Randwick Post Office (former) and Jubilee Fountain | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Randwick Post Office (former) and Jubilee Fountain

Item details

Name of item: Randwick Post Office (former) and Jubilee Fountain
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Postal and Telecommunications
Category: Post Office
Location: Lat: -33.9129421958 Long: 151.2418934610
Primary address: 124 Alison Road, Randwick, NSW 2031
Local govt. area: Randwick
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP788986
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
124 Alison RoadRandwickRandwick  Primary Address
Avoca StreetRandwickRandwick  Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Australia PostFederal Government 

Statement of significance:

Randwick Post Office is significant at a State level for its historical associations, strong aesthetic qualities and social value.

Randwick Post Office is historically significant because it is associated with the NSW Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon, and is part of an important group of works by Vernon, a key practitioner of the Federation Free style. Randwick Post Office is also associated with the pattern of subdivision and the development of communications services in the Randwick area.

Randwick Post Office is aesthetically significant because it is a fine example of the Federation Free style, with strong visual appeal. It is located on a prominent corner site and makes a significant contribution to the streetscape of the Randwick civic precinct.

Randwick Post Office is also considered to be significant to the community of Randwick's sense of place.

(Andrew Ward & Associates and Clive Lucas Stapleton and Associates, 2000)
Date significance updated: 22 Jun 00
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: NSW Government Architect: Walter Liberty Vernon.
Builder/Maker: WB Chessell.
Construction years: 1897-1898
Physical description: Randwick Post Office is a two-storey dark red double brick building of stretcher bond construction, in Free Classical style, with tuck pointed ashlar sandstone facing to street facades up to first floor balustrade level.

It has a predominantly hipped, complex terracotta shingled roof, fanned over the eastern faceted bay, with a crowning louvred gablet at the centre. Two brick and sandstone chimneys with terracotta pots penetrate at the north and south sides of the main building, with a third to the northern single-storey section.

There are pediments over the south and east stone mullioned windows on the ground floor, with an arcade to Alison Road and a continuous dentilled string course running through the pediment base level. There is scroll detailing below the leadlight oculus to the eastern facade and downpipes have been chased into the sandstone to the southern facade. Some segments of the pediment to the south facade have been replaced.

The roofline, with shaped rafter ends continues over the first-floor balcony, which is partially enclosed at the western end of the south side. The balcony roof is supported by squat brick and sandstone pillars, the walls have been rough cast rendered and painted cream and it has a bituminous floor covering.

(Andrew Ward & Associates and Clive Lucas Stapleton and Associates, 2000)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Post Office is in generally good condition and appears largely structurally intact.
Date condition updated:22 Jun 00
Modifications and dates: Major changes include:
The c1920s addition of the post office boxes to the northern side of the building, including the removal of original wall fabric
The addition of the men’s bathroom to the second floor
The addition of the ladies bathroom to the ground floor north west corner
Infill of the west end of the southern side of the upper balcony for the current storeroom
Removal of an earlier structure to the western end of the arcade at ground floor level (possibly earlier postal boxes)
Construction of the centre stud walls to the ground floor retail space
The construction of the linking bridge at the first floor with removal of wall fabric
Installation of internal timber and glass partitions to the ground and upper floors and subsequent reconfiguration of these spaces
Brick infill of the fireplaces
Removal and infill of doorway to ground floor eastern façade below oculus and removal of Post Office signage.

(Andrew Ward & Associates and Clive Lucas Stapleton and Associates, 2000)
Further information: There is an intrusive Telstra building adjacent to the northern façade of the Randwick Post Office.
Current use: Currently used for postal delivery and dispatch, no longer retail
Former use: Post Office

History

Historical notes: pre-1780s - local Aboriginal people in the area used the site for fishing and cultural activities - rock engravings, grinding grooves and middens remain in evidence.
1789 - Governor Philip referred to 'a long bay', which became known as Long Bay.
Aboriginal people are believed to have inhabited the Sydney region for at least 20,000 years (Turbet, 2001). The population of Aboriginal people between Palm Beach and Botany Bay in 1788 has been estimated to have been 1500. Those living south of Port Jackson to Botany Bay were the Cadigal people who spoke Dharug (Randwick Library webpage, 2003), while the local clan name of Maroubra people was "Muru-ora-dial" (City of Sydney webpage, 2003). By the mid nineteenth century the traditional owners of this land had typically either moved inland in search of food and shelter, or had died as the result of European disease or confrontation with British colonisers (Randwick Library webpage, 2003).

Colonial History:
One of the earliest land grants in this area was made in 1824 to Captain Francis Marsh, who received 12 acres bounded by the present Botany & High Streets, Alison & Belmore Roads. In 1839 William Newcombe acquired the land north-west of the present town hall in Avoca Street.

Randwick takes its name from the town of Randwick, Gloucestershire, England. The name was suggested by Simeon Pearce (1821-86) and his brother James. Simeon was born in the English Randwick and the brothers were responsible for the early development of both Randwick and its neighbour, Coogee. Simeon had come to the colony in 1841as a 21 year old surveyor. He built his Blenheim House on the 4 acres he bought from Marsh, and called his property "Randwick". The brothers bought and sold land profitably in the area and elsewhere. Simeon campaigned for construction of a road from the city to Coogee (achieved in 1853) and promoted the incorporation of the suburb. Pearce sought construction of a church modelled on the church of St. John in his birthplace. In 1857 the first St Jude's stood on the site of the present post office, at the corner of the present Alison Road and Avoca Street (Pollen, 1988, 217-8).

