Former factory chimney stack | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Former factory chimney stack

Item details

Name of item: Former factory chimney stack
Other name/s: Murray Spinning Mills, Golds Hosiery Mills, The Gramophone Co Ltd (His Master’s Voice, HMV), Australia Silknit Pty Ltd, Printext Pty Ltd
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Manufacturing and Processing
Category: Factory/ Plant
Primary address: 127 Railway Parade, Erskineville, NSW 2043
Local govt. area: Sydney


Chimney stack and surrounding open space, as described in Sydney Local Environmental Plan
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
127 Railway ParadeErskinevilleSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Built in approximately 1916 as part of the underwear and hosiery factory for Murray Spinning Mills, this chimney stack represents the industrial development of Erskineville during the early twentieth century. The remnant chimney stack is historically significant for its connection to Australian manufacturing of hosiery and underwear during the 1920s and 1940s, gramophones and records in the 1920s and 1930s and textiles between the 1940s and 1980s. The continued association of the site with manufacturing textiles provides evidence of the formerly widespread textiles industry within the City of Sydney.

The chimney stack is significant for its association with one of the first manufacturers of underwear and hosiery in Australia, Murray Spinning Mills. The construction of the former factory represents the growth of the company and the popularity of its products during the inter-war period. The chimney stack is also significant for its association from 1925 with one of Australia’s earliest manufacturers of gramophones, the Gramophone Company, better known by its brand name ‘his masters voice’ or HMV.

The chimney demonstrates or is associated with technological changes during the early twentieth century in power sources, textiles manufacturing and music reproduction. The chimney provides evidence of the former use of steam to power industrial machinery before the advent of and widespread access to electricity. As a surviving remnant of the former Murray Spinning Mills and later Gramophone Company, the chimney is also associated with the expansion of Australia's textiles industry into fine knitted undergarments and technological advancements in music reproduction by these two Australian manufacturers during the early twentieth century.

The structure represents a good example of an inter-war period chimney stack. It exhibits typical characteristics of this period applied to a utilitarian structure including its simple geometric massing, face brickwork in garden wall bond and corbelled brick detailing. The height and prominence of the chimney stack makes it a local landmark, which is visible in the round from a number of vantage points in surrounding streets.

The chimney’s landmark qualities in the local neighbourhood may have value to recent and past residents as a point of reference and tangible connection to the industrial past of Erskineville. Community opposition to the proposed demolition of the chimney stack in 2000 demonstrated its value to the local community.

The chimney stack survives as a rare intact remnant of the former Murray Spinning Mills and Gramophone Company factory in Erskineville following the site’s extensive redevelopment for housing.

The chimney stack is of local heritage significance in terms of its historical, aesthetic and representative value.
Date significance updated: 25 Jan 16
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: John Reid and Son
Builder/Maker: H J and J W Thompson
Construction years: 1916-1916
Physical description: The chimney stack was likely constructed in 1916 as part of the factory for Murray Spinning Mills. The chimney stack is located within the redeveloped former factory site bound by Railway Parade, Clara Street and Ada Street. The brick chimney measures approximately 26.7 metres in height and 2.5 metres across the base.

The chimney stack exhibits typical characteristics of the inter-war period applied to a utilitarian structure including its simple geometric massing, face brickwork in garden wall bond and corbelled brick detailing.

The tall chimney stack is visible from a number of near and distant vantage points.

Alterations to the chimney stack have included repointing its brickwork and strengthening the structure through regularly placed metal bands installed in approximately 2001.

The surrounding site was redeveloped for housing between 1998 and 2003 resulting in the extensive demolition of the former factory. The chimney stack and the heavily altered factory façade remain as the only intact surviving remnants of the industrial use of the site.

The foundations and internal structure of the chimney have not been inspected by the authors.

