Electricity Substation No. 167 | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Electricity Substation No. 167

Item details

Name of item: Electricity Substation No. 167
Other name/s: #167 'AUBURN' 33KV ZONE SUBSTATION, 'ELECTRICITY SUBSTATION'
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Utilities - Electricity
Category: Electricity Transformer/Substation
Location: Lat: -33.8442240399 Long: 151.0424298330
Primary address: 93 Parramatta Road, Auburn, NSW 2144
Parish: St John
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Auburn
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Gandangara
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOTA DP347473
LOTC DP347473
LOT167 DP610769

Boundary:

Whole site, as described in real property description. However the significance is primarily limited to the building. The internal equipment, transformer yard and transformers have been rebuilt or replaced multiple times.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
93 Parramatta RoadAuburnAuburnSt JohnCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
AusgridState Government 

Statement of significance:

Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 is significant at state level as the main high voltage electricity distribution point for this part of Sydney when constructed in 1924 by the Municipal Council of Sydney.

It is representative of the Municipal Council's extension of its role as a regional electricity supplier to what were then outlying areas of Sydney. Auburn marks the western extent of the Council's network, with power further west being supplied from a private company based in Parramatta.

Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 was the most substantial piece of early electrical infrastructure constructed in western Sydney in the 1920s and is the only one which remains in service for its original purpose. It was integral to the development of the Auburn area as a major industrial area in the mid- to late-20th century.

Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 is significant at state level as a large and attractive industrial structure which features Art Nouveau and Art Deco detailing to the street facade. Stylistically, the substation is a grand example of this type of substation architecture, which is generally characterised by smaller buildings. It is the largest of this style of substation and externally retains its character as an early 20th century industrial building.

The building was substantially and sympathetically extended in the late 1920s by the Municipal Council of Sydney in response to the rapid growth of the Auburn area and increased demand for electricity.
Date significance updated: 08 Nov 07
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: City Architect, Municipal Council of Sydney (Mr Broderick, 1924. 1929 extensions, WF White)
Builder/Maker: Municipal Council of Sydney
Construction years: 1924-1929
Physical description: The Auburn Zone substation is a large and impressive two storey structure . It is prominently located at a major corner intersection and acts as a local landmark.
Built in 1924, it was designed by the City Architect of the Municipal Council of Sydney (Mr Broderick) in the Interwar Art Nouveau style. It was substantially and sympathetically extended in 1929 (by MCS City Architect WF White) to become the largest of its style of substation built by the Municipal Council of Sydney.
The Auburn Zone substation is a brick and cement render structure. The lower storey is finished in tuck-pointed face brick, and the upper storey is finished with a smooth cement render.
The MCS logo and "ELECTRICITY SUBSTATION" are embossed in large lettering on the facade. The facade is asymmetrical with an elaborate entrance and hipped roof to one side, and a parapet and simpler plant entrance to the other.
The street facade features Art Nouveau and Art Deco detailing.
The style of Federation Arts and Crafts is evidenced by elements of Art Nouveau including the lettering style, treatment of the facade, a curvilinear cornice above the main doorway surmounted by stylised rendered pilasters, dentils and a small gable.
The two entrance doors are later modifications and are a steel-roller shutter type.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Generally good. Timber windows require painting. Minor grafitti.
Modifications and dates: The substation has been substantially altered internally over its life, including the replacement of most internal equipment. The site had a major upgrade in 2007 designed to continue its operational life into the future.

From the Minutes of the Electricity Supply Committee, Municipal Council of Sydney (CRS 14):

11/10/33 p641Connected substation # 72 (Five Dock) to #167 Auburn

15/8/34 p802 new Merz Price Balanced Voltage System Protection to be installed once Clyde Engineering Works substation is on line

Roof, gutters and downpipes replaced. Gutters and downpipes are sympathetic in style. Two entrance doors replaced with steel roller doors. Later chain wire boundary fences.

Transformer yard and equipment has been upgraded and replaced multiple times.

2007: Internal crane recorded and removed to allow for equipment upgrades and installation of a new crane.

2008-9: Media report of upgrade - 2 new transformer bays of precast concrete panels and columns lined with a brick faade, new equipment inside - completion is due in early 2009 (The Auburn Review, 1/7/08).
Current use: High Voltage Electricity Zone Substation
Former use: High Voltage Electricity Zone Substation

History

Historical notes: The Auburn Zone substation No. 167 is a purpose designed and built structure dating from 1924, constructed by the Municipal Council of Sydney. The zone substation is located at the border between the area suppled by the Municipal Council of Sydney and that supplied by the private Parramatta and Granville Electric Company. Auburn Zone substation No. 167 was constructed as the main high voltage electricity distribution point for this part of Sydney and was the largest electrical facility built in western Sydney at that time.

