Former F. W. Gissing factory including interiors | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Former F. W. Gissing factory including interiors

Item details

Name of item: Former F. W. Gissing factory including interiors
Other name/s: Gissing Bros, STUCCO
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Manufacturing and Processing
Category: Other - Manufacturing & Processing
Primary address: 197-207 Wilson Street, Newtown, NSW 2042
Local govt. area: Sydney


As described in Sydney Local Environmental Plan
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
197-207 Wilson StreetNewtownSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Built in approximately 1907-1929 as a glass factory for F W Gissing, this building represents the industrial development of Newtown during the early twentieth century. The factory is historically significant for its connection to the Australian manufacturing of glass products from the early to mid-twentieth century for shop windows, decorative glasswork and, later, glass louvres. The building demonstrates the growth of the glass-making industry associated with technological advancements in manufacturing large glass sheets and increasing demand for glass products in the construction industry during the early twentieth century.

The building is associated with large Australian glass manufacturers, F W Gissing Ltd, from 1907 to the late 1950s. The construction of this factory in 1907 and its expansion in the 1920s represents the growth of the glass manufacturing company and the popularity of its products during the inter-war period.

The building demonstrates the inner-city typology of an infill factory constructed within an established residential area. The surviving original components of the building represent a good example of a Federation free style factory building with consistent inter-war additions. It exhibits typical characteristics of these architectural styles including brick piers dividing the facade into bays, parapet wall concealing the roof, strongly contrasting materials and textures of polychromatic face brickwork and rendered panels, timber-framed windows, engaged brick piers projecting above parapet and straight and curvilinear parapet profiles.

While adaptively reused as student housing, the building retains its architectural integrity as a recognisable former factory. With its surviving Federation and inter-war features, industrial character, consistent building form of brick bays and parapet walls and three street frontages, the building makes an important contribution to surrounding streetscapes. The building is a distinctive feature of Wilson Street, which is visible in the round from a number of near and distant vantage points.

The former factory 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: Unknown
Builder/Maker: Unknown
Construction years: 1907-1929
Physical description: The building was constructed as a factory and office in three stages from west to east in 1907 and the 1920s. The three phases of construction were consistent in building form and design. The building occupies the site between Wilson Street and Wilson Lane with no setback from either street. The former factory comprises a one and two-storey brick building contained under multiple skillion roofs concealed behind a parapet wall.

The building is designed in the Federation free style with consistent inter-war additions. It exhibits typical characteristics of these architectural styles applied to a utilitarian building including brick piers dividing the facade into bays, parapet wall concealing the roof, strongly contrasting materials and textures of polychromatic face brickwork and rendered panels, timber-framed windows, engaged brick piers projecting above parapet and straight and curvilinear parapet profiles.

Brick walls of the street facade are constructed in Flemish bond with details accented in contrasting liver-coloured bricks. Original timber-framed windows and doors have shallow arches with three rows of headers.

The three main stages of construction are reflected in the differing parapet profiles along the main street facade. The earlier western bays of the building feature two different curvilinear parapet walls with contrasting finishes; one bay with polychromatic face brick, the other with a rendered stucco finish. The projecting piers dividing these bays are curved.

The central bays from the second phase construction are distinguished by their lower single storey height and the different profile and design of the straight-edged parapet wall. The parapet wall is finished more simply with rendered panels between facebrick piers.

By comparison, the eastern-most bays of the building likely from the final phase of construction mirror the form of the western bays, with two different profiles of curvilinear parapets, one with a roughcast rendered finish, the other face brickwork. The slope of the land towards the south and east accommodate additional levels in the basement level of the eastern bays and at the rear.

The building has been altered for conversion into student housing, while maintaining the overall building form and most of the building exteriors. Different brickwork, mortar joints and pattern of window openings indicate alterations to the two central bays. New horizontally-proportioned windows have been inserted into the parapet wall of the eastern bays for construction an additional level behind the parapet wall. The saw-tooth roof of the inter-war bays has been removed, retaining some of the structural frame over the new open internal courtyard.

The original sections of the side and rear walls are constructed of face brick in garden wall bond. The rear windows and doors appear to have been replaced, while retaining the original openings. New doorways have been inserted for access to the units. The rear wall of the western bays have been reconstructed in stretcher bond.

The roof, foundations and floor structures have not been inspected.

Individual building. Style: Federation free style and inter-war. Storeys: Two. Façade: face brick. Side/Rear Walls: face brick.
Modifications and dates: 1991 - building adaptively reused for student accommodation for University of Sydney students
Further information: The Former F. W. Gissing factory was first listed as a heritage item by Council with the gazettal of Sydney Local Environmental Plan 2012 (Amendment No. 25) on 22/1/2016.

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: Student accomodation
Former use: Glass factory


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:

The area now known as Newtown was originally farmland. Nicholas Devine received a grant of 120 acres in 1794 and another 90 acres in 1799. This land, which he called Burren Farm, incorporated the land from the south of Station Street to the area of St Peters station.

The northern area of Newtown, near what is now known as Australia Street, formed part of Thomas Rowley’s Kingston Farm. Two early settlements, one known as O’Connell Town at the end of Missenden Road, and the other near the present railway bridge, were developed within this estate.

John and Eliza Webster opened a store in a weatherboard building called the New Town Store. By 1832, the small settlement was referred to as New Town. This area became known as Newtown by 1838.

By 1838 the population had increased to over 1200 people predominantly consisting of Protestants and Roman Catholics. The development of the area was then characterised by working class homes alongside large estates.

In the 1850s the construction of the Sydney to Parramatta Junction railway line extended through the suburb. On 26 September 1855 a railway station opened opposite Station Street and was later relocated to land within the Burren Farm estate.

The municipality of Newtown was incorporated on 12 December 1862.

St Stephens Church of England on Church Street was designed by Edmund Blacket and opened in 1874. This church was shared by Camperdown and Newtown. The adjacent graveyard on land purchased from the O’Connells’ Camperdown estate holds the remains of hundreds of early residents of Sydney.

By 1923 the suburb was heavily populated with numerous works and factories. A tram service ran down King Street, which was lined on both sides with shops. Some of the larger stores of the city opened on King Street in Newtown’s early years, including family members of Hordern and Marcus Clark. (Pollon 1988, p186-187)

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.

Site history:

The building was constructed in three stages from approximately 1907-1929 as a factory and office for Frederick W Gissing. The building was used by to manufacture glass products for F W Gissing until the 1950s and thereafter for a variety of industrial purposes until 1991 when the building was converted into student housing.

Glass manufacturing during the early twentieth century moved away from hand-blown to machine-manufactured glass. The drawn sheet process of glass manufacturing which enabled the production of large sheets of glass was developed around the turn of the century. These technological advancements and the growing local demand for glass expanded the glass manufacturing industry in Australia during the early twentieth century. This method of producing sheet glass supported the construction and automotive industries until the late 1950s when the process of manufacturing float glass was developed.

On 9 September 1903 Gissing Brothers was registered as a firm at 197-199 Wilson Street, Newtown. Frederick William Gissing and Spencer Gissing were partners of the company which were general contractors, painters and glaziers. (Register of Firms, SRNSW 2/8535, No 9893)

The western section of the site, including lots 34 and 35, was purchased by the Frederick William Gissing, glass merchant of Ashfield on 25 October 1905. Gissing was first listed at that address in the Sands Directory in 1905 (Sands, Directory, 1905, p 450).

On 19 October 1907 Gissing mortgaged lots 34 and 35 which may have financed the construction of the two-storey building that is now on this section of the site (CT 928 f 106). This mortgage had been discharged by 1918.

By 5 March 1913 the company was known as F W Gissing Ltd (SRNSW, NRS 12951, Companies Office, Company Packet, No 4687).

On 29 November 1920, F W Gissing Ltd purchased 201-207 Wilson Street, then known as lots 29 to 33 of DP 2070, directly to the east of lots 34 and 35 (CT 1050 f 57). This meant that Gissing then owned 197-199 Wilson Street and his company owned the remainder of the site.

On 2 March 1921, 201-207 Wilson Street was mortgaged to the Bank of New South Wales (CT 1050 f 57). This likely financed additions to the site. The Sands Directory first recorded a building occupied by the company at 203 Wilson Street in 1921 (Sands, Directory, 1921, p 550).

The property was valued on 1 November 1925. At this time, lots 34 and 35 (197-199 Wilson Street) was recorded as a detached brick building including an office with a two-storey factory under an iron roof (Valuer-General, Valuation Card, Newtown, SRNSW 13/7753, No 1512). The valuation of the central part of the site, located on lots 32 and 33, recorded a detached brick building including a shop and offices with five rooms and an iron roof (Valuer-General, Valuation Card, Newtown, SRNSW 13/7753, No 1511). The only improvements recorded on the eastern-most portion of the site in 1925 was ‘4 sets of rocks hoarding in frontage’ (Valuer-General, Valuation Card, Newtown, SRNSW 13/7753, No 1510).

It was not until 1929 that F W Gissing was recorded as occupying 201 Wilson Street (Sands, Directory, 1929, p 650).

On 14 October 1929 another mortgage was made to the Bank of New South Wales (CT 1050 f 57). This likely financed further additions to the site. Gissing’s occupation of the western-most portion of the site at 205-7 Wilson Street first appeared in the 1931 Sands directory (Sands, Directory, 1931, p 561). Both mortgages to the Bank of New South Wales that likely financed the two main phases of additions to the factory were discharged on 19 May 1960 (CT 1050 f 57).

Following the death of Frederick William Gissing in August 1937, numbers 197-199 Wilson Street (Lots 34 and 35), the only part of the site under his ownership, was valued for death duties. The valuation recorded a detached two-storey brick office and factory with an iron roof (Stamp Duties Office, Deceased Estate File, Frederick William Gissing, pre A 116138, SRNSW 20/2278). On 10 March 1939, this property was transferred to the company manager, Sydney William Gissing of Clayfield, Brisbane, and pharmacist, Henry Ernest Gissing of Wagga Wagga (CT 928 f 106).

In 1939 F W Gissing prepared and installed a sign painted by Tom Woodman in the Liverpool Arms Hotel in Sydney. According to Powerhouse Museum collection records, F W Gissing was paid 26 pounds 12 shillings and sixpence for the sign which comprised an oil painting with gold leaf on glass. FW Gissing Ltd was one of several sign-writing firms which prepared and installed pub paintings for Tooth & Co between the 1920s and the 1960s. (Powerhouse Museum, Tooth’s KB Lager pub painting,

In 1940 F W Gissing was listed as glass merchants, sandblasters, shopfitters, bevellers and silverers. The firm also embossed glassware. (Directory of Manufacturers of Australia, C E S Turner & Sons, Sydney and Melbourne, 1939-40, p 198, 201)

On 18 June 1943, the site was purchased by Sydney William Gissing, reflecting its continued ownership and use by the Gissing family (CT 928 f 106).

By 1943 the entire site had been developed. Aerial photographs from 1943 and 1949 show the site was then occupied by a rectangular building at 197-199 Wilson Street adjoining a large saw-tooth roofed industrial building at 201-207 Wilson Street.

In 1947 a journal for home builders, architects and home decorators, Decoration and Glass, featured an advertisement for ‘Cooper Louvres’ made by the company with illustrations of their various uses in the home. This advertisement documents that the main factory operations had been moved to Camellia near Parramatta by this time, with the subject site being used as the company’s head office and glass store. (Decoration and Glass, May-June 1947)

In 1952 a newspaper advertisement for cooper louvres described F W Gissing as one of Australia’s largest glass organisations with over 60 years’ experience in the trade by this time. F W Gissing Ltd, a subsidiary of Cooper Louvre-Gissing Ltd, was the sole manufacturers of cooper louvres in Australia. This advertisement records how cooper louvres were marketed as ‘Australia’s most versatile window’ and were exported to countries including America. (SMH 2 September 1952, p12)

The 1956 City Building Surveyors Detail Sheets still records that the was occupied by F W Gissing Pty Ltd.

Numerous applications for new uses and alterations to the site were made in the second half of the twentieth century. On 23 September 1960, N V Appleton proposed alterations to 197 Wilson Street worth £5,000 for a shop front, offices and storeroom (197-207 Wilson St, Street Cards, NSCA). Concurrently, an application was made to use 197-207 Wilson Street as a shop selling glass and mirrors (197-207 Wilson St, Street Cards, NSCA). On 28 July 1964 Paul Legaert Pty Ltd applied to use 197-207 Wilson Street for manufacturing glass windows (197-207 Wilson St, Street Cards, NSCA).

On 23 December 1964 the site was purchased by Paul Legaert Pty Ltd (CT 1050 f 57).

During the 1980s, applications record a number of different uses. Systematic Carpet Installations Pty Ltd applied to use the site as a carpet warehouse on 1 September 1980. On 21 November 1985 M Udale proposed to use the site for furniture storage and distribution.

On 16 April 1987 Paul Legeart Pty Ltd proposed to construct seven strata title townhouses on the site valued at $450,000.

On 27 May 1988 the Department of Housing applied to convert the site into eight self-contained units. In 1990 works valued at $1,498,898 were undertaken by the Department of Housing and the University of Sydney to convert the site into apartments. The alterations to the building were based on a design by the university’s faculty architecture. The student accommodation, known as STUCCO, opened in July 1991 (Stucco, A Brief History

Timeline of known dates for changes to the site:

25 October 1905
Lots 34 and 35 of DP 2070 (197-199 Wilson Street) purchased by Frederick William Gissing, glass merchant of Ashfield of Lots 34 and 35 DP 2070

19 October 1907
Mortgage of Lots 34 and 35 DP 2070

5 March 1913
Company registered as F W Gissing Ltd

19 August 1918
Mortgage discharged

29 November 1920
Lots 29 to 33 purchased by F W Gissing Ltd

No 203 Wilson Street, F W Gissing Ltd first listed in Sands directory

2 March 1921
Mortgage to Bank of New South Wales

1 November 1925
Valuation records a detached brick building including an office with factory of two floors and an iron roof on lots 34 and 35, plus
a detached brick building including a shop and office with five rooms and an iron roof on lots 32 to 33

F W Gissing Ltd listed in Sands directory at 201 Wilson Street

14 October 1929
Mortgage to Bank of New South Wales

F W Gissing Ltd listed in the Sands directory at No 205-7 Wilson Street

10 March 1939
Following death of F W Gissing, ownership transferred to Sydney William Gissing and Henry Ernest Gissing

F W Gissing Pty Ltd listed as glass merchants, bevellers and silverers, sandblasters and shopfitters at 197 Wilson St

18 June 1943
Site purchased by Sydney William Gissing

19 May 1960
Both mortgages discharged

23 September 1960
Application by N V Appleton Pty Ltd for shop front, offices and storeroom at Number 197 Wilson Street worth £5,000

23 September 1960
Application by N V Appleton Pty Ltd to use building as a shop selling glass, mirrors, etc

28 July 1964
Application by Paul Legaert Pty Ltd to use building for manufacture of glass windows

23 December 1964
Site purchased by Paul Legaert Pty Ltd

1 September 1980
Application by Systematic Carpet Installations Pty Ltd to use building as carpet warehouse

21 November 1985
Application by M Udale to use building for storage and distribution of furniture

16 April 1987
Application by Paul Legaert Pty Ltd to erect seven strata title townhouses worth $450,000

27 May 1988
Application by Department of Housing to convert existing buildings into eight self-contained units

Conversion of the site into apartments with works valued at $1,498,898 by the Department of Housing and University of Sydney

Recommended management:

Retain and conserve the building. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. All conservation, adaptive reuse and future development should be undertaken in accordance with the Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance (The Burra Charter). Archival photographic recording, