Burwood Post Office (former) | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Burwood Post Office (former)

Item details

Name of item: Burwood Post Office (former)
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Postal and Telecommunications
Category: Post Office
Location: Lat: -33.8777047375 Long: 151.1039399180
Primary address: 168A Burwood Road, Burwood, NSW 2134
Parish: Concord
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Burwood
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT337 DP752023
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
168A Burwood RoadBurwoodBurwoodConcordCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
 Private 

Statement of significance:

An excellent example of a suburban post office designed by the government architect W L Vernon in the Federation Anglo Dutch Revival style. The asymmetrical facade of well detailed brickwork has a massive arch at ground level and other openings with semi-circular arches, all characteristic of the style. The square campanile is a more ltalianate element, which enables the post office to be a focus of the townscape. (RNE)

Burwood Post Office is a landmark building which is clearly visible from many parts of the Municipality that has become an icon for the community which uses it as a logo on many documents and other places both now and in the past. It is arguably the most well known building in Burwood.

It is part of a significant and architecturally outstanding group of public buildings, particularly Post Offices, designed by the government architect of the day Walter Liberty Vernon and is a rare example of a secular building with a corner tower.

Burwood Post Office has always been close to and associated with Burwood Station which is identified in the State Heritage Inventory. For many years it was located in part of the station buildings and there still remains the last building used as a post office on the south side of the tracks to the west of Burwood Road.

It should also be considered as part of a group associated with communications including the Station and the structure earlier used as a post office.

It is considered to be of Regional and State significance because of its long association with the area, its association with an outstanding group of buildings by the Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon, particularly his Post Offices, the quality of its design and construction including its rare tower element which is a landmark in the region.

This statement applies to that part of the building designed by W.L. Vernon. Later additions to the building are of lesser or no signficance.
Date significance updated: 08 Mar 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Walter Liberty Vernon and George Oakeshott (assistant draughtsman)
Builder/Maker: New South Wales Works Branch
Physical description: A two storey polychrome brick building with four storey campanile in Italian Romanesque Revival style built in 1892 and designed by W L Vemon. The facade is of assymetrical design dominated by the tower. A massive arched opening leads to the posting boxes. Beautifully detailed brickwork and facade is embellished with sandstone royal insignia, various arched openings, string courses and a sandstone plinth, sixteen pane windows and a terracotta tiled roof.

To sum up some of the characteristics of Vernon's style, emphasis must be placed on the use of brick and stone dressing as building media, gables rather than parapets, irregular massing of volumetric shapes, restricted use of ornamentation in most buildings after the turn of the century, frequent use of the plain rounded arch and semicircular windows: all of these allied to a generally picturesque modest domestic air. Look at almost any of the Vernon suburban or New South Wales country post offices, police stations, court houses and (after 1904) schools, and some or all of these characteristics will be present.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The front faade is in good condition and intact except for the 1930 modification turning the large round headed ground floor window into an archway over terrazzo steps. The tower and the front main roof are intact. The roofs may need maintenance.
2-5/2007: Advised that the 1892 opening memorial plaque from outside the entry lobby has been removed/stolen.
Date condition updated:07 Feb 01
Modifications and dates: The main round headed window at the front was changed to an archway circa 1930 when terrazzo steps were added to provide a more direct access from the street.

Other internal alterations were probably carried out at that time and later post boxes were added. Two storey additions were added at the rear including a concrete staircase in 1958.

The typical internal counter details were removed possibly in the 1970s and recently the interiors have been cleared of all fittings.
Current use: Unused since 1996, shop
Former use: Aboriginal land, farm, Post Office

History

Historical notes: Burwood:
Burwood derived its name from a grant of 250 acres made by Governor Hunter on 3 August 1799 to Captain Thomas Rowley of the NSW Corps, who named the land Burwood Farm, after the land on which he had lived in his native Cornwall, England. Along with John Macarthur and Rev. Samuel Marsden, Rowley was one of the men who purchased merino sheep from the original flock brought to Australia by Captain Waterhouse in 1797. Although Rowley had another farm at Newtown where he lived, he would have pastured some of his sheep at Burwood. His name is remembered in Rowley Street. His tomb was originally laid at Kingston Farm, but has since been re-erected in Waverley Cemetery (Burwood City Council website, history).

In 1812 the land was bought by well-known Sydney businessman (and farmer), Alexander Riley, who built the district's first house, 'Burwood Villa' in 1814. This stood on a site c.400m west of the Coronation Club and a small granite obelisk was erected on the western side of Burwood Park to mark the position of the villa, when it was demolished in 1937 (ibid).

