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Wollongong East Post Office

Item details

Name of item: Wollongong East Post Office
Other name/s: Wollongong Post and Telegraph Office, Wollongong post office
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Postal and Telecommunications
Category: Post Office
Location: Lat: -34.4258867384 Long: 150.8980423400
Primary address: 91 Crown Street, Wollongong, NSW 2500
Local govt. area: Wollongong City
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Illawarra
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
VOL  FOL143
LOT2510DP759104
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
91 Crown StreetWollongongWollongong City  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Wollongong City CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

Wollongong East Post Office is significant at State level for its historical associations, aesthetic qualities and social meaning.

Linked with the postal service that has been operating in Wollongong since 1832, Wollongong East Post Office has been the centre of communications for the local community for over a century and reflects the needs of a growing population towards the end of the nineteenth century. The post office also provides an insight into the development of communication services in NSW.

One of the last post offices that would have been designed by the Colonial Architect’s Office in 1890 under James Barnet, it is a notable example of the Victorian Free Classical style and a prominent civic building in the Crown Street streetscape. Barnet was a key practitioner of the Victorian Free Classical style and was the designer of a large number of post offices across NSW between 1865 and 1890, a group which Wollongong East Post Office is part.

Wollongong East Post Office is also considered to be significant to the local community’s sense of place.
Date significance updated: 12 Oct 01
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: Colonial Architect's Office
Builder/Maker: Messrs Banks and Whitehouse
Construction years: 1890-1892
Physical description: Wollongong East Post Office is a landmark building within the Crown Street streetscape, close to the shopping mall. Completed in 1892, it is a two-storey, Victorian Free Classical building constructed in ashlar-rendered masonry with a smooth rendered base.

The first floor is surmounted by a hipped, tiled roof with a moulded parapet to the front elevation. The ground floor wings and extensions have been clad in gabled and skillion corrugated Colorbond sheets which, for the most part, are concealed behind rendered parapets. Four rendered and moulded chimneys punctuate the first floor roofline.

The facade is generally symmetrical about a central, recessed section of the building, which comprises the first floor balcony with a masonry balustrade, pillars and coat of arms at the centre, over the now enclosed front entry vestibule. A recent, unsympathetic steel and glass awning has been installed over the front entry.

The facade has simply moulded and fluted, square pilasters separating the ground and first floor, and triple, timber sash windows located either side of the central recessed section. The first floor pilasters have more elaborately moulded capitals. There are moulded string courses above the base, at first floor level and at the first floor balustrade level, with a bracketed, moulded cornice below the parapet. The parapet steps up to a decorative pediment feature, centred over the windows, one on either side of the building. The current colour scheme for the exterior of the building is an ochre base, beige body and taupe detailing.

The building has been substantially modified, particularly at ground floor level, since first constructed. The rear centre of the building, which was originally U-shaped and had a ground floor verandah servicing the western wing, has been enclosed to form the current mailroom. The eastern wing has been extended to the south for telephone exchange operations, the western masonry extension forming a new entry to the building and access to post boxes has been added, a weatherboard addition has been constructed on the western side and substantial interior fabric modifications have been undertaken. These include wall removal to both the ground and first floors and the installation of post boxes at the ground floor. (See the Modifications and Dates section of this form for further details and the historic plans attached.)

The main public entry is at the centre of the front facade, with another entry from within the western extension. The front steps to the entry are concrete and the floors to the extension have been clad in modern red clay tiles.

The interior of the ground floor of the Wollongong East Post Office comprises three main areas. These include the carpeted retail area and offices in the northern half of the building, the sheet-vinyl-floored mailroom, sorting room and post boxes areas at the centre rear and west side of the building, and staff facilities along the eastern side. There is modern tiling in the male and female bathrooms and cleaner's room.

The ceilings to the ground floor comprise smooth plaster with a deep, moulded cornice, with exposed beams between columns and masonry walls of the retail area and mailroom. There is a square set plaster ceiling to the postal manager's office, a lower plasterboard ceiling to the windowless room south of the office with a simple coved cornice, and asbestos-cement sheet to the kitchenette area and rear staff facilities with simple timber strip cornices.