The substation was substantially and sympathetically extended c. 1929 in response to increased demand for electricity driven by the rapid growth of the Auburn area. Its development marks the extension of the Municipal Council of Sydney's role as a regional electricity supplier to, what were in the 1920s, outlying areas of Sydney. Substation No 167 was integral to the development of the Auburn area as a major industrial area in the mid to late 20th century.
The site was substantially upgraded in 2007 to extend its operational life for the foreseeable future.

Electricity Provision in Sydney, 1904 to present
In 1904, the year in which the first power station in Sydney commenced operations, the Municipal Council of Sydney (MCS) was formed to produce and distribute electric light and power to central Sydney. From 1904 until 1935 the MCS, as both an electricity generation and distribution authority, constructed hundreds of small distribution substations throughout Sydney, many of which are still in service. The MCS supplied electricity to retail customers around the inner city, inner west and lower north shore and provided bulk power to outer western and northern suburbs such as Penrith, Hornsby and Manly.
The MCS initially competed against a number of private electricity supply companies. These were mostly small-scale operations which the MCS had acquired by 1914. The exception was the Electric Light and Power Supply Corporation (ELPSC), established in 1909, which was the one major private player in the Sydney electricity market until 1955 when it was nationalised by the Electricity Commission of NSW.

In 1935 the functions of the MCS Electricity Department were taken over by the Sydney County Council (SCC) with broad responsibility for electricity supply across the Sydney region. There was rapid expansion in the electricity distribution network with 40-50 substations constructed annually. The scale of SCC's operations consistently made it the largest local authority in Australia throughout the second half of the 20th century.
In 1991 the SCC was reconstituted as Sydney Electricity (a statutory authority). In 1996 Sydney Electricity merged with the Hunter regional electricity authority Orion (formerly Shortland Electricity) and was corporatised as EnergyAustralia, which it remains today (2007).

Substation design, 1904 to present
Electricity distribution substations were generally built as modest 1 or 2 storey buildings, with Zone Substations considerably larger in scale.

The style and nature of substation construction became progressively more standardised as the electricity network expanded. While the earliest substations tended to be large, well-ornamented public buildings, as they became more commonplace, substations became smaller and simpler. This reflected the need for cost-effective construction methods, the reduction in size of electrical equipment and the speed with which substations needed to be constructed to keep pace with demand.
While early substations were often purpose-designed and built for a specific location, by the late 1920s the trend was for standardised designs built to a similar size and generally designed to fit on a standard suburban subdivision block, typically 100-200 m2.

Designs did keep pace with architectural trends and it is possible to identify a number of different and distinct architectural styles of substations. One-off designed substations did continue to be built well into the mid-20th century thought these tended to be restricted to what the SCC referred to as "high class" suburbs in Sydney's east.

The number of substations constructed in the Sydney region exploded from the late 1920s, with dozens of substations being constructed in any one year to cope with expanding demand. While in the early years of network construction many substations had unique characteristics and were sited in response to a particular need, from the late 1920s standardised designs were generally used and expansion was based on a need to establish and expand the electricity grid rather than in response to localised or site-specific issues.

By the 1950s the trend towards architecturally designed and detailed substations was exhausted. From that point on, the freestanding metal kiosk-style substation was progressively introduced, while buildings, where they were constructed, tended towards strictly functional unadorned brick enclosures.

Substation design was also influenced by the general changes in Australian building construction in the mid-20th century. The trend towards larger steel and concrete buildings saw "chamber"" style substations incorporated directly within new buildings. In such circumstances the electricity provider had little or no input into the architectural style of the substation chamber, merely supplying technical requirements which influenced the location and size of the substation within the new building.
This trend also saw smaller older-style substations demolished in some areas and replaced with new chamber substations incorporated into a new development. This style of construction is commonplace today, particularly in high density urban areas.
EnergyAustralia's older substations range from very finely detailed to very plain and functional.

The early government-run electrical authorities were aware of the need to make substations in residential areas attractive and in keeping with the surroundings, and an architect joined the substation design area of Sydney County Council in 1936. By contrast, the modern trend is to make substations essentially invisible, through incorporating them into larger buildings, placing them wholly underground or within anonymous small steel boxes which tend to be ignored in urban environments. The exception to this continues to be the zone substations and high voltage switchyards, which continue to require large buildings or areas of land to house equipment.