RIley cleared and cultivated 500 acres of this land and successfully introduced into the colony the orange, lemon, pomegranate, loquat, grape, peach, nectarine, apricot, apple, pear, cherry, plum, fig, chestnut, almond, medlar, quince, raspberry, strawberry and melon (ibid).

A stagecoach began running to Parramatta in 1814 and in the 1820s inns were built at staging posts where coaches changed horses at 10 kilometer intervals along Parramatta Road. This was the era when bushrangers were a scourge of Parramatta and Liverpool Roads, hiding out in undeveloped lands and making roads unsafe (ibid).

In about 1833 the owners of a number of grants commenced to subdivide and sell their lands and thus started the growth of the suburb of Burwood. The Municipality of Burwood was incorporated in 1874. The suburb at the time was a quiet little village with a mere 1200 people and only about 300 buildings. Its southern boundary was Liverpool Road, beyond which lay the even more sparsely settled village of Enfield. The railway from Sydney to Parramatta opened in 1855. There were four stations - Newtown, Ashfield, Burwood and Homebush. In 1874 Five Dock Station opened and in 1876 changed its name to Croydon. That same year Concord Station opened, renamed Redmyre in 1877 and again renamed to Strathfield in 1885 (ibid).

In 1860 the number of daily trains to and from Sydney was six each way. Two level crossings at Burwood Road were replaced by overhead bridges in 1892. The third bridge and set of railway lines were built in 1926. Opening the railway was a momentous event for Burwood as it made the suburb easily accessible to the city and brought a number of wealthy merchants and industrialists who built spacious country houses. The population rose from 7400 in 1900 to over 20000 by 1930. In 1912 steam trams were replaced by electric trams. The tram from Ashfield to Enfield was extended to Burwood and Mortlake in 1899 and Cabarita in 1907 (ibid).

Burwood Post Office:
In 1869 a post office was situated at the railway station. Postal services were previously conducted through general stores. In 1886, a new building was erected at the railway station and in 1892, the present day Post Office, designed by W.L. Vernon, was opened.

The construction of new post offices continued throughout the Depression years under the leadership of Walter Liberty Vernon who retained office from 1890 to 1911. Although a total of twenty-seven offices were erected berween 1892 and 1995, funds available to the new Government Architect's Branch were cut from 1893 to 1895, causing Vernon to postpone many important projects.

George Oakeshott was the assistant draughtsman in Vernon's Office and had responsibility for post office designs. He had arrived in NSW from England in 1891 when he joined the Colonial Architect's Branch and was promoted to chief draughtsman in 1897, a position which he held until his resignation in 1900. Reynolds (author) notes that he became the fist director of the NSW Works Branch of the Department of Home Affairs, later transferring to the Commonwealth. He attributes the stylistic changes in the design of post offices under Vernon in large part to Oakeshott.

This assertion is reinforced by the fact that the most distinguished English Domestic Revival post offices were erected in the Sydney metropolitan area at locations including Newtown (1893), Enmore (1895), Annandale (1895-96), Arncliffe (1897-98) and Summer Hill (1900). They include details and materials common to the Queen Anne style, attributed especially to Norman Shaw who had been practising successfully in England in this style for some decades. The incorporation of Dutch Renaissance motifs, notably gables with strapwork and volutes is also characteristic. This group of post offices reflects the architectural trends of its day, being in the vanguard of the movement away from neo-Classicism in 1893 and in the mainstream during the late 1890's.

The use of the prominent semi-circular arch or window opening also gained acceptance, during the first decade of Vemon'.s office. The earliest application no longer remaining in AP (Australia Post) ownership is at Burwood (1892-93) which has both American and English precedent but is most accurately described as being in the American Romanesque style. Following its introductory phase during the early 1890's, the round arch motif remained popular throughout the decades and was continued in use as late as 1910 at Lithgow.

It was during the early 1890's that prominent clock towers were last used, its demise no doubt arising directly from the economic malaise of the period. As a device for corner enrichment, however. a number of substitutes were developed under Vernon. At Glen Innes the corner porch is surmounted by a balcony with low pitched roof in the Arts and Crafts manner. A porch with balcony is a prominent corner element at Narrandera,whilst at Summer Hill a faceted projecting porch and surmounting balcony and roof substitute for one of Barnet's towers. Even at Newcastle (1902-03), conceived somewhat belatedly in the full-blown. Itallanam style, there is no tower, but rather domed corner pavilions.

The clock was added to the tower in 1901. The foundation stone was laid by Mrs. J.F. Hennessy, Mayoress in 1892.