Lighting throughout the ground floor is generally suspended fluorescent tubing from the modern Australia Post fitout. There is also a network of exposed air-conditioning ducting throughout the building, vents primarily inserted into ceilings and through fanlights. There are ceiling fans located in the retail area as well as the room behind the postal manager's office.

Architraves appear to be original and are generally intact excepting those to the three windows on the western side of the main entry doors, which have been damaged through later fitouts. There is modern trim to later openings. Some sections of original skirting have been retained, with the remainder replaced with wide timber board painted to match.

Windows to the retail area and some windows to the rear of the building appear original, timber sash windows. It appears that some of the glazing has been replaced. The front has a pair of timber French doors either side of a fixed centre door panel, the glazing has been painted over. They appear original to the 1918 enclosure of the front vestibule. Internal doors are generally later particularly to the staff facilities at the rear. There are fanlights above the postal manager's office door and above the door to the stairwell. Air-conditioning ducting has penetrated both fanlights.

Walls for the ground floor are generally rendered masonry, the mailroom walls have ashlar cut render to the majority of the surfaces and there is evidence of substantial patching indicating the enclosure of this area from a former exterior space. The later southern wall has been roughly rendered. Walls to the retail area are smooth rendered and there is evidence of previous patching. There are recent partition walls from fitouts in the retail area and between the retail and mailroom areas. These have been damaged through incomplete removal. In the space between the stairwell and the office there are two blind, shallow-arched recesses that have been obscured by a partition wall. The ground floor colour scheme includes cream- coloured walls with brown trim. Two chimneybreasts have been retained, one is intact with a marble surround and a cast iron grate, located in the postal manager's office, the other is in the retail area and is covered over.

The original stairwell is located on the western side of the building at the centre. The stair comprises stained and varnished, turned timber posts and balusters, with a shaped rail, simply carved end brackets and sheet vinyl treads with metal strip edging.

The original first floor residence of the Wollongong East Post Office comprises seven rooms off a central corridor, which runs east to west along the southern wall of the building. The northwestern corner room, centre room and southeastern corner room are carpeted. The remainder of this level is lined with linoleum sheet. The balcony floor is in good condition, lined with well sealed, lapped bituminous felt.

Ceilings to the first floor are predominantly plaster with an elaborately moulded cornice around the stairwell, along the corridor and in the centre room (the former drawing room). There are square set plaster ceilings that appear recently altered in the southwestern corner room, northwestern corner room, southeastern corner room and the northeastern corner room. Ceilings to the toilet and adjacent storeroom on the eastern side (former linen room and bathroom respectively) are painted mini-orb corrugated iron.

All lighting on the top floor is modern suspended fluorescent tubing in various forms with some attached pendent lights in the corridor and above the stairwell. There are no ceiling fans to the upper floor but there are air-conditioning vents installed into the ceilings of each room, excluding the southwestern corner room, the bathroom and storage room with the mini-orb ceiling.

Architraves on this level appear intact and original to windows and doors, with minor damage evident from electrical work. There are high, continuous picture rails in the northeastern corner room and the centre room, except where a partition wall has been installed within the large later opening made in the western wall of the centre room. There are no other picture rails to the first floor. Original, wide, moulded timber skirting is intact and original to this floor, excepting the plain, recent boarding painted to match the original in the northwestern corner room as for the ground floor.

Windows to the upper floor are original, squared timber sash, with single upper and lower panes. The timber and glass panelled French doors to the balcony also appear to be original. A former window or door to the balcony, in the northern wall of the centre room, has been substantially modified with the insertion of an intrusive air-conditioning unit. Internal doors have high, square fanlights above. With their fanlights, the internal doors are nearly the full height of the wall.

Walls of the first floor are generally painted, rendered masonry, painted in a cream and brown colour scheme. Original walls have been removed from the centre of the northwestern corner room and between it and the centre room. A recent, timber-laminate partition wall has been inserted between the centre and northwestern corner rooms. Four chimneybreasts have been retained on the first floor level. Two have been covered over, whereas the fireplaces remain relatively intact in the northeastern and southwestern corner rooms. There is a marble surround and cast-iron grate in the northeastern corner room and a timber surround in the southwestern corner room.