Randwick was...slow to progress. The village was isolated from Sydney by swamps and sandhills, and although a horse-bus was operated by a man named Grice from the late 1850s, the journey was more a test of nerves than a pleasure jaunt. Wind blew sand over the track, and the bus sometimes became bogged, so that passengers had to get out and push it free. From its early days Randwick had a divided society. The wealthy lived elegantly in large houses built when Pearce promoted Randwick and Coogee as a fashionable area. But the market gardens, orchards and piggeries that continued alongside the large estates were the lot of the working class. Even on the later estates that became racing empires, many jockeys and stablehands lived in huts or even under canvas. An even poorer group were the immigrants who existed on the periphery of Randwick in a place called Irishtown, in the area now known as The Spot, around the junction of St.Paul's Street and Perouse Road. Here families lived in makeshift houses, taking on the most menial tasks in their struggle to survive.

In 1858 when the NSW Government passed the Municipalities Act, enabling formation of municipal districts empowered to collect rates and borrow money to improve their suburb, Randwick was the first suburb to apply for the status of a municipality. It was approved in Februrary 1859, and its first Council was elected in March 1859 (ibid, 218-9).

In April 1859 a number of residents of Randwick petitioned the Postmaster General for the opening of the mail service to the locality and establishment of a post office in Randwick. Thus, the first mail service to Randwick began in 1859, with a local store owner, John Grice, acting as the postmaster from his store and inn in Avoca Street.

In April 1887 Randwick Municipal Council decided to apply to have a purpose-built post office erected in Randwick. Following inspection of a number of sites, a portion of Church Land at the corner of Alison Road and Avoca Street was secured at a cost of (Pounds)30 per square foot. The land was resumed in April 1891, with a total cost of (Pounds)4,137 being paid. Tenders for construction of the building were called for in 1897, and WB Chessell was the successful tenderer. Work then began to a design by Walter Liberty Vernon, the New South Wales Government Architect. The Federation Free Classical style office was opened on 23 March 1898. The new building comprised a general office and vestibule occupying 38ft by 37ft, which included a postmaster's room and a telephone room. The postmaster's private residence comprised two living rooms, five bedrooms and a bathroom.

(Andrew Ward & Associates and Clive Lucas Stapleton and Associates, 2000)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
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 Resuming private lands for public purposes-
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 (none)-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in urban settings-
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 Developing suburbia-
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 Developing civic infrastructure and amenity-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Providing telecommunications facilities-
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. Developing roles for government - providing postal services-
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. Developing roles for government - building and operating public infrastructure-
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. Developing roles for government - facilitating telecommunications-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Designing structures to emphasise their important roles-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Federation Free Classical-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - Federation period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Gathering at landmark places to socialise-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Walter Liberty Vernon, Government Architect, private architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Randwick Post Office is historically significant because it is associated with the development of communications services in Randwick during the late nineteenth century, as the growing population required improved services. Randwick Post Office also provides evidence of the changing nature of postal and telecommunications practices in NSW.

Built on Church Land, the building is also associated with the pattern of subdivision and development of the Randwick area.

(Andrew Ward & Associates and Clive Lucas Stapleton and Associates, 2000)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Randwick Post Office is aesthetically significant because it is a fine example of the Federation Free Style, designed by Vernon, with strong visual appeal.

The architectural style and prominent location of the post office also make it a focal point of the Randwick civic precinct, endowing it with landmark qualities.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
As a prominent civic building, Randwick Post Office is considered to be significant to the community of Randwick’s sense of place.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site has some potential to contain an archaeological resource, which may provide information relating to the previous Church use of the site and use associated with the Post Office.

(Andrew Ward & Associates and Clive Lucas Stapleton and Associates, 2000)
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Randwick Post Office is a particularly fine example of the work of the NSW Government Architect W.L. Vernon.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Randwick Post Office demonstrates the principle characteristics of the group of post offices constructed in the late nineteenth century in NSW by the Government Architect’s Office.

Randwick Post Office is a strong example of the Federation Free style of architecture. It is also part of an important group of works by Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon.
Integrity/Intactness: The Randwick Post Office appears largely structurally intact, and retains the features which make it culturally significant including architectural features such as the asymmentry of the exterior, the classical colonnade and strongly contrasted materials, textures and colours, along with the prominence of the building in the streetscape.
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 which addresses the curtilage issues of the site and includes the outbuildings.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
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 0140923 Jun 00 735232
Local Environmental PlanLEP6826 Jun 98 97 
National Trust of Australia register  9324   
Royal Australian Institute of Architects registerRandwick Post Office 30 Mar 79   
Register of the National EstateRandwick Post Office176915 May 90   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenApperly, Irving and Reynolds1989A Pictorial Guide to Identifying Australian Architecture
WrittenAustralia Post Australia Post History File – Randwick SP32/1 Box 448
WrittenBridges and McDonald1988James Barnet Colonial Architect
WrittenDH Borchardt (ed)1987Australia: A Guide to Sources
WrittenNational Trust of Australia (NSW)1987Classification Listing Card – Randwick Post Office
WrittenNSW Gov’t Select Committee1903State Properties Transferred to the Commonwealth
WrittenPollon, Francis & Healy, Gerald1988Randwick entry in "The Book of Sydney Suburbs"

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: 5051250
File number: H00/00152


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