Frederick Ash Building | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Frederick Ash Building

Item details

Name of item: Frederick Ash Building
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Warehouse/storage area
Location: Lat: -32.9272481966 Long: 151.7729669440
Primary address: 359-361 Hunter Street, Newcastle, NSW 2300
Parish: Newcastle
County: Northumberland
Local govt. area: Newcastle
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Awabakal
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT2 DP1010675
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
359-361 Hunter StreetNewcastleNewcastleNewcastleNorthumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Newcastle City CouncilLocal Government25 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

The Frederick Ash Building characterises the presence of small business associated with tradesmen and their residences in Newcastle at the end of the 19th century.

The building represents the town's development and the possibilities available to tradesman in a growing country. Major developments in mercantile and shop fitting enterprise and direct association with important building phases, activities, events and people were a result of this period.

The building also reflects the importance of the evolution of the architect. It is an example of work by Frederick Menkens who was influential in designing and shaping early 20th century Newcastle. He enriched English architecture of Newcastle through his German 'romantic' background. It came to be known as a Romanesque revival due to his mastery of brick construction and detailing (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 6.3.2).

Frederick Ash was a tradesman turned merchant who was able to prosper in conjunction with the growth of Newcastle. The business supplied the building trade of Newcastle and expanded to serve the surrounding districts and developed some specialist markets such as shop fitting. The retail shop was the public face of Frederick Ash's hardware enterprise. His business reflected the building needs and availability of resources and trades in the Newcastle area and attracted people to that part of town. Frederick Ash introduced new products to the area, some imported but many specially manufactured in his own enterprise.

The Frederick Ash Building is a significant element in the evolution and pattern of the history of Newcastle and to a lesser extent NSW (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 6.3.2).
Date significance updated: 20 Mar 07
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: Frederick. B. Menkens
Construction years: 1904-1905
Physical description: The Frederick Ash Building was built in 1904-1905 (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 4.0). It has a distinguished facade which contributes considerably to this lively and historic streetscape (National Trust List as cited in Annexure C of Godden/Mackay, 1992). This building is a fine example of a small scale commercial building in the Romanesque style which contributes to the historic landscape (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 6.3).

The building is 60 metres long and 15 metres wide. The front section is 21 metres long and 4 storeys high while the rear section is 30 metres long and 3 storeys high. There are 12 equal bays on eastern side and 13 equal bays on western side (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 4.0). The building has a four-storey faade in three bays articulated by large end piers and smaller intermediate ones. The fine brickwork is red-brown in colour. The first and third floor windows have semicircular arched heads, those at first floor level being treated as Diocletian windows with multiple panes in the semicircles. The windows of the second floor have segmental arched openings and the skyline is elaborate with brick machicolation, stepped piers with corbelled tops. The words 'FRED ASH LTD' can be seen on the parapet above the skyline. On a panel above that, it states, 'ESTAB 1855' (National Trust List as cited in Annexure C of Godden/Mackay, 1992).

The ground floor has a tall ceiling sheeted with decorative pressed metal in the five northern bays, which also have slender columns of cast iron. The staircase, at the rear of the building, is of timber with turned timber balustrade (National Trust List as cited in Annexure C of Godden/Mackay, 1992).

The first floor has wide semicircular front windows and in the front bas, ceilings, cornices and beams casings of pressed metal with Art Nouveau decorative panels. There are attached brick wall piers of bull-nose bricks on all storeys. The floors are of timber and there are toilets at this level (National Trust List as cited in Annexure C of Godden/Mackay, 1992).

On the second floor are the former offices, which have some remnants of fine joinery and panelling. There is a central row of timber posts supporting the lateral timber beams and the ceilings are mainly of ripple iron (National Trust List as cited in Annexure C of Godden/Mackay, 1992).