Category: Structure. Style: Inter-war. Façade: Face brick.
Modifications and dates: 23 July 1997
Council approved an application of 45 residential units with the retention of the chimney and the brick facades along the Clara Street and Railway Parade elevations

Site redeveloped for residential units

16 August 2000 - Section 96 application for the demolition of the chimney stack refused

2001 - Brickwork of the chimney repointed and the structure strengthened with metal bands
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.
Current use: Chimney stack
Former use: Chimney stack


Historical notes: Early development of locality:

This site forms part of the land of the Gadigal people, the traditional custodians of land within the City of Sydney council boundaries. For information about the Aboriginal history of the local area see the City’s Barani website:

Land in the area to the south of Central Station was granted to Nicholas Devine, a superintendent of convicts, in 1794 and 1799. Devine built a house called Burren Farm near the corner of present George Street and Erskineville Road. After his death in 1830, the property was passed on to Bernard Rochford and his wife who had cared for Devine in his old age. Rochford subdivided and sold the estate. Some of the land was bought by Reverend George Erskine, a Wesleyan Minister who built Erskine Villa in 1830. He died there in 1834. The villa was subsequently owned by Mr Robert Henderson, a naturalist, followed by William Toogood, a Sydney inn-keeper. When Toogood died, he left the property to the Church of England and it became the rectory for the Holy Trinity Church in Macdonaldtown. (Pollon 1996)

By 1852, Erskineville had been developed with a mix of housing and industry. The discovery of rich clay deposits around the area now known as Sydney Park led to the development of a number of brickworks in the surrounding suburbs including Erskineville, Alexandria and St Peters. The area became one of the largest brick producing areas of the city. In the 1890s, it was said that “as many as 1,500,000 bricks were manufactured in Alexandria every day [and that] the greatest part of the city of Sydney has been built from the brickyards of Alexandria” (Alexandria – The Birmingham of Australia, p.78).

In 1893, part of what was formerly known as Macdonaldtown became a new suburb when parliament passed the Borough of Erskineville Naming Act. In 1911, electric trams began running to Erskineville. By 1920 the suburb had become the home of many workers, some employed in local brickmaking, bootmaking and hat manufacturing industries. (Pollon 1996)

Industrial history:

As one of only two major centres for historic Australian industry during the period when industry was centred in cities, Sydney’s industrial development is part of the national history of industrialisation. Australia’s industrialisation formed part of the ‘second industrial revolution’ which began during the mid-nineteenth century. This second revolution was driven by major technological innovations including the invention of the internal combustion engine and the assembly line, development of electricity, the construction of canals, railways and electric-power lines.

Sydney's twentieth century industrial development records when and how Sydney became one of the largest industrialised cities in the South Pacific and the diversification of Australia's economy beyond primary industry. Together with Melbourne, Sydney’s twentieth century industrial boom expanded Australia’s economy from the ‘sheep’s back’ to the ‘industry stack’ or from primary production to manufacturing. By 1947 more Australians were working in city industries than in farms or mines.

Sydney’s industrial development not only impacted on the national economy. Twentieth-century industry in Sydney also played a major role in developing Australia’s self-sufficiency, growth, urbanisation, society and its contribution to the war effort for World War II. Sydney’s industrial development has affected the lives of many Australians directly and indirectly, whether through the number of workers employed, goods and technology produced, the prosperity it engendered, or the social change and urban environments it generated.

Murray Spinning Mills:

Thomas Murray was born in Scotland in 1859. He came to Australia as the manager of a factory in Geelong. In 1899, Thomas Murray established a small knitting mill in Richmond, Victoria. The company was one of the earliest manufacturers of underwear and hosiery in Australia.

Murray Spinning Mills may be associated with the well known Murrays Mills of Manchester, England, who were large scale manufacturers in the cotton trade throughout the nineteenth century.

In 1902 Mr F. F. Robinson joined the firm which subsequently became known as Thomas Murray and Co in 1904. There were such high demands for the undergarments produced by the company that the Richmond factory site grew to more than three times its original size in the early twentieth century. In 1908, the company manufactured golden fleece woollen underwear and subsequently expanded to include the manufacture of swimwear. The company became known as Australian Knitting Mills in 1910. (The Argus, Melbourne, Wednesday 22 September 1937, p34)

In 1906, the company commenced its operations in Alexandria under the name Murray S.M. Company Ltd. By 1916, the company had also commenced operations in Erskineville. During the period of its expansion to Sydney, the company was also known as Thomas Murray, Son and Co and Murray Spinning Mills (Richmond Guardian, Saturday 24 March 1917, p2).

Thomas Murray died in 1916. He was considered to be a pioneer of the hosiery trade in Australia (SMH, Monday 25 September 1916, p10). The company’s operations were continued by his son, Robert Murray.

Prior to the 1920’s, the manufacture of hosiery and knitted goods was conducted on a very small scale in Australia (C Forster, Industrial Development in Australia 1920-1930, Australian National University, Canberra, 1964, p 93).

During the 1920s, the range of production of textiles extended to finer qualities of yarn and cloth. By the end of the decade, textile imports had been reduced to a minor portion of the market. Australia's cotton manufacturing was a new emerging industry throughout the twenties. Cotton spinning began in Sydney in 1923. Import tariffs played a role in the success of local manufacturers. Australian manufacturers focussed on displacing the imported cloth and producing woollen yarn for knitting mills. (, accessed 15 January 2015).

The hosiery and knitted goods trade in Australia supported the production of a wide variety of products including stockings, socks, underwear, outer wear and bathing costumes. Many of the goods produced by this industry utilised Australian wool and cotton. (The Argus, Melbourne, Wednesday 22 September 1937, p34)

Site history:

The chimney stack is located in the centre of the former industrial site on the corner of Railway Parade and Clara Street. This structure was likely constructed as part of the factory erected for Murray Spinning Mills in 1916. The construction of a chimney stack for the spinning mill reflects the prevalent use of steam to power industrial machinery before the advent and widespread access to electricity.

In 1916, a number of lots on Railway Parade were purchased by Thomas Murray. The lots were amalgamated to form one parcel of land and then sold to Murray Spinning Mills. A certificate of title for the lots 36-46 of deposited plan 4062 was issued to the company on 3 February 1916 (CT 2642 f 66).

On 11 June 1916, the Sunday Times reported the construction of a new factory for Murray Spinning Mills in Erskineville. The factory was designed by John Reid and Son and was built by H J and J W Thompson at an estimated cost of £4,100 (Sunday Times, 11 June 1916, p 4). The factory was in use by the end of 1916. The chimney stack was likely to have been built as part of these works and may have related to the generation of power for the machinery used in the factory.

The Erskineville factory site was an expansion of the company originally established in 1899 by Thomas Murray in Richmond, Victoria. The construction of the Murray Spinning Mills in Erskineville reflects the rapid growth of the Australian textile manufacturing industry in the inter-war period.

In September 1916, E N Chambers left the Queensland Woollen Mills in North Ipswich to take up the position of manager of Murray Spinning Mills in Erskineville (Queensland Times [Ipswich], 2 September 1916, p 7).

The site’s occupation by Murray Spinning Mills Ltd was recorded in the Sands Directory in 1917 and every subsequent year until 1920 (Sands, Directory, 1917, p 411; 1918, p 318; 1919 p 323; 1920, p 334).

On 7 October 1920, the factory was purchased by Golds Hosiery Mills Ltd who operated four mills in Sydney at that time (CT 2642 f 66).

In 1921, Sydney Combing Mills were listed as occupants of the site (Sands, Directory, 1921, p 348). However, from 1922-1924, Golds Hosiery Mills were listed at the same address (Sands, Directory, 1922, p 362; 1924 p 364).

The company suffered significant decline and by 1925, was in liquidation. The company attributed its failure to overseas imports. This resulted in a call for stronger tarrif protection for Australian manufacturers and motivated the Federal government to increase the tariffs on these goods (C Forster, Industrial Development in Australia 1920-1930, p 95).

On 4 May 1925, the factory was sold to the Gramophone Company Ltd, also known by its well known brand name HMV which stood for ‘his master’s voice’ (CT 2642 f 66). The company intended to commence the production of gramophones at the site in the same year and employ approximately 400 workers in Sydney (SMH Thursday 7 May 1925, p9). After its conversion for the manufacture of gramophones, the factory was officially opened by Jack Lang, Premier of New South Wales. The factory was subsequently described as ‘the most complete and well equipped record factory outside of England and America’ (SMH Tuesday 19 January 1926, p11). Numerous newspaper articles described gramophone manufacturing as a new Australian industry in the 1920s and highlighted the company’s intention to supply enough records for the whole of Australia (Queensland Times (Ipswich), Firday 8 May 1925, p9).

The Sands Directories listed the Gramophone Company at this address from 1926 to 1931 (Sands, Directory, 1927 p 365; 1928 p 374; 1929, p 395; 1930, p 384; 1931, p 354). By 1940, the main works of the company had been relocated to Parramatta Road in Homebush (Directory of Manufacturers of Australia, C E S Turner & Sons, Sydney and Melbourne, 1939-40, p 204).

On 2 October 1940, the site was purchased by Australia Silknit Ltd and was likely used for the manufacture of ladies lingerie (CT 2642 f 66). Australia Silknit operated as a public company in New South Wales since 30 December 1927 (The ‘Digest’ Year Book of Public Companies Australia & New Zealand, 1949, Jobson’s Publications Pty Ltd, Sydney, p 29). During the 1940s, the company occupied a number of properties around Sydney in addition to the Erskineville site. In 1940, the company was listed at Parramatta Road, Camperdown (Directory of Manufacturers of Australia, C E S Turner & Sons, Sydney and Melbourne, 1939-40, p 73). In 1949, the company’s office was located at 45 Reservoir Street, Surry Hills (The ‘Digest’ Year Book of Public Companies Australia & New Zealand, 1949, Jobson’s Publications Pty Ltd, Sydney, p 29).

The 1950 Civic Survey showed the site was occupied by Printex Pty Ltd (Civic Survey sheet NSCA). However, the 1956 Building Surveyors Detail Sheet showed it was occupied by Australia Silknit Ltd (Building Surveyors Detail Sheet 19 NSCA).

On 7 August 1963, the site was purchased by B H Consolidated Pty Ltd (CT 2642 f 66). On 6 October 1966, the property was leased to B & B Dyers and Bleachers Pty Ltd (CT 2642 f 66). On 8 November 1968, the property was purchased by Bart Properties Pty Ltd (CT 2642 f 66).

On 20 June 1969, Quilton Pty Ltd applied to use the site for the manufacture of bedspreads, curtains and quilting (127-145 Railway Parade, Street cards, NSCA).

On 20 June 1969, Osti Holdings Ltd, a manufacturer of stylish women’s clothing, applied to undertake alterations and additions on the site. These works were valued at $5,400 (127-145 Railway Parade, COS Street cards). On 7 July 1975, Osti Holdings applied to use the site as offices and accommodation. This was followed by another application on 10 September 1975 to erect office partitions. These works were valued at $8,000 (127-145 Railway Parade, Street cards, NSCA).

The property was purchased by S D T Pty Ltd on 26 May 1983 and was subsequently purchased by Finma Pty Ltd on 12 January 1989 (CT 2642 f 66).

In 1997, the site was recorded as being used as a factory, warehouse and offices of a textile company.

On 23 July 1997, an application for the redevelopment of the site into 45 residential units was approved by council.

On 16 August 2000, a section 96 application for the demolition of the chimney stack was refused. Strong support for the retention of the chimney stack was expressed among members of the local community.

In 2001, the chimney’s brickwork was repointed and the structure was strengthened with metal bands.