All signage referring to the former use as a post office has been removed, excepting the masonry coat of arms of the centre of the first floor balcony.

The surrounding streetscape comprises predominantly two to multi-storey retail and commercial buildings, primarily twentieth-century, but with some late nineteenth-century buildings. The Post Office is immediately adjacent to a two-storey Victorian commercial terrace building to the east, and the open courtyard of the three-storey Visitors Centre to the west, with a two-storey commercial building to the southwest.
The concrete rear yard of the post office currently serves as carparking, enclosed by a recent steel picket fence and double gate. There are some mature, deciduous street trees in front of the post office within the paved footpaths.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The building is generally in good condition, with the exception of peeling paint in the interior of both floors, rotting timbers in the rear weatherboard addition. Insufficient evidence to determined archaeological potential.
Date condition updated:12 Oct 01
Modifications and dates: Plans for the post office building were finalised in 1890 by the Colonial Architect’s Office under James Barnet. The two-storey building was completed on 28 October 1892, and comprised offices, telegraph office, public space, battery room, dining room, kitchen, scullery and larder for the residence on the ground floor. The first floor comprised the postmaster’s residence, with five bedrooms, drawing room, bathroom, linen room and balcony.

Excluding the original construction period of the building, there have been four main phases of alterations and additions to Wollongong East Post Office. They are outlined as follows:

? In 1914, plans indicate that the eastern wing of the building was extended with a hipped roof to the south to incorporate a new telephone exchange system, comprising an exchange room, attendants room, mechanics room and the relocated battery room. The front half of the ground floor was also reconfigured at this time.

? During 1918, more work was undertaken at the front of the building. Plans indicate that this included: the enclosure of the front vestibule; relocation of the mailroom to the western side of the building; relocation of the public space to the eastern side; front of the building; and construction of an awning to the front facade.

? In c1940s the rendered masonry annexe was constructed on the western side of the building to house new public telephones, later providing access to the post boxes located on this side. The construction of the southwestern corner skillion-roofed weatherboard addition (former verandah), the removal of part of the original western rear wing, enclosure of the U-shaped open rear of the building and the removal of the ground floor verandah probably occurred some time after.

? In 1988, Australia Post restored and refurbished the building by removing the 1918 awning and replacing it with a smaller, unsympathetic steel and glass canopy over the front entrance. 300 additional post boxes were installed at the post office during this time on the western side which were accessed via the c1940s western corridor addition.

The building was renamed Wollongong East Post Office in 1968, when the new building was constructed on another site.

The post office ceased operations in October 2000, when it was moved to the IBM Arcade, off the Mall. The building is currently vacant.
Current use: Vacant
Former use: Post Office, Residence, Telegraph Office and Telephone Exchange

History

Historical notes: Wollongong / the Illawarra:
Before European settlement in the Illawarra, the region was home to the local Wodi Wodi Aboriginal people of the Dharawal nation (NPWS, 2005). This Aboriginal community had a well-developed and complex society, and physical and cultural evidence of this remains today in the forms of burials, middens and other sites. The Aboriginal history has also been preserved through traditional knowledge and dreaming stories which have been passed down through the generations (WCC, c2012). Traditional stories tell of their arrival at the mouth of Lake Illawarra in canoes when the Ancestors were animals. They brought the Dharawal or Cabbage tree palm (Livistona australis) with them and are named for this sacred tree (NPWS, 2005).

Aboriginal communities first encountered Europeans in 1796.

Red cedar (Toona ciliata) timber-getters operated in Illawarra escarpment (rain)forests as the first 'settler' industry in the area from the 1810s.

Dr Charles Throsby used the coastal Illawarra grasslands as cattle fodder in 1815 opening the area to European settlement. He focussed his herd behind the fresh water lagoon then situated at the junction of the current day Harbour and Smith Streets where he built a stockman's hut and cattle yards (DeTom Design, 2011, 17-18) and this was a meeting point for the first Illawarra land grantees in 1816 (WCC, c.2012).

