Grafton Bond Store and Sandstone Wall | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Grafton Bond Store and Sandstone Wall

Item details

Name of item: Grafton Bond Store and Sandstone Wall
Other name/s: Part of Maritime Centre, Price Waterhouse Building
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Government and Administration
Category: Office building
Location: Lat: -33.8636630934 Long: 151.2032164340
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
PART LOT1 DP813557
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Hickson RoadMillers PointSydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address
201-217 Kent StreetSydneySydney  Alternate Address
Napoleon StreetMillers PointSydney  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
NSW MaritimeState Government 

Statement of significance:

Grafton Bond has historic significance as a remnant of what was claimed to have been the largest bond store complex in Australia. It is a complex building redolent of the busy wharfage area of earlier times and of a large mercantile facility which was once an important part of the city. It has aesthetic significance as an excellent example of urban commercial utilitarian design, by an eminent Australian architect, William Wardell and its design displays the Northern European influence evident in much of the work of the architect, such as the three stepped gable parapets on the eastern elevation. Its recent refurbishment and well contrived juxtaposition with modem glass towers is a most successful conservation project. It has scientific significance for its fine craftsmanship and its clever response to the hilly terrain of this part of Sydney.
Date significance updated: 24 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: William Wardell (1881 sections)
Physical description: The building stands monument like in Hickson Road below the glass towers in Kent Street, a juxtaposition of new and old which, when seen from the west across the water, is one of the most engaging views of Sydney. The building is long and narrow, four and five storeys high at Hickson Road, and three above the rock shelf behind. The Hickson Road facade three bays with plain parapeted gables, one with eaves and two with stepped parapets, one of which curves gracefully around the Napoleon Street corner. The lowest storey is sandstone. The east side, which once faced Jenkins Street, has three stepped gable parapets in the northern European manner, with catheads at the top. Internally the structure is of heavy hardwood posts and girders, with joists, herringboning and timber flooring. Some of the king post roof trusses are visible. It has recently been refurbished with the addition of two masonry service sections to the east linked by a partly glazed access gallery. The walls are built in English bond, of cream bricks believed to have been brought from Newcastle-on-Tyne as sailing ballast. The Dutch gables bear the date 1881 and a monogram formed in red bricks, presumed but without certainty, to be John Frazers. The depressed pointed arches and round arches over openings, and banding in the walling, are laid in red-orange bricks. (Sydney City Council 1989)

The sandstone wall is a substantial cutting of the natural sandstone, on which a cut stone wall has been constructed, increasing the scale and providing level access to properties at Kent Street. A park reserve has been introduced at the top of the wall, adjacent to MSB offices. Once defining the natural harbour foreshore, the wall now forms an eastern boundary to Hickson Road. (Anglin 1990:1043)

The unusual inverted 'V' voussoirsin contrasting brickwork, stepped parapet and curved corner contribute to the striking street facade. (Anglin 1990:1032)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition. (Sydney City Council 1989)
Date condition updated:07 Nov 00
Modifications and dates: Two of the original 1881 stores were demolished for the widening of Hickson Street in 1925. The building was refurbished and added to when the Kent Street Maritime Building was erected. The effect on the old building was the construction of two eastern appendages: the larger at the south end containing services, ancillary spaces and escape stairs in a curved design; the smaller at the north end containing stairs and an elevator. They employ complementary forms and colours. Between these a three-level partly-glazed access gallery was added, its bullnose roof cutting across the wide point. The third store was demolished in 1960s. Extensive conservation and refurbishment works were undertaken in 1988 as part of the redevelopment of the adjoining site with a modern multi-storey building. (Sydney City Council 1989) (Anglin 1990:1032)

Recent construction of sandstone walling to the north. (Anglin 1990:1043)
Current use: Offices/Training Room
Former use: Bond Store/Warehouse


Historical notes: Grafton Wharf was established at what was then Cockle Bay in about 1835. In 1881 it was bought by John Frazer and Co and was greatly enlarged, so that by 1886 it had a frontage to the east side of Darling Harbour of 430 feet, and three piers 'capable of receiving and shipping cargo of any character and weight'. In 1886 there were 14 warehouses, with a large capacity of some 44,000 tonnes of cargo and facilities for pressing1600 bales of wool a day. It was claimed to be the largest bond warehouse complex in Australia. The building now known as Grafton Bond was part of this complex. In 1888 the stores became the property of Burns Philp & Co Ltd. The present building is a remnant of a much larger complex. The other components of the complex that survived the dramatic changes brought about by the 1893 depression and the redevelopment by the Sydney Harbour Trust, were demolished with the formation of Hickson Road in 1925, which cut across the whole Grafton Wharf site. At that time even this last large building was altered, though it remains largely as it was designed by William Wardell, one of Australia's greatest architects. Incorporated into the new Maritime Centre in the late 1980s, the refurbished Grafton Bond has been successfully adapted for this reuse. (Sydney City Council 1989)

The sandstone wall was associated with the growth of wharf facilities and the expansion of the western side of the city, and provides a level access to properties at Kent Street. (Anglin 1990:1043)

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)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Industry-Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site is associated with the historic development of wharfage and mercantile facilities in this area of Sydney. It is a remnant of what was claimed to be the biggest bond store complex in Australia. It is part of the Dutch-influenced over of William Wardell, one of Australia's most eminent 19th-century architects.(Godden Mackay Pty Ltd 1996) The sandstone wall is significant for its association with the growth of wharf facilities and expansion of the western side of the city. (Anglin 1990:1043)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The former Grafton Bond building is a skilled piece of design in bichromatic brickwork and sandstone, using bricks imported from Britain. The style displays the Northern European influence evident in much of the work of the architect, William Wardell. Prominent on a curved corner site, it is a fine and bold element in the streetscape. Its refurbishment and incorporation into a design focussed upon the new, large scale buildings, separated by an effective plaza, has aesthetic value as a good example of adaptive re-use and infill development. (Godden Mackay Pty Ltd 1996) The sandstone wall is significant for its distinctive and prominent contribution to Hickson Road and vicinity. (Anglin 1990:1043)
Further research required.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The sandstone wall is significant for its distinctive and prominent contribution to Hickson Road and vicinity. (Anglin 1990:1043) Further research required.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building displays fine craftsmanship, demonstrating traditional materials, forms, structures and details. Its integration into a dramatically steep rocky site is masterful. (Godden Mackay Pty Ltd 1996)
SHR Criteria f)
The combination of a number of related unusual aspects, including the use of very uncommon British bricks, display a strong Dutch influence, and an unusual, gracefully curved end, make it particularly rare example of warehouse design.
SHR Criteria g)
Grafton Bond is representative of the historic development of wharfage and mercantile facilities in this area of Sydney. It is also representative of the work of William Wardell, one of Australia's finest architects. (Godden Mackay Pty Ltd 1996)
Integrity/Intactness: Original or early form, facade configuration, materials and details (all facades). Internal structure including timber posts, beams, floor construction, roof framing, including trusses and rafters. (Godden Mackay Pty Ltd 1996)
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 Record converted from HIS events

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
The maintenance of any building or item on the site where maintenance means the continuous protective care of existing material.
Sep 18 1987
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 0143118 Apr 00   
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Local Environmental Plan LEP199225 Mar 98   
Heritage study 213308 Aug 96   
National Trust of Australia register   11 Feb 74   
Within a National Trust conservation area West Rocks23 Jul 73   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Maritime Services Board Heritage and Conservation Register : Sydney Harbour19901032 & 1043Anglin Associates  No
Marine Ministerial Holding Corporation S170 Register1999 Heritage Unit, Department of Public works & Services  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenD.Sheedy1973National Trust of Australia (NSW) Classification
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW)1973National Trust of Australia (NSW) Classification/West Rocks Area

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: 5050220
File number: S90/02140

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