Petersham Service Reservoir & Site | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Petersham Service Reservoir & Site

Item details

Name of item: Petersham Service Reservoir & Site
Other name/s: Petersham Reservoir WS089
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Water
Category: Water Supply Reservoir/ Dam
Location: Lat: -33.8962424718 Long: 151.1558256470
Primary address: New Canterbury Road, Petersham, NSW 2049
Local govt. area: Marrickville
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT1 DP744897
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
New Canterbury RoadPetershamMarrickville  Primary Address
Shaw StreetPetershamMarrickville  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney WaterState Government27 Nov 98

Statement of significance:

Petersham Reservoir (Covered) (WS 89) demonstrates the high level of engineering skill available for the construction of late 19th century covered reservoirs. It belongs to a small group of covered reservoirs (Crown Street Reservoir (1859), Paddington Reservoir (1864), Woollahra Reservoir (1880), Waverley Reservoir No1 (1887), and the Centennial Park Reservoir No1), which together exhibit the changing technology used in construction. Petersham Reservoir (Covered) (WS 89) was the first reservoir to be commissioned after the completion of the Upper Nepean Scheme in 1888. The valve houses still contain the original switch gear, which is very unusual in the SWC system.
Date significance updated: 07 Jun 05
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.


Physical description: Petersham Reservoir (Covered) (WS 89) is a covered reservoir, with fill placed over its roof and grassed over. The enclosing mound is rectangular in shape, though the reservoir beneath is circular, partly excavated and partly raised in embankment. The reservoir is built with brick floor, walls and columns with cast iron beams. The roof comprises of three concentric concrete barrel arches, and is similar in design to Waverley Reservoir No. 1 (Covered) (WS 132). These are the only two reservoirs which possess this roof design, although the central arch has been removed by the construction of Petersham Reservoir (Elevated) (WS 204) in 1965. Access to the reservoir is now through the tower of Petersham Reservoir (Elevated) (WS 204). The site is surrounded by a polychrome brick wall, with the main entrance to the grounds from Canterbury Road. The entrance is flanked by two rectangular brick valve houses, each containing original valve control gear, as also found at Pymble Reservoir No.2 (Covered) (WS 98). The reservoir also has cast iron roof ventilation caps, as at Waverley Reservoir No.1 (Covered) (WS 132), Randwick Reservoir (WS 101) and Pymble Reservoir No.1 (Covered) (WS 97). Plantings include: oleander. Full Service Level: 51 m. Capacity: 9.1 ML. The site. A former Water Service Operator Office is located on the Canterbury Road frontage. It is a brick building, with hipped tile roof, Federation in style. The curtilage includes the covered reservoir, the brick wall, WSO cottage, valve houses and gates.
Modifications and dates: The construction of Petersham Reservoir (Elevated) (WS 204) in 1965 caused alteration to the central portion of the roof structure.
Further information: Crown Street Reservoir; Paddington Reservoir; Woollahra Reservoir; Centennial Park Reservoir No1., Waverley Reservoirs No.s - 133, 134, 136 (Elevated)


Historical notes: Petersham Reservoir (Covered) (WS 89) was commissioned in 1888 and was the first of the new reservoirs to come on line since the commissioning of the Upper Nepean Scheme in 1888. It initially supplied western Sydney and Illawarra suburbs, but with the amplification of storage in its former area of supply, it recently supplied only the low lying local areas. In 1888 a single main (No. 1 Main) delivered water from Potts Hill by gravitation to Petersham Reservoir (1888) and continued on to Crown Street Reservoir (1859). In 1935-1936, the southern system of supply mains needed major adjustment to use water from the Pressure Tunnel, including an offtake to Petersham Reservoir. In 1965, the City Tunnel supplied Petersham Reservoir (Elevated) (WS 204). Petersham Reservoir (Elevated) (WS 204) was constructed in 1965. It was integrated into the structure of the covered reservoir beneath, replacing the central portion of its roof. It enabled supply to the higher parts of the Inner West. Petersham Reservoir (Covered) (WS 89) is now empty.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Petersham Reservoir (Covered) (WS 89) was the first reservoir to be commissioned after the completion of the Upper Nepean Scheme in 1888.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Architectural detailing (polychrome brick walling and location of valve houses on either side of gate) demonstrates excellence in design, fitting in with the surrounding streetscape.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
This reservoir demonstrates the broad range of construction techniques and high level of technical expertise available for covered reservoir construction. All covered reservoirs are highly significant within the SWC system, since all differ in construction technology, design and architectural detailing. All therefore contribute to our understanding of the development of covered reservoirs in NSW.
SHR Criteria f)
One of a small group of large covered reservoirs in brick or concrete, each demonstrating differences in construction, design and architectural detailing. The first reservoir to be commissioned after the completion of the Upper nepean Scheme in 1888.
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 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 0133118 Nov 99   
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 121616   
National Trust of Australia register      

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Sydney Water Heritage Study1996121616Graham Brooks and Associates Pty LtdGRAHAM BROOKS AND ASSOCIATES PTY LTD 1 July 1996 Yes

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: 5051432

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