Time line:
Timeline of known dates for changes to the site:

Thomas Murray purchased a number of allotments in Erskineville which he amalgamated into a larger parcel of land and sold to Murray Spinning Mills Ltd

3 February 1916
Certificate of Title for Lots 36 to 46, DP 4062 issued to The Murray Spinning Mills Ltd

June 1916
New factory constructed in Erskineville by H J and J W Thompson to the plans by architects John Reid and Son for Murray Spinning Mills Ltd, manufacturer of women’s underwear and hosiery.

Murray Spinning Mills Ltd first appeared on this site in the Sands Directories and continued to be listed until 1920

7 October 1920
Site sold to Golds Hosiery Mills Ltd

Directory listed Sydney Combing Mills at 133-7 Railway Parade

1922 to 1924
Directory listed Golds Hosiery Mills Ltd. at 133-7 Railway Parade

4 May 1925
Golds Hosiery Mills Ltd (in liquidation) sold the site to Gramophone Company Ltd

Factory converted for use by the Gramophone Company

1927 to 1931
Directory listed Gramophone Company Ltd (His Master’s Voice)

2 October 1940
Site sold to Australia Silknit Ltd

Civic Survey sheet shows site occupied by Printex Pty Ltd

Building Surveyors sheet shows the site was occupied by Australia Silknit Ltd

7 August 1963
Site sold to B H Consolidated Pty Ltd

6 October 1966
Site leased to B & B Dyers and Bleachers Pty Ltd

8 November 1968
Site sold to Bart Properties Pty Ltd

20 June 1969
Application to use premises for the manufacture of bedspreads, curtains and quilting by Quilton Pty Ltd

16 October 1969
Application for additions and alterations by Osti Holdings Ltd worth $5,400

7 July 1975
Application for proposed offices and accommodation by Osti Holdings Pty Ltd

10 September 1975
Application to erect office partitions worth $8,000 by Osti Holdings Ltd

26 May 1983
Site sold to S D T Pty Ltd

12 January 1989
Site sold to Finma Pty Ltd

23 July 1997
Council approved an application of 45 residential units with the retention of the chimney and the brick facades along the Clara Street and Railway Parade elevations

Site redeveloped for residential units

On 16 August 2000
Section 96 application for the demolition of the chimney stack refused

Brickwork of the chimney repointed and the structure strengthened with metal bands

Recommended management:

The chimney stack should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement should be prepared for the structure prior to any major works being undertaken. Archival photographic recording, in accordance with Heritage Council guidelines, should be undertaken before major changes. Do not paint, render or seal face brickwork.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012I224722 Jan 16   
Heritage studyCity of Sydney Industrial and Warehouse Buildings 01 Oct 14   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Section 170 Register Update2009 ARTC / ORH (Australian Rail Track Corporation/Office of Rail Heritage)City Plan Heritage Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCES Truner & Sons, Sydney and Melbourne1939Directory of Manufacturers of Australia
GraphicCity of Sydney1949Aerial Survey of the City of Sydney
GraphicCity of Sydney/ City Building Surveyors Department1956City Building Surveyors Detail Sheets
ElectronicClare Land2001The Textile Industry View detail
WrittenColin Forster1964Industrial Development in Australia 1920-1930
WrittenDr Terry Kass2014Industrial and warehouse buildings research - site history
WrittenJobson’s Publications1949The ‘Digest’ Year Book of Public Companies Australia & New Zealand
WrittenJohn Sands Sands Directories, 1917-1931
WrittenQueensland Times (Ipswich), 8 May 19251925Australian made gramophone industry
WrittenRichmond Guardian, 24 March 19171917Topics of the week
GraphicRTA1943Aerial Photographs of Sydney May-June 1943.
WrittenSunday Times, 11 June 19161916The Building Trade
WrittenSydney Morning Herald, 19 January 19261926Australian made, government policy, absolute preference
WrittenSydney Morning Herald, 25 September 19161916The Late Mr Thomnas Murray
WrittenSydney Morning Herald, 7 May 19251925Gramophones - a Sydney factory
WrittenThe Argus, Melbourne, Wednesday 22 September 19371937Hosiery and knitted goods for all

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: Local Government
Database number: 5062460

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