Historically, better quality buildings tended to be reserved for what the MCS referred to as "high class" suburbs (particularly Woollahra and Mosman) while middle- and working-class suburbs generally received much simpler, functional buildings. Designs tended to be reused, sometimes with only minimal variation.
There are also marked stylistic differences between substations constructed by government as opposed to those constructed by the Electric Light and Power Supply Corporation (ELPSC) throughout the first half of the 20th century. The ELPSC substations tend to be functionalist brick boxes with only the slightest degree of architectural detailing or ornamentation, whereas the substations constructed by municipalities, while often reusing the same underlying design with minor variation, tend to be more finely detailed and in many instances are designed to match the architecture of the surrounding area. This may reflect the different nature of the competing priorities of a private as opposed to a government enterprise. A number of former ELPSC structures exist within the EnergyAustralia network.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Technologies for electrical supply-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Distributing electricity-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Developing roles for private provision of electricity-
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 reticulated water-
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 industrial structures-
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 - Interwar Streamline Moderne-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Walter Frederick White, City Architect's Dept, Municipal Council of Sydney-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 is significant at state level both for its association with a significant historical phase, in the expansion of electricity provision to outlying areas of Sydney in the 1920s, and as demonstration of the continuity of historical activity in the provision of electricity to this area.
Electricity Zone Substations are the critical backbone of the electricity network and serve as the points where the high voltage power supplied from the generation system is received and transformed for distribution to the network of small distribution substations and thence to customers.
Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 was the major high voltage distribution point for this area of Sydney during the 1920s and was a key piece of infrastructure in the expansion and development of industry in the Auburn area in the mid to late 20th century.
This zone substation is the largest piece of electrical infrastructure that was built by the Municipal Council of Sydney in western Sydney.
Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 has been continually upgraded over the intervening years and continues to serve its original function as an item of critical infrastructure within Sydney's electricity network (2007).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Auburn Zone Electricity Substation No. 167 is significant at state level for its association with the work of Walter Frederick White (ARIA) from c. 1924 to 1947 at the City Architect's Office, Municipal Council of Sydney and its successor organisation, Sydney County Council. While White did not design the original building, he was responsible for its 1929 extensions.
Other electricity substations that White is also known to have designed are No. 269, Bondi (1928) and No. 349, Randwick (1930), both of which were prestige structures in the Mediterranean/Spanish Mission styles designed to complement the building stock of these suburbs.
Further research should reveal additional surviving substations built by the Municipal Council of Sydney and Sydney County Council that can be attributed to WF White.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 is significant at state level for its size and style.
Electricity zone substations were considerably larger structures than ordinary substations. No. 167 is a large and attractive structure which features Art Nouveau and Art Deco detailing to the street facade. It is the largest of this style of substation constructed by the Municipal Council of Sydney, a style that was typically characterised by much smaller buildings.
The high standard of electricity substation design of the 1920s and 1930s demonstrates the undertaking of the Municipal Council of Sydney (and later the Sydney County Council) to apply architectural design to utilitarian structures.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site does not meet this criterion.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The site does not meet this criterion. While it continues its original function, its internal equipment has been completely altered over the life of the building.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Auburn Zone Substation No. 167 is significant at state level as the largest and most intact of the zone substations constructed by the Municipal Council of Sydney in the Interwar Art Nouveau style.
It shares stylistic similarities with two other similar period and style zone substations, but is the best example of the type.
Zone Substation No. 80, Chatswood (1923) is a smaller example of the style which has had a greater degree of modification than the Auburn Zone Station.
Zone Substation No. 129, Hunters Hill (1928, located in Gladesville), is another smaller example of the style which was originally of a similar design to Auburn Zone Substation No. 167. No. 129 has, however, been considerably altered, including the demolition of a two-storey portion of the building on the front facade which has been replaced with a brick wall.
Both Zone Substations No. 80 and No. 129 have been assessed by EnergyAustralia for its s. 170 Heritage and Conservation Register as having local significance.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Auburn Electricity Substation No. 167 is significant at state level as typical, in scale and function, of the high voltage substations built throughout Sydney in the 1920s and 1930s for the expansion of the electricity network.
It is the largest and most intact example of its style.
Integrity/Intactness: Some internal and external modification but fundamentally 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:

This item is important to the heritage of NSW and should be conserved. A Conservation Management Plan should be prepared for this item. Original details must be maintained including doors, windows and original signage. New materials should be sympathetic to the nature and character of the original building. In the event of major proposed changes prepare a Statement of Heritage Impact and undertake an archival recording. Assess proposed changes against the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval and, if necessary, seek approval under the Heritage Act. Wherever possible, changes should be restricted to the interior of the building and be designed to minimise impact to significant fabric. Routine maintenance of existing fabric is essential.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions SCHEDULE C

In accordance with section 57(2) of the Heritage Act recommend that, in addition to the Heritage Council Standard Exemptions, the Minister grant the following exemptions from section 57(1) to cover works in progress prior to potential gazettal:
All works and activities currently in progress for Electricity Substation No. 167, Auburn that have been approved under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, notified to Auburn Council and outlined in the following documents: Heritage Impact Assessment, Graham Brooks and Associates, June 2006; Review of Environmental Factors, Environmental Services Unit, EnergyAustralia, June 2006, and Archival Recording, Graham Brooks and Associates, January 2007.
May 2 2008
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
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT, 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)

ENERGYAUSTRALIA - SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS


I, the Minister for Planning, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act, 1977, do, by this my order

(a) under section 57(2) of the Heritage Act grant exemption from Heritage Council approval under Section 57(1) of the Heritage Act, as outlined in Schedule A, for the following activities described in 1-15 below, subject to review and approval by a person with demonstrated heritage expertise and experience in similar buildings and sites.