The third or top floor has 14 inch brick perimeter walls. The central posts are timber-bracketed. The goods elevator at the rear services all floors. Above this the timber boarded ceiling serves also as an attic floor beneath a collar-tied rafter roof which is covered with terracotta tiles (National Trust List as cited in Annexure C of Godden/Mackay, 1992).
Former use: Aboriginal land, farm, commercial store

History

Historical notes: The Frederick Ash Building is located within the area bound by Hunter, Burwood, King and Wheeler Place/Plaza in Newcastle. The area was part of a grant of 2,000 acres made to the Australian Agricultural Company (A.A. Company) in 1829. The A.A. Company introduced large scale coal mining in Newcastle even exporting to the East India Company (Annual Company Returns to New South Wales Securities Comm. As cited in Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.2). The A.A. Company held a monopoly over control of the Newcastle mines until 1853. During this time, government policy did not allow them to sell off small parcels of the land. However, when the A.A. Company relinquished sole rights of the mine to the government in 1853, they were allowed to sell blocks of land which saw the township of Newcastle move westward (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.2).

A portion of land was purchased by Frederick Ash under the common business name of Fredrick Ash Limited or Fred Ash Limited est. 1855 when he was 23 years old. In 1860 Frederick Ash went into partnership with James Norsworthy. In 1860-1861 Ash and Norsworthy were recorded as owning and occupying a shop of iron construction in King Street and the adjoining property and wooden house owned and occupied by Frederick Ash (Newcastle Morning Herald, 9th September 1897 as cited in Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.2.4). The partnership lasted 6 years as Norsworthy returned to England due to ill health (Wilfred James Goold, The Birth of Newcastle. P.5-6 as cited in Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.2.4).

The Frederick Ash Building was designed by F. B. Menkens. It was built in 1904-05 as a warehouse for Frederick Ash. It appears to have served as a retail showroom with office and storage space on upper floors. Frederick Ash used this building to sell hardware and store building materials with workshops and packing rooms behind (National Trust List as cited in Annexure C of Godden/Mackay, 1992).

Frederick Menken was born in the 1850s in Germany. It is likely he left Europe because of the political unrest there and to escape military service. He migrated to Australia in the 1870s whereby he established a practice in Maitland in 1881. In Germany Menken's gained experienced whereby he worked for 6 monthly periods during summer as a bricklayer, stonemason, carpenter, plumber, painter and clerk of works. During winter he studied at building academies focusing on the theoretical and artistic aspects of his profession. At the end of this five year period he entered the Royal Polytechnicum at Hanover and received his diploma in architecture (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.10.1). Menken's design is significant because of its rarity as an example of a small scale commercial building in the Romanesque style which contributes to the historic landscape (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 6.3).

Frederick Ash Limited was an innovative company listing for sale galvanised, corrugated and plain iron, sheet lead, cements, electrical materials, white leads, oils, 53 varnishes, British plate and sheet glass, builders' ironmongery, household ironmongery, brushware, mouldings and paper hangings. In 1897 Frederick Ash Limited advertised the arrival of goods from overseas (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.3.5). In 1908 Frederick Ash Ltd advertised themselves as merchants and importers with head offices. They boasted of a warehouse in Hunter Street West, bonded and free warehouses in Burwood Street as well as a galvanised iron warehouse in Church Street. They also had a London Office located at 556 Mansion House Chambers, 11 Queen Victoria Street, S.W. (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.3.7). In 1929 the company was described as merchants, importers and manufacturers, specialists in building material. Frederick Ash also had the advantage that Sydney firms did not compete for work in Newcastle (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.3.7). The company had offices in Cessnock, Sydney, Leichhardt,
Marrickville, Lismore and Wollongong (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.8).

Time Line of Company

1887: Floated as a Limited Liability Company under the name of 'Fredc Ash, Limited' (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.8).

1891:London office opened to 'regulate the export of English and Continental merchandise'(Godden/Mackay, 1992:20, Section 3.3.4).

1920:The original Frederick Ash Limited went into liquidation and a new company of the same name was formed, acquiring the assets of the earlier company.

1937:Change of company name to Frederick Ash Pty. Ltd.

1955:Name of company reverted to Frederick Ash Limited.

1977:Name of company became Frederick Ash Pty. Ltd (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.8.).

1969:The company was taken over and became a wholly own subsidiary of Swans Limited and the Hunter Street property was sold and occupied on a leasehold basis (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.9.).

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 Developing discrete retail and commercial areas-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Trading along the NSW coast-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Shopkeeping - Timber and Produce Department-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Warehousing and storage for commercial enterprises-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Developing Commercial Enterprise-
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 Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Commencement and evolution of a coal shipping port-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. coal transport and handling-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Mining-Activities associated with the identification, extraction, processing and distribution of mineral ores, precious stones and other such inorganic substances. Mining for various minerals-
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 1820s-1850s land grants-
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 Suburban Centres-
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 Early farming (Cattle grazing)-
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 Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
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 Granting Crown lands for private farming-
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 Sub-division of large estates-
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 Illustrates early ownership and occupancy of land within the Hunter Region-
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 19th 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 Subdivision of urban estates-
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 Commercial store, shop-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Frederick Ash building as the public face of the Frederick Ash enterprise, and is a significant element in the evolution and development of the City of Newcastle. The Frederick Ash complex is associated with the development of a major mercantile and shop fitting enterprise and with Frederick Ash himself who was a tradesman, who became a successful business man. (Godden/Mackay, 1992, pp 152).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building is associated with successful enterprises which in this case is synonymous with the name Frederick Ash (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 7.3). Frederick Ash built up an empire which enabled him to open new stores both here and overseas as demand and new technology increased for his product (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.3.7)

The Frederick Ash Building also provides a link to a classic example of work by Frederick Menkens who was influential in designing architecture in Newcastle at the time. He used his German 'romantic' background to create a Romanesque revival exhibiting his mastery of brick construction and detailing (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 6.3.2).

In 1884 he advertised his professional skills as considerable continental and eight years experience in Australian Colonies with a Diploma as an architect from the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, of Hanover (Germany). He was also the author of several prize designs of Prominent Public Buildings (Godden/Mackay, 1992, Section 3.10.3.).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Frederick Ash faade is a significant townscape element within the City of Newcastle. The building relates to others in the street, through its size and detailing. The facade is of finely articulated brickwork vigorously modelled with a mastery rare in Australia. The faade is a masterly example of the Victorian Romanesque style applied to a small commercial building. The Frederick Ash building is remarkable for the variety and quality of its brick detailing within a classically ordered arrangement. The building is a significant element in an historic visual corridor along Hunter Street (Godden/Mackay, 1992, pp151).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The retail building has had strong social and cultural links with the Newcastle community for a period of 87 years. The site had a significant role as a hardware merchandiser for the community. The site was a significant provider of services, facilities, goods and new developments in hardware and homemaking for the local community and the building rate. The Frederick Ash retail building is a well known local landmark. (Godden/Mackay, 1992, pp. 153)
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building has potential to yield information about its construction through physical examination of its fabric. The building exhibits an unusual degree of fine brick detailing and specially fabricated components. The retail store in its role as an importer of innovatory materials and products was a link with overseas technology for the local community. The site contains an early electric passenger lift with a fine timber lined lift car. The site has archaeological potential and is likely to contain structural elements and deposits covering a period of Newcastle's history between the 1850s and 1900s, which have potential to yield information unavailable from other sources. (Godden/Mackay, 1992, pp 152).
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The rear warehouse section is significant as a representative of the relatively small scale warehouse architectural type. The front retailing section is significant as a representative example of an early twetieth century decorative style associated with retailing.
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:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementReview a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementConservation Plan CMP endorsed by the Heritage Council 5 September 1994 for a period of five years, expires 5 September 1999. Sep 5 1994
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 0064202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0064226 May 89 643155
Local Environmental PlanFrederick Ash Building (former)I41715 Jun 12 64 

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Management PlanGodden Mackay Pty Ltd1994Frederick Ash Building Conservation Plan and Civic Site Archaeological Assessment
WrittenHeritage Council of NSW paper file: ; HC32198
WrittenParris, Michael2018'Key sites go to market'

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 Office
Database number: 5045387
File number: EF14/5040; S90/6094


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