The first settlement in the area now known as Wollongong was by Charles Throsby Smith, nephew of Throsby. He was one of the first to receive a land grant in the district and in 1822 was the first to settle on his 300 acre parcel. Smith's barn, located near Wollongong harbour, became the first school house in 1826 and then church building in 1828.

A military presence was established in the area now known as Port Kembla in 1826. They were relocated to the area now known as Wollongong in 1830. They were replaced by a local magistrate in 1833. This activity was focussed around the harbour. In 1833 the area's first school was established (ibid, 2011, 17-18).

In 1834 land owner Charles Throsby Smith (nephew of Dr. Charles Throsby)'s land was nominated as the site for the township to be known as Wollongong (ibid, 2011, 17-18).

In 1834 Surveyor General Major Thomas Mitchell surveyed the town with the centrepiece of land devoted to the Church of England. As there was no crown land, Thosby-Smith sold his land to the Government and it was transferred to the church. The surveyed town was bounded by streets to be known as Harbour, Keira, Smith and Crown Streets (ibid, 2011, 18). The original township was bounded by Crown, Keira, Smith and Harbour Streets which remain major streets in Wollongong today (WCC, c2012).

The Illawarra District Council was formed in 1843. In 1859, two municipal councils were formed: Municipality of Wollongong which was proclaimed on 22 February, and Central Illawarra Municipality which was formed on 19 August 1859 (this took in the area from Unanderra to Macquarie Rivulet). North Illawarra Municipality was formed on 26 October 1868 and included the area from Fairy Creek to Bellambi. In 1947 The City of Greater Wollongong was formed by the amalgamation of the City of Wollongong, the Shires of Bulli and Central Illawarra and the Municipality of North Illawarra, under the Local Government Act, 1919 in the NSW Government Gazette 104 of 12 September 1947.

1880s expansion and the Illawarra Railway Line:
Wollongong expanded in the 1880s and the railway which finally linked the area to Sydney, encouraged movement away from Mitchell's plan. The relative isolation of the Illawarra ended in 1888 when the railway was finally introduced to link the area to Sydney. The town was transformed from a focus on the wharves to one on the railway and began to expand away from St.Michael's central position. The rail allowed the area to ship milk, coal and coke to Sydney city, expanding Wollongong city's potential enormously. By the turn of the century a smelting works and number of coke oven batteries were opened and the town's population rose from 1635 in 1881 to 3545 in 1901 (an average growth rate of 3.9%)(McDonald, 1989, in Davies, 2003, 14).

Postal Service - a history:
The first official postal service in Australia was established in April 1809, when the Sydney merchant Isaac Nichols was appointed as the first Postmaster in the colony of NSW. Prior to this, mail delivery was neither secure nor reliable as it was distributed directly by the captain of the ship on which the mail arrived. In 1825 the colonial administration was empowered to establish a Postmaster General's Department, which had previously been administered from Britain.
In 1828, the first post offices outside Sydney were established, which included offices in Bathurst, Campbelltown, Parramatta, Liverpool, Newcastle, Penrith and Windsor. By 1839, there were forty post offices in the colony; more post offices opened as settlement spread.

During the 1860s, the advance of postal services was further increased as the railway network was established throughout NSW. In 1863, the Postmaster General, WH Christie, noted that accommodation facilities for postmasters in some post offices were quite limited, and stated that it was a matter of importance that 'post masters should reside and sleep under the same roof as the office'.

Electric communication came to NSW in 1858 when the first telegraph lines were opened in Sydney; lines connecting the Sydney GPO to the South Head Signal Station and to Liverpool. Further development in NSW was slow compared to other states, with the Government actively concentrating on the development of country offices before suburban offices.
In 1862, James Barnet was appointed Acting Colonial Architect. His appointment coincided with a considerable increase in funding to public works programs, many of which included the construction of new post and telegraph offices. Indeed, between 1865 and 1890, the Colonial Architect's Office was responsible for the construction and maintenance of 169 post and telegraph offices throughout NSW.

