Tenements, pair three-storey brick | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Tenements, pair three-storey brick

Item details

Name of item: Tenements, pair three-storey brick
Other name/s: Longs Lane Terraces/Precinct ( Long's )
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Residential buildings (private)
Category: Terrace
Location: Lat: -33.860682 Long: 151.206622
Primary address: 140-142 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, NSW 2000
Parish: St Philip
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT21 DP1169394
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
140-142 Cumberland StreetThe RocksSydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney Harbour Foreshore AuthorityState Government 

Statement of significance:

This pair of tenements and site are of State heritage significance for their historical and scientific cultural values. The site and building are also of State heritage significance for their contribution to The Rocks area which is of State Heritage significance in its own right.

The Longs Lane precinct is primarily significant as a unique ensemble of nineteenth century residential buildings, laneways and rear yards in The Rocks, and because it includes the terrace, 103-111 Gloucester Street, which is a very rare extant example in Sydney of an early Victorian Greek Revival style terrace of houses created as total composition.

Longs Lane precinct is also significant because : It is indicative of the nineteenth and early-twentieth century residential character of The Rocks, retaining strong associational and geographic links with community services such as shops, and churches. It retains rare examples of early-nineteenth century public laneways in their original scale and orientation. It is a unique ensemble in The Rocks of tenanted residential buildings of varying nineteenth and early twentieth century architectural periods including the Early Victorian, Victorian, and Edwardian. It possesses a unique archaeological potential as a discrete cluster of buildings, laneways, and rear yards of various buildings, relatively undisturbed since 1915, dating from the earliest period of occupation in Sydney.

Numbers 117-119 Gloucester and 140-142 Cumberland Streets are rare examples of the early-twentieth century government built worker's housing project initiated by the Housing Board Act of 1912. Numbers 140-142 are the remaining pair of a larger contemporary group, now demolished, that fronted Cumberland , Little Essex and Gloucester Streets.

Longs Lane is a rare extant public right of way known to have existed from the first decade of the nineteenth century. Carahers Lane is a rare documented site where the existence of slum housing from the-mid to late-nineteenth century can be shown to be associated with the remaining physical fabric, and historical documentation about the landlords/owners.

140-142 Cumberland Street is of historical, aesthetic, and scientific significance to the people of New South Wales for its contribution to the Longs Lane precinct which is significant in demonstrating the evolution of The Rocks in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and which remains a rare townscape complete with laneways and rear yards intact.

Of aesthetic significance as an example of the public housing tenements constructed by the Housing Board between 1912 and 1924, the building is a valuable example of the Australian Federation architectural style as it was applied to a new building type in the early 20th century. 140-142 Cumberland Street is one of two surviving segments of a much larger housing development which is significantly associated with the Housing Board, the first government agency established solely for the provision of housing. Together with the small number of other Housing Board buildings in The Rocks (including 46-56 Gloucester Street and 117 Gloucester Street), 140-142 Cumberland Street represents the changing role of government in the provision of welfare services to the populace from the turn of the 20th century.
Date significance updated: 11 Mar 09
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Designer/Maker: W.H. Foggitt,
Builder/Maker: NSW Government- Housing Board
Construction years: 1914-1914
Physical description: 140-142 Cumberland Street is a part of the 'Long's Lane Precinct'. Long's Lane is a cluster of nineteenth and early-twentieth houses, rear yards, and laneways between Gloucester and Cumberland Streets, the Rocks. These buildings are part of the same development as 117-117A Gloucester Street, relating to the NSW Government Housing Board redevelopment of the block bounded by Little Essex (now demolished), Cumberland and Gloucester Streets.
Style: Edwardian; Storeys: 2
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Any further ground disturbance on this site should be closely monitored by an archaeologist and in conjunction with a formal research design and knowledge of the results and research design of the 1994 Cumberland/ Gloucester Street excavation.
Date condition updated:21 Nov 02
Modifications and dates: 1992-97: Conservation and restoration of the Long's Lane precinct.
Current use: Vacant
Former use: Dwellings (Workman's Dwellings)


Historical notes: Early plans and images, such as Watling’s (attrib.) c.1800 painting Sydney - Capital New South Wales and Meehan’s 1807 Plan of Sydney Town show that present-day Cumberland Street between Essex and Argyle Streets was closely settled along a defined building alignment. These dwellings are likely to have been flimsy timber houses, built by the occupants (convicts and free settlers). The earliest reference to Long’s Lane is made in Meehan’s 1807 map, where the present day lines of Cumberland and Gloucester Streets are shown to have been formed with an interconnection along the alignment of Long’s Lane. Development within the precinct occurred predominantly in the 1880s and in the first decades of the 20th century.

This property includes part of allotment 18 of section 74, along with 113-115 Gloucester Street, which was formally granted to William Long in 1839, legitimising his claim to ownership of the property. Previous to this, Long had assumed de-facto ownership of the western section of allotment 18, fronting Cumberland St, upon the passing of Mary, his wife of two years, in 1829. Mary had owned the property since the death of her former husband, Richard Walker in 1825.

A former convict, Long arrived in Sydney aboard the Baring in 1815, but by 1829 was a successful wine and spirits merchant as well as being licensee of pubs in Miller’s Point and Lower George Street. In June 1830, Long advised the Colonial Secretary of his plans for the land adjacent Long’s Lane: 'On this allotment I intend to have erected within six months from the present date (most of the foundations being now laid)'ten handsome cottages the value of which when complete have seen estimates of £3000'. In the rate assessment book of 1845, this row is described as a group of eight brick single-storey tenements with shingle roofs, containing two rooms each.

By 1845, a two-storey, three room building with a shingled roof had been erected upon the site at the corner of Long’s Lane and Cumberland Street, possibly on the site of two of Long’s 1830 tenements. The building was variously described as a house, a shop, or a pub, having either seven or eight rooms. The pub was known as the Erin-go-Bragh (‘Ireland for Ever’) from 1871, with a name change to the Emerald between 1879 and 1882. Until 1853 the landlord for the property was James Wright, the trustee for Long’s daughter Isabella. Wright was the proprietor of the Australian Brewery at the corner of Bathurst and George Streets, Sydney. In 1853 Long’s daughter Isabella married James Martin, who subsequently became the registered owner of the property. Martin later served as Chief Justice of the N.S.W. Supreme Court, and is the person after whom Martin Place is named.

By 1882 the rate assessment books indicate that the pub had grown to contain between ten and fourteen rooms. A map dated to 1887 confirms that the building had undergone further alterations earlier in the previous decade. An extension to the pub was built at 142 Cumberland Street at this time, and mainly used as hairdresser’s shop.

Following an outbreak of the plague in Sydney and The Rocks the NSW government, under The Rocks Resumption Act (1901), resumed the area, which was barricaded to prevent further spread of infection. Some buildings were demolished, and from 1912 the NSW Housing Board began to construct housing in the vacant blocks of land in The Rocks. The Housing Board, founded under the Housing Act 1912, was the first such agency in the state devoted to the construction of public housing. The Board acquired land upon which buildings were constructed to be leased to ‘persons qualified under the Act’ for business or residential purposes. The Housing Board examined public housing initiatives in the UK and Europe, and incorporated those ideas in constructing tenement dwellings in The Rocks.

By 1907 the shop at 142 Cumberland Street and the adjoining building at No. 140 had been demolished. It appears that there was little development on the site over the next five years, but by 1912 the Board had moved to build worker’s dwellings in Gloucester, Cumberland and Essex streets. In addition to housing, the Board also sought to ensure a mix of housing, corner shops, pubs and the like in the area. From 1912, the Housing Board built some 30 units in one development along Gloucester, Cumberland and Little Essex streets. In addition to housing, the Board also sought to ensure a mix of housing, corner shops, pubs and the like in the area. The new terraces, including 140-142 Cumberland Street, were built by J.H. Thompson of Bondi to the design of Board architect W. Foggitt. Among the first tenants of the new development at was Mrs Annie Johnson, who operated a ‘residential’ [boarding house] at No. 142 between1916 and 1931. Richard Boucher similarly ran a ‘residential’ at No. 140, from 1925 to 1930. Of this large Housing Board development, only the northern units remain: the building at 117 Gloucester Street, and the subject building at 140-142 Cumberland Street.

The buildings demonstrate the typical Housing Board plan form, providing outdoor spaces in balconies and rear yards. Parts of the Gloucester / Essex / Cumberland Streets Housing Board development were demolished in the 1920s to make way for the approaches to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The remainder of the development was demolished with the construction of the Cahill Expressway in the 1950s to make way for the new freeway.

140-142 Cumberland Street continued to be tenanted through the 1970s. The last house was vacated in the 1980s when the house was boarded up. Subsequently, squatters occupied the building. Many fixtures were stolen or demolished during this period, perhaps as a result of boom in house renovations elsewhere in the inner city.

Between 1994 and 1995, an extensive programme of conservation works was carried out on the building. The work comprised stabilisation, restoration of the front façade and roofs, cutting in damp proof courses, and construction of new floors. Joinery, plastering, and other surface finishes were reconstructed on the basis of surviving original fabric. The building is now operated as bed & breakfast accommodation.

The Sydney Cove Authority also carried out conservation works to the buildings and rear yards in the remainder of the Long’s Lane Precinct, including 113-117 Gloucester Street. This work was awarded the 1998 Lloyd Rees Award for Outstanding Urban Design.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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. Accommodating workers in workers' housing-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
140-142 Cumberland Street is historically significant as a key component in demonstrating the evolution of the Long’s Lane precinct, which is a unique ensemble in The Rocks of 19th and early 20th century residential buildings, laneways, and rear yards.

140-142 Cumberland Street is of historical significance in its own right as one of two surviving fragments remaining from a large public housing scheme fronting Gloucester, Cumberland, and Little Essex Streets. (The second fragment is at 117 Gloucester Street.) The scheme was carried out by the NSW Housing Board, the first agency in NSW to be established solely for the purpose of building and managing public housing. The Housing Board’s work in The Rocks reflects the increasing role played by government in the welfare of citizens in the early 20th century.

The history of 140-142 Cumberland Street’s decline into dereliction, and the occupation of the building by squatters prior to the conservation works of the early 1990s reflect the changing social context of The Rocks over the course of the 20th century. The decision of the State government to restore the building demonstrates the prevailing political will and public funding dedicated to the conservation of heritage in the post-Green Bans period in The Rocks.

140-142 Cumberland Street meets this criterion on a State level.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
140-142 Cumberland Street is significant as one of a small number of buildings constructed under the Housing Act of 1912 by the NSW Housing Board, the first agency to be established in NSW to deal directly with the provision of public housing.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
140-142 Cumberland Street is of aesthetic significance in showing the Edwardian /Australian Federation architectural style as it was applied to a new building type in the early 20th century. While drawing on public housing models from Europe and the UK, the design of the building emphasises its Australian location in the provision of balconies and and the use of Australian motifs such as the waratah incorporated into the plaster vents. The aesthetic value of the building has been revealed and can now be better understood through reconstruction and conservation.

140-142 Cumberland Street makes a substantial contribution to the aesthetic significance of the Long’s Lane Precinct as an ensemble of 19th and early 20th century buildings, associated laneways, and rear yards.
140-142 Cumberland Street meets this criterion on a State level.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
As part of The Rocks area, 140-142 Cumberland Street is likely to be held in some esteem by the individuals and groups who are interested in Sydney’s history and heritage.

140-142 Cumberland Street meets this criterion on a local level.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Long's Lane Precinct is of prime archaeological significance with its continued European occupation from at least the first quarter of the nineteenth century in a relatively undisturbed state. The Long's Lane Precinct is of educational value to specialists and the general public with its ensemble of nineteenth buildings, laneways and rear yards, and its significance is enhanced by the tangible relationship of the buildings and laneways to the documentary and oral historical information.

140-142 Cumberland Street is a valuable example of the prevailing architectural style as it was applied to a new building type in the first decades of the 20th century, and has the potential to contribute substantially to the understanding of the evolution of housing, in particular public housing constructed by government agencies, in NSW.

The archaeological resource at 140-142 Cumberland Street is of potential research significance complementing the findings of previous archaeological investigations of adjacent sites in order to form a valuable resource for understanding early life in The Rocks area, and in particular the Long’s Lane precinct. 140-142 Cumberland Street is of some technical significance as an example of ‘academic’ conservation work in which reconstructed fabric was strictly based on extant material and constructed in a traditional manner.

140-142 Cumberland Street meets this criterion on a State level.
SHR Criteria f)
140-142 Cumberland Street is one remnant of a much larger development which was demolished in the mid-20th century. Together with 46-56 and 117 Gloucester Street, the building forms a very small group of buildings constructed for public housing by the NSW Housing Board.

The Long’s Lane Precinct is of significance as an ensemble of 19th and early 20th century buildings, associated laneways, and rear yards which is rare (probably unique) in the Sydney region and NSW.

140-142 Cumberland Street meets this criterion on a local level. The Long’s Lane precinct
meets this criterion on a State level.
SHR Criteria g)
140-142 Cumberland Street is a good representative example of early 20th century tenement housing within the context of the Long’s Lane precinct, itself a significant area in demonstrating the 19th century townscape of The Rocks, complete with intact rear yards and laneways.

140-142 Cumberland Street meets this criterion on a local level. The Long’s Lane precinct meets this criterion on a State level.
Integrity/Intactness: Possible archeological resource
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:

Buildings: All the extant buildings in the precinct should be retained and conserved. In general this conservation should be guided by the cultural significance of the individual item of the physical fabric. Ideally, this would be a reinstatement of missing fabric with a reconstruction to the earliest known form. Laneways and Rear Yards: The general form of the rear yards should be reconstructed to the period of the houses to which they belong. The fabric of Caraher's and Long's Lanes should be retained and conserved. The pavement and other missing fabric should be reconstructed where known. Gas lighting at the junctions of Long's Lane and Gloucester Street, Long's Lane and Cumberland Street, and probably Long's Lane and Caraher's Lane should be reconstructed. Archaeology: Any intervention of either the physical fabric of the buildings or subsurface of the site should be undertaken in consultation with an historical archaeologist. Such intervention may require archaeological investigation and recording. Interpretation: The differential historical development and use of Gloucester Street (extant mid and late-nineteenth century buildings) and Cumberland Street (extant late-nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings) should be interpreted by means of discrete information signs. (Clive Lucas Stapleton 1991: 103-104)

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
21(1)(b)Conservation Plan submitted for endorsementHeritage Council Endorsement for CMP - 140-142 Cumberland Street, The Rocks Apr 11 2016

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0159910 May 02 852865

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
SCA Register 1979-19981998B014Sydney Cove Authority (SCA)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Bed and Breakfast Sydney Harbour View detail
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners P/L Architects1991'Long's Lane Precinct, Conservation Analysis and Interim Conservation Guidelines'
WrittenClive Lucas, Stapleton & Partners Pty Ltd2007Conservation Management Plan 140-142 Cumberland Street, The Rocks
WrittenSCRA1984Building Data Sheet, CU/07

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: 5053216

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