Sewer Vent (Ben Buckler) | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Sewer Vent (Ben Buckler)

Item details

Name of item: Sewer Vent (Ben Buckler)
Other name/s: Ben Buckler, Earlier brick vent
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Sewerage
Category: Other - Utilities - Sewerage
Location: Lat: -33.8859364587 Long: 151.2844640640
Primary address: Military Road, Bondi, NSW 2026
Local govt. area: Waverley
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse


Within sewerage easement, Bondi Golf Club. Boundary and physical curtilage includes all original fabric to the extent of the existing chain wire fence but including concrete access hatches, vents and original infrastructure below ground which may be outside the fence line.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Military RoadBondiWaverley  Primary Address
Blair Street (opposite)BondiWaverley  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney WaterState Government 

Statement of significance:

This classically designed vent shaft, albeit not the first on the site, is aesthetically the most significant reinforced concrete structure of its type in the Sydney Water system. It is an important landmark for a great distance and likely to be held in high regard by the community. It is likely to be unique in NSW for its use, design and construction.
Date significance updated: 04 Feb 02
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: M.B.W.S. & S.
Physical description: The vent shaft is presently sited as a prominent element surrounded by open landscape adjacent the escarpment and as part of what is now Bondi Golf Course.

It is prominent as a vista along New South Head Road at the corner of Penkevil Street.

It is the dominant element at the end of the Vista from Curlewis Street and Old South Head Road.

The shaft comprises a classically designed pedestal, base, shaft and part capital of reinforced concrete. The pedestal is rusticated and splayed up to a base which is part fluted where it meets the shaft and smooth rendered up to the remaining section of capital.

Numerous repair works including substantial steel bands have been fitted to all parts of the shaft and in more recent times decorative lights, lightning conductors and numerous appendages have been fitted. Immediately to the south of the base is a series of concrete access lids to the chamber below with three steel vents and cowls probably dating from the mid to late 20th century. A painted brick access structure is located to the south east of the shaft, which has a flat concrete lid and would date from the mid to late 20th century. A chain wire mesh fence surrounds the base of the vent shaft which dates from the late 20th century.

The inscription on the southern face of the pedestal reads "Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage erected 1910".

In terms of integrity the vent shaft and pedestal would be reasonably intact although it has a number of later appendages and missing its original capital. Internally the shaft has been religned and repaired more than once due to spalling of concrete and corrosion of reinforcement bars. It appears the capital has been rendered smooth.

Immediate physical curtilage would be around the base in the area of the existing fence extending to include the concrete access hatches, vents and access bulk head, but acknowledging the vents and bulk head are not in themselves significant. The visual curtilage extends from the western topographical ridge top to the ocean on the north and south of the vent shaft.
Date condition updated:03 Dec 01
Modifications and dates: 1938, 1948, 1956, 1963, 1977, 2001.
Current use: Sewer Vent
Former use: Sewer Vent


Historical notes: Consistent with the then MBWS&S aim to provide ventilation to the sewers to prevent the air inside from becoming "dense", a brick ventilation shaft was constructed at Bondi (Ben Buckler) in 1888 over the outfall sewer. The dimensions of that vent shaft were 12 feet by 5 feet and 55 feet 6 inches in height. Similar brick shafts were also built at Bellevue Hill (1889) 90 feet in height and York Street, Glebe (1895), 92 feet in height. The first brick vent shaft soon developed a series of cracks and flaws.

In response to the deterioration of the brick shaft, the Engineer-in-Chief, John Smail submitted to the Board a design for a new Ventilation Shaft and outlet. Tenders were called for the contract, (Contract No. 894) with an estimated cost of 2,000 pounds ($4,000). As the lowest tender received was 17% above the budgeted estimate, the then Board accepted his recommendation for the shaft to be erected by selected day labour under the supervision of Board's staff.

In 1910, the brick shaft was demolished and replaced with the reinforced concrete vent shaft that is still present today. This reinforced concrete shaft was described as being:

"built of ferro concrete and the top is 100ft. above the ground. Its maximum internal diameter is 12ft. and minimum internal diameter at the top, 7ft. 2in. The shaft extends on a 23ft. Pedestal standing 20ft. high. The thickness of the concrete where the shaft springs from the pedestal is 16 1/2 in., and at the top it is 7in. thick. The reinforcement is of plain round steel vertical bars varying diameter from 3/4 in. diameter to 5/16, there being 46 bars in the circle and hooped with 5/16 in. round bars, spaced 6in. and 9in. apart. Ths shaft is surmounted by a cast iron cap."
(MBWS&S Official Handbook, 1913).

The Ben Buckler Vent Stack has a long history of maintenance works due to the corrosion of the reinforced concrete from hydrogen sulphide (H2S) gas and cracking and spalling concrete. This includes:

- 1938 Removal of reinforced concrete and reinforcement on the inside of the shaft to a depth of 3.5 inches due to corrosion from H2S gas attack and its replacement with clinker bricks.

- 1948 Works to repair the deterioration of brick joints by H2S gas with an experimental patch of joints repaired with ordinary mortar and painted with 6 coats of silicate of soda.

- 1956 Repointing of affected areas up to a height of 10 feet.

- 1963-65 Addition of steel reinforcing bands around the outside of the stack and repointing of the brick joints in the shaft with cement mortar.

- 1977-78 Replacement/repair of the external steel work including lightning protection, ladders and steel bands. Repair of cracks and the addition of new lining. These repairs were expected to maintain the Vent Stack for about another ten years.

- 2000-2001 Patch repairs to the external surface to make good spalled and drummy areas. Repair of cracks and the application of a crack accommodating elastomeric protective coating. Installation of new steel compression bands to provide stability against vertical cracks.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Health-Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
It is one of the few major visible parts of the 19th century engineering work, the BOOS, being the first major sewerage system in Sydney.

It is the first Vent Stack constructed in reinforced concrete by the then Metropolitan Board of Water Supply & Sewerage.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Vent Stack is a prominent landmark feature of the coastline near Bondi. Its placement in an open setting is important to the maintenance of these landmark qualities.
The architectural design reflects the quality and taste of the day with an understanding of classical proportions and principles.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Vent Stack is also likely to have social significance in its landmark qualities to the local community, and for the function it serves.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The vent stack demonstrates the early advances in the use of reinforced concrete, particularly in regard to sewer and structural engineering.
SHR Criteria f)
The shaft is unique in Sydney Water's system and likely NSW.
SHR Criteria g)
The ventilation function is now common place and representative of sewage systems.
Integrity/Intactness: Reasonably intact.
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:

Manage the place and its significant components in accordance with the Heritage Council State Owned Heritage Asset Management Guidelines and the Minimum Standards of Maintenance and Repair in the NSW Heritage Regulations. Manage significant site elements in accordance with a Conservation Management Plan (CMP). If no CMP exists, consult with Asset Management Commercial Services with respect to commissioning a CMP. When commissioning a CMP, do so in accordance with the Model Brief for CMPs available on ConnectNet. Seek endorsement of the CMP from the Heritage Council of NSW. Works undertaken in accordance with a Heritage Council-endorsed CMP do not require further approval under the NSW Heritage Act. Involve heritage professionals as required under the terms of the CMP, or as otherwise determined necessary. Review CMP every 5 years or in a major change of circumstances, whichever is sooner. Review of a CMP should only be undertaken following consultation with Asset Management Commercial Services . When commissioning a CMP review, do so in accordance with the Model Brief for CMPs available on ConnectNet. Where no CMP is in place, or where works are outside the scope of the existing CMP, assess heritage impacts of proposed works in accordance with Sydney Water Environment Impact Assessment guidelines (e.g. undertake a Heritage Assessment and/or Statement of Heritage Impact as required, obtain Heritage Council approval as required). Consult with the Heritage Manager, Environment and Innovation, when major works are planned which affect items of State heritage significance. Undertake archival and photographic recording before major changes, in accordance with Heritage Council guidelines. Lodge copies of the archival record with the Sydney Water Archives and the NSW Heritage Office. Where the item is listed in a Local Environmental Plan Schedule of Heritage items, determine if works are exempt from approval under the LEP provisions. Where works are not exempt, obtain necessary approvals from the local council, in accordance with SWC EIA Guidelines.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0163715 Nov 02 2209709
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Alexandra Canal Conservation Management Plan2004 NSW Department of Commenrce, Heritage Design Services  Yes

References, internet links & images


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5053876

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