket's clerk of works on the foundations of the Randwick (Destitute Childrens') Asylum. Blacket then appointed Barnet as clerk-of-works on the Great Hall at Sydney University. By 1859 he was appointed second clerk of works at the Colonial Architect's Office and in 1861 was Acting Colonial Architect. Thus began a long career. He dominated public architecture in NSW, as the longest-serving Colonial Architect in Australian history. Until he resigned in 1890 his office undertook some 12,000 works, Barnet himself designing almost 1000. They included those edifices so vital to promoting communication, the law and safe sea arrivals in colonial Australia. Altogether there were 169 post and telegraph offices, 130 courthouses, 155 police buildings, 110 lockups and 20 lighthouses, including the present Macquarie Lighthouse on South Head, which replaced the earlier one designed by Francis Greenway. Barnet's vision for Sydney is most clearly seen in the Customs House at Circular Quay, the General Post Office in Martin Place and the Lands Department and Colonial Secretary's Office in Bridge Street. There he applied the classicism he had absorbed in London, with a theatricality which came from his knowledge of art (Le Sueur, 2016, 6).

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 Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Communicating by mail-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Communicating by telegraph-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Post Office-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
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 Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Administering and alienating Crown lands-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with James Barnet, Colonial (Government) Architect 1862-90-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Maitland Post Office is highly representative of its period and is associated with the NSW Colonial Architect’s Office under James Barnet. It is part of an important group of works by James Barnet, a key practitioner of the Italianate style.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is an exemplar of the Victorian Italianate style, incorporating the characteristic corner tower and loggia. It is part of a group of post office buildings (including Kempsey, 1886, Kiam 1878, Cootamundra, 1880-1881, Redfern, 1882 and Yass, 1884) designed in the Italianate style and collectively illustrating a representative type.

The tower and asymmetrical facade impart considerable architectural presence to the narrow street and give the building landmark qualities.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
As a prominent and attractive civic building, the Maitland Post Office is considered to be significant to the community’s sense of place.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site has the potential to contain an archaeological resource, which may provide information relating to the previous use of the site, and to use by the Post Office.
SHR Criteria f)
Not assessed as being rare.
SHR Criteria g)
The Maitland Post Office is representative of the body of work of Government Architect James Barnet. It is also representative of the Victorian Italianate style and more specifically the group of Italianate post offices designed by the Government Archite
Integrity/Intactness: Integrity is fair, former main entrance replaced by a window, interior alterations.
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:

Preparation of a Conservation Management Plan

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
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 RegisterSHR Listing0131317 Dec 99 14112048
Local Environmental Plan 199303 Sep 93 0985526
Within a conservation area on an LEP     
National Trust of Australia register      
Within a National Trust conservation area     
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Significant Landscapes List  Australian Institute of Landscape Archictects (NSW)  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenApperly, Richard Identifying Australian Architecture
WrittenLe Sueur, Angela2016Colonial Architects - part 2
TourismTourism NSW2007Maitland Heritage Walk (central precinct) View detail

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

rez rez
(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: 5045378

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