1. Replacement of corrugated asbestos roofing systems, box gutters and eaves with corrugated metal roofing system which maintains the general profile of the building roof and does not require replacement of structural fabric of the roof and retains any decorative features of the original roof design (e.g. exposed eaves, decorative soffits or barge boards). The choice of roofing material should not preclude the reinstatement of the original form of rainwater goods.

2. Replacement of non-original switchgear and associated internal building rearrangements to accommodate new switchgear, which does not require the significant removal of building fabric.

3. Replacement of non-original internal and external transformers.

4. Internal installation of fire mitigation apparatus and mechanisms including fire curtains, sheeting of structural members to improve fire rating and replacement of internal fire doors with asbestos cores.

5. Minor works necessary to preserve and enhance the security of the building including the replacement of locks, installation of internal security screens and grilles and the installation of electronic access control devices.

6. Maintenance and minor repairs that are necessary to preserve and maintain the building and are within the limits of the standard exemptions of the Heritage Act.

7. Excavations and reinstatement associated with installation or replacement of conduits, cables, services and pipes, where this will occur within existing cable egress areas or existing cable jointing areas and there are no known or suspected archaeological relics.

8. Minor works internal to the building including:
a) Replacement of Customer Load Control Equipment.
b) Upgrade of non-original toilet / washroom facilities.
c) Upgrade of control room equipment.
d) Refurbishment of battery rooms.
e) The removal of asbestos materials such as interior and external sheet linings, fire proofing, troughing, conduits, window sealant, asbestos fire doors etc.
f) The removal of devices and equipment containing mercury or other heavy metals.
g) Removal of lead-based paint and reinstatement with the original paint scheme.
h) Replacement of non-original lighting fixtures, including electrical controls where they are required for security or safety.

9. Minor internal works necessary to upgrade and enhance the structural integrity of the building which do not impact on the heritage significance of the building including:
a) The internal fitting of improved handrails and or stairs to access higher stories for the reason of safe access.
b) The upgrade of non-original internal lifting / crane equipment in loading docks specifically required for manual handling of equipment to meet WorkCover requirements.

10. Temporary works including containment areas, scaffolding and enclosures necessary for the carrying out of maintenance, enhancement or upgrading works.

11. Installation of safety or information signs, not being for commercial or advertising purposes.

12. Maintenance and painting of finished building surfaces where colour of finish is matched to the original colour.

13. Decommissioning of a substation and removal of non-original equipment.

14. Installation of oil containment systems in order to meet NSW EPA Pollution Licence requirements, in the following circumstances:
a) Masonry or concrete bunding around transformers and within existing transformer bays.
b) Underground oil containment works or systems in areas where there are no known or suspected archaeological relics.

15. Ventilation and air conditioning works limited to:
a) Replacement of existing external vents and louvres in a style consistent with the external appearance of the building.
b) Replacement of non-mechanical rooftop ventilators in a style consistent with the form, scale and position of existing ventilators.
c) Internal air conditioning systems with no externally visible components and which do not require the removal of original building fabric.

KRISTINA KENEALLY, M.P.,
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 5 Day of May 2009


SCHEDULE A

Item State Heritage Register Listing Number

Electricity Power House, Crows Nest SHR 00931
Relay Test Centre, Haberfield SHR 00933
Substation, Ultimo SHR 00934
Substation, Randwick SHR 00935
Substation, Balgowlah SHR 00936
Substation, Manly SHR 00938
Substation, Paddington SHR 00939
Substation, Pymble SHR 00940
Substation, Annandale SHR 00941
Electricity Substation No 167, Auburn SHR 01790
Electricity Substation No 269, Bondi SHR 01791
Electricity Substation No 349, Randwick SHR 01792
May 15 2009

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0179002 May 08 483584

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Sydney Electricity Section 170 Register1994 Schwager Brooks and Partners  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenNorth, M2007Energy Australia Heritage & Conservation Register Review Project, Final Report
WrittenWilkenfeld, G & Spearritt, P2004Electrifying Sydney

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: 5060568
File number: H07/00157-001


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