In 1870 the postal and telegraph departments were amalgamated, after which time new post and telegraph offices were constructed to include both services.

The first significant telephone experiments in Australia were conducted in Sydney in January 1878, with three tests being carried out between La Perouse and Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald of 14 January 1878 wrote:
'Our readers are probably aware that a discovery has been made in the art of telegraphy which when fully developed may lead to an entirely new and simple system of communication.'

It wasn't until 1 November 1880, however, that what is claimed to be the first telephone service in NSW was established between the Exchange and the Government woolsheds at Darling Harbour.

On 11 October 1881, the first telephone exchange was opened in Sydney and, following the establishment of the switchboard, the Electric Telegraph Department took over the telephone system and relocated it to the GPO. From this point onwards, the growth of telephone lines expanded rapidly and, by March 1883, the exchange had become important enough to warrant a twenty-four hour service.

As with the telegraph, the telephone system soon began to extend into the country areas, with telephone exchanges appearing in NSW country towns from the late-1880s onwards. Again, the post office was responsible for the public telephone exchange, which further emphasised its place in the community as the provider of communications services.
The construction of new post offices continued throughout the Depression years of the late-nineteenth century under the leadership of Walter Liberty Vernon, who held office from 1890 to 1911. However, while twenty-seven post offices were built between 1892 and 1895, funding to the Government Architect's Office was cut from 1893 to 1895, which caused Vernon to postpone a number of projects.

Walter Liberty Vernon (1846-1914) was both architect and soldier. Born in England, he ran successful practices in Hastings and London and had estimable connections in artistic and architectural circles. In 1883 he had a recurrence of bronchitic asthma and was advised to leave the damp of England. He and his wife sailed to New South Wales. Before leaving, he gained a commission to build new premesis for Merrrs David Jones and Co., in Sydney's George Street. In 1890 he was appointed Government Architect - the first to hold that title - in the newly reorganised branch of the Public Works Department. He saw his role as building 'monuments to art'. His major buildings, such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales (1904-6) are large in scale, finely wrought in sandstone, and maintaining the classical tradition. Among others are the Mitchell Wing of the State Library, Fisher Library at the University of Sydney and Central Railway Station. He also added to a number of buildings designed by his predecessors, including Customs House, the GPO and Chief Secretary's Building - with changes which did not meet with the approval of his immediate precedessor, James Barnet who, nine years after his resignation, denounced Vernon's additions in an essay and documentation of his own works. In England, Vernon had delighted his clients with buildings in the fashionable Queen Anne style. In NSW, a number of British trained architects whow were proponents of hte Arts and Crafts style joined his office and under their influence, Vernon changed his approach to suburban projects. Buildings such as the Darlinghurst First Station (Federation Free style, 1910) took on the sacale and character of their surroundings. Under Vernon's leadership, an impressive array of buildings was produced which were distinguished by interesting brickwork and careful climatic considerations, by shady verandahs, sheltered courtyards and provision for cross-flow ventilation. Examples are courthouses in Parkes (1904), Wellington (1912) and Bourke, Lands Offices in Dubbo (1897) and Orange (1904) and the Post Office in Wellington (1904)(Le Sueur, 2016, 7).

Following Federation in 1901, the Commonwealth Government took over responsibility for post, telegraph and telephone offices. The Department of Home Affairs Works Division was made responsible for post office construction. In 1916, construction of post offices and telephone exchanges was transferred to the Department of Works and Railways, after which the Department of the Interior became responsible during World War II.

On 22 December 1975, the Postmaster General's Department was abolished and replaced by the Post and Telecommunications Department, resulting in the creation of Telecom Australia (later Telstra) and Australia Post.
In 1989, the Australian Postal Corporation Act established Australia Post as a self-funding entity, heralding a new direction in property management, including a move away from the larger more traditional buildings, towards smaller, shopfront-style post offices. With the advent of new digital technology requiring smaller spaces, Telstra (originally Telecom) is also taking a new direction in property management by withdrawing from larger telephone exchanges and former post offices, to smaller, more cost-efficient premises.