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 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 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 Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant Places: How are significant places marked in the landscape of Parramatta by, or for, different groups?-Monuments and Sites
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 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. Adapted heritage building or structure-
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 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 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 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 Townships-
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 Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivision of rural 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 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 Cultural Social and religious life-
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 Impact of railways on suburban development-
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 suburban 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 Beautifying towns and villages-
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-
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-
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 Romanesque Revival-
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 in an exemplary architectural style-
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-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Oakeshott, assistant draftsman, Government Architect's Office-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
In 1892, the present day Post Office, designed by W.L. Vernon, was opened.

The construction of new post offices continued throughout the Depression years under the leadership of Walter Liberty Vernon who retained office from 1890 to 1911. Although a total of twenty-seven offices were erected berween 1892 and 1995

The most distinguished English Domestic Revival post offices were erected in the Sydney metropolitan area at locations including Newtown (1893), Enmore (1895), Annandale (1895-96), Arncliffe (1897-98) and Summer Hill (1900). They include details and materials common to the Queen Anne style, attributed especially to Norman Shaw who had been practising successfully in England in this style for some decades. The incorporation of Dutch Renaissance motifs, notably gables with strapwork and volutes is also characteristic. This group of post offices reflects the architectural trends of its day, being in the vanguard of the movement away from neo-Classicism in 1893 and in the mainstream during the late 1890's.

The use of the prominent semi-circular arch or window opening also gained acceptance, during the first decade of Vemon'.s office. The earliest application no longer remaining in AP (Australia Post) ownership is at Burwood (1892-93) which has both American and English precedent but is most accurately described as being in the American Romanesque style.

Following its introductory phase during the early 1890's, the round arch motif remained popular throughout the decades and was continued in use as late as 1910 at Lithgow.

It was during the early 1890's that prominent clock towers were last used, its demise no doubt arising directly from the economic malaise of the period.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The asymmetrical facade of well detailed brickwork has a massive arch at ground level and other openings with semi-circular arches, all characteristic of the style. The square campanile is a more ltalianate element, which enables the post office to be a focus of the townscape.'

A two storey polychrome brick building with four storey campanile in Italian Romanesque Revival style built in 1892 and designed by W L Vemon.

The facade is of assymetrical design dominated by the tower. A massive arched opening leads to the posting boxes. Beautifully detailed brickwork and facade is embellished with sandstone royal insignia, various arched openings, string courses and a sandstone plinth. Sixteen pane windows. Terracotta tiled roof.

To sum up some of the characteristics of Vernon's style, emphasis must be placed on the use of brick and stone dressing as building media, gables rather than parapets, irregular massing of volumetric shapes, restricted use of ornamentation in most buildings after the turn of the century, frequent use of the plain rounded arch and semicircular windows: all of these allied to a generally picturesque modest domestic air.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
In 1869 a post office was situated at the railway station. Postal services were previously conducted through general stores. In 1886, a new building was erected at the railway station and in 1892, the present day Post Office, designed by W.L. Vernon, was opened.

This post office as an essential service has been associated with the people of Burwood for more than 100 years and a post office of some sort has been located in the immediate vicinity since the inception of the Municipality.

The clock, added to the tower shortly after the Post Office was built, has played an important role in the lives of the community. Since the clock stopped working after Australia Post vacated the premises many people have contacted Council to ask that it be kept working and at the righ time.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The square campanile is a more ltalianate element, which enables the post office to be a focus of the townscape.' Burwood Post Office is a landmark building which is clearly visible from many parts of the Municipality that has become an icon for the community which uses it as a logo on many documents and other places both now and in the past. It is arguably the most well known building in Burwood.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
An excellent example of a suburban post office designed by the government architect W L Vernon in the Federation Anglo Dutch Revival style. The asymmetrical facade of well detailed brickwork has a massive arch at ground level and other openings with semi-circular arches, all characteristic of the style.
Integrity/Intactness: Apart from changing the front ground floor window to an archway the front elevation, tower and main roof remain in tact and a good example of Vernon’s work.
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:

Fix clocks in clock tower.

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce 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
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 0149018 May 01 862816
Local Environmental PlanBurwood Town Centre LEP 2010I1310 May 10   
Local Environmental PlanBurwood LEP 2012 Schedule 5 item    
National Trust of Australia register  9304   
Register of the National Estate 335621 Oct 86   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Burwood Heritage Study1989 Fox and Associates  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written9 Creative2016Statement of Heritage Impacts, 168A Burwood Road, Burwood
WrittenGarry Stanley and Architects Woods Bagot2002Conservation Management Plan: 168A Burwood Rd., Burwood - Post Office
WrittenHeritage 212016Statement of Heritage Impact - proposed development at 168A Burwood Road, Burwood - job no. 2652

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

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(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: 5051522
File number: EF14/4493; H00/540; S90/2958/1


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