Sewer Vent | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Sewer Vent

Item details

Name of item: Sewer Vent
Other name/s: North Sydney Sewer Vent, Alfred St Sewer Vent
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Sewerage
Category: Other - Utilities - Sewerage
Location: Lat: -33.8298649634 Long: 151.2129900580
Primary address: Falcon Street, North Sydney, NSW 2060
Local govt. area: North Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan


The operational curtilage of this item will be all the original fabric within the property boundaries of the land (owned by SWC) upon which the sewer vent is located.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Falcon StreetNorth SydneyNorth Sydney  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney WaterState Government 

Statement of significance:

The North Sydney Sewer Vent is an excellent representative example of the tall brick sewer ventilation shafts which were constructed around the turn of the century to facilitate the efficient functioning of the major outfall sewers. Its functional design is embellished by a successful application of architectural motifs, such as line and texture which lend the structure an element of formalism and classical detail including entasis. In addition, it displays high quality workmanship in the brickwork.

By virtue of its scale and form, it has landmark value within the Cremorne/ Crows Nest area and acts as a navigational beacon for motorists using the Bradfield Highway. It has the potential to invoke a sense of the past as its style and design contrast dramatically with the modern styles of architecture endemic to the North Sydney streetscape. It is currently serves the NSOOS in the manner in which it was originally designed.
Date significance updated: 30 Nov 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.


Designer/Maker: Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage
Builder/Maker: Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage
Physical description: A brick ventilation stack built 30 metres high, and a diameter at internal base of 1.70 metres, tapering to 1.1 metres at the top of the structure. The original design included a pagoda-like dome at the apex of the structure, however the top is currently defined by a cement redered parapet. The base of the structure contains an iron inspection hatch into which is engraved, "Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage 1899". Brickwork is slightly ornamental but is more austere than that of similar stacks built earlier on the southern side of the Harbour. Parallel steel bands now encircle the structure, introduced during the 1960's as a stabilisation device.
Date condition updated:26 May 00
Modifications and dates: The ventshaft is located along side the Cahill Express Way. Some of the cracks that are present along the length of the ventshaft may be the result of earth movements during the construction of the expressway in the 1960's. As such, a series of circular steel bands have been applied to the exterior of the Vent, at evenly spaced intervals, as a stabilisation measure.
Further information: Refer to other inventory listings for Lewisham Sewer Vent, Bellevue Hill Sewer Ventshaft, Glebe Sewer Ventshaft, Marrickville Sewer Ventshaft
Current use: Sewer Ventilation
Former use: Sewer Ventilation


Historical notes: Part of the original North Sydney sewerage system built by the government between 1891 and 1898. Oral history sources have revealed that prior to the construction of the Bradfield Expressway, foul odours permeated the area. Successive complaints may have led to the removal of the dome which is no longer in situ. Odours are still detectable under certain climatic conditions. Expressway construction in the 1960's may have been responsible for severe movement in the shaft of the structure which may have caused cracking. Stabilisation has been undertaken, involving the introduction of steel hoops around the brickwork. The stack was originally wholly within St.Leonards Park, however as this was reclaimed by the Highway, the vent now stands on an island separate to the Park.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
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 (none)-
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 Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The ventshaft is an important and essential part of the original North Sydney sewerage system, which still remains. It played a large role in dissipating odourous gases from the system and away from residential/street levels.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The ventshaft is an excellent example of brick work with ornate sections at and around the base and entasis to the shaft. It is a landmark on the North Sydney expressway and adds to the landscape of the adjacent park, St Leonards Park and North Sydney Oval.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The ventshaft is significant in the development of the sewerage system itself. Without the ventshaft gases built up within the system were extremely dangerous to the community and the workers and is therefore likely to be held in high regard by the community for its function. It has been identified by the National Trust of Australia (NSW).
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Ventshafts and their development show the progress made in understanding how and why gases formed in the sewerage system. They also show how the different types of ventshafts were employed to dissipate odourous gases.
SHR Criteria f)
Rare in the SWC system and in NSW as one of a small number of ventshafts of its type limited to the late nineteenth century period.
SHR Criteria g)
An excellent representation of a tall brick ventilation constructed around the turn of the century. Unique in its brickwork.
Integrity/Intactness: Considerably 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 0164115 Nov 02 2209709
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register 285047   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Sydney Water Heritage Study1996285047Graham Brooks and Associates Pty LtdGRAHAM BROOKS AND ASSOCIATES PTY LTD 1 July 1996 Yes
Alexandra Canal Conservation Management Plan2004 NSW Department of Commenrce, Heritage Design Services  Yes

References, internet links & images


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: 5053880

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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