For much of its history, the post office has been responsible for a wide variety of community services including mail distribution, an agency for the Commonwealth Savings Bank, electoral enrolments, and the provision of telegraph and telephone services. The town post office has served as a focal point for the community, most often built in a prominent position in the centre of town, close to other public buildings, creating a nucleus of civic buildings and community pride. Over the last 150 years, telecommunications has played a central role in developing lines of communication within Australia, has been important in eliminating Australia's isolation from the rest of the world, and has therefore played a major role in the development of the local, regional and national economies.

Wollongong East Post Office
Wollongong's first Government post office was constructed in c1864 in Market Street, formalising the postal service that had been operating in Wollongong since 1832 when the first postmaster began working in the town. Early offices were commonly operated out of the business premises of the postmaster, the post being a part-time occupation for most early country postmasters. The building was an extension of the then telegraph office.

The telegraph had arrived in Wollongong in 1862 and an office had been built in Market Street on land purchased by the Government to accommodate the telegraph office. Following the amalgamation of the post and telegraph departments in 1870, it was decided to combine both facilities in the same building. So it was then, in the mid-1870s, that the telegraph building was extended to house the post office as well. In 1882 the Market Street office was effectively rebuilt, with the addition of a new faade and a second storey.

In December 1888, the local MP, the Hon. F Woodward, suggested to the Postmaster General the existing building be sold and a new office built in a more central position. The Postal Inspector agreed to the proposal valuing the current building at (Pounds)2,000 and estimated a cost of (Pounds)3,300 for the purchase of a suitable site and the erection of a new office in Wollongong. The site chosen was adjacent to the Town Hall in Crown Street, which was purchased for (Pounds)900 in October 1889 after protracted negotiation with a reluctant Public Instruction Department as the vendor.

Tenders for the construction of the new office were called; the lowest, from Messrs Banks and Whitehouse, for (Pounds)2,953, was accepted. The Colonial Architect James Barnet finalised plans in 1890 and work on the construction began soon after. The two-storey office building was completed on 28 October 1892 under the reign of Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon. The ground floor area included a covered entrance vestibule leading to the postal office, money order office and telegraph office. Behind the main office area was the battery room. A dining room, kitchen, scullery and laundry occupied the right wing of the building. On the first floor was the main living area for the postmaster, with five bedrooms, a drawing room and bathroom.

One of the functions of the post office was timekeeping. Each day, a telegraph signal was sent from Sydney to the post office and a metal disc located on the roof over the centre of the front facade was lowered in response. The lowering of the disc was observed from Flagstaff Hill and the one o'clock cannon would be fired. The disc mechanism has since been removed and there is a flagstaff in its place.

In 1914, the left wing of the building was extended to make way for the inclusion of a new telephone exchange, which involved the relocation of the battery room. In the front of the building, the rooms were reconfigured with a new public area in the former money order office, and a mailroom replaced the telegraph office on the eastern side. In 1918, more work was done on the front portion of the office. The public entrance was moved forward eliminating the vestibule area. Inside, the general office space was rearranged to accommodate a longer counter parallel to the front of the office. One internal wall was removed to create a large general office area and public space. The mailroom was moved to the public area from the 1914 design. An awning was installed at the front of the building at the same time.

In c1940, an annexe was built adjoining the post office to house new public telephones.

In 1968, a new building was erected in Upper Crown Street to serve as Wollongong's main post office; the study site was re-classified as Wollongong East Post Office.

In 1988, Australia Post spent $250,000 restoring the Wollongong East Post Office. The project included the removal of the 1918 awning, which was replaced by a smaller canopy over the front entrance. Internally, the counter was moved back to allow for more public space, while an extra 300 private mail boxes brought the total to 800 for the office. The Post Office continued to operate until October 2000, when it was closed as an office, and was replaced by a shopfront office within the IBM Arcade off the Mall.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural - Coasts and coastal features supporting human activities-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
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 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 Landscapes of institutions - productive and ornamental-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Events-Activities and processes that mark the consequences of natural and cultural occurences Developing local landmarks-
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. Federation era office building-
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. Victorian era offices-
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 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 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 Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Administering and alienating Crown lands-
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 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 suburban to urban-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in offices-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working in the public service-
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. Colonial government-
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. State government-
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. Federal Government-
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 - administration of land-
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. Public works-
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-
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. Providing public offices and buildings-
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 - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
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 - public land administration-
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. Monuments-
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 making and using coats of arms and heraldry-
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-
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 - Victorian period-
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. Interior design styles and periods - Victorian-
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 - Victorian 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. Interior design styles and periods - Edwardian-
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 - Victorian (mid)-
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. work of stonemasons-
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. Applying architectural design to utlilitarian structures-
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 1890-1911, 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 James Barnet, Colonial (Government) Architect 1862-90-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with the NSW Government Architect's Office-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Mr Banks and Mr. Whitehorse, Illawarra builders-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Wollongong East Post Office has historical significance for its role in the provision and development of postal, telegraph and telephone services throughout the State.

Wollongong East Post Office is associated with the early development of Wollongong as it is linked with the postal service that has been operating in Wollongong since 1832.

Wollongong East Post Office reflects the population growth of the area towards the end of the nineteenth century, which resulted in the need for an improved level of services to the local residents and the construction of the new building in Crown Street to replace the c1876 Market Street property. It has been the centre of communications for the local community for over a century.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The building appears to have been one of the last post offices designed by the Colonial Architect’s Office in 1890 under James Barnet, and completed under the reign of Government Architect Walter Liberty Vernon.

Wollongong East Post Office was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet, a key practitioner of the Victorian Free Classical style of architecture. The Colonial Architect’s Office under Barnet designed and maintained a large number of post offices across NSW between 1865 and 1890.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Wollongong East Post Office is aesthetically significant because it is a notable example of the Victorian Free Classical style, and makes an important aesthetic contribution to central Wollongong East as a dominant nineteenth century public building.

It compares in style and form with Orange (1879) and Paddington (1885) post offices, although Wollongong East Post Office is smaller in scale.

The scale, architectural style and location of the building make it a focal point within the Crown Street streetscape, endowing it with landmark qualities. The adjacent Victorian commercial terrace is architecturally sympathetic to the post office, and together, add substantially to the character of streetscape.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Wollongong East Post Office is a prominent civic building and a local landmark, and has been the centre of communications for the area for over a century. As such, it is considered to be important to the Wollongong community’s sense of place.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site may have some potential to contain archaeological information relating to the previous use of the site and the evolution of the building. However, there was insufficient evidence available to establish the degree of archaeological potential for the site.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Although not particularly rare in itself, Wollongong East Post Office is one of a small group of Victorian Free Classical style Post Offices.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Wollongong East Post Office is part of the group of purpose-designed, nineteenth-century post offices in NSW, designed by the Colonial Architect’s Office under James Barnet and although small in scale to comparable post offices, is a fine example of its type.
Integrity/Intactness: The exterior form of the Wollongong East Post Office is largely intact, with modifications to the rear and western side. The interior has undergone extensive change, which has been concentrated largely on the ground floor with the introduction of larger public areas, mailroom and post box facilities and the enclosure of the front vestibule.

The first floor level has also undergone some changes, but a greater extent of original fabric and layout remain. Wollongong East Post Office retains the features which make it culturally significant, which includes the overall fabric, style, form and scale of the building.

The building is overall in fair to good condition, with some ceiling and wall cracking evident on the ground floor and first floor levels, some minor water damage and paint peeling. There is some evidence of previous patching.
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 and a curtilage assessment prior to any development proposals for the site. Policy and recommendations should include consideration of the conservation and future use of the post office. The unsympathetic 1980s awning should be removed where possible in any future works.

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 0161624 Jan 03 25533

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenLe Sueur, Angela2016Government Architects - part 2
WrittenNational Parks and Wildlife Service2005Aboriginal Illawarra
WrittenPaul Davies P/L2003Conservation Management Plan, St Michael's Cathedral Wollongong
WrittenWollongong City Council, in association with Wollongong Heritage Committee2012Wollongong City Centre Heritage Trail (brochure)

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: 5051724
File number: H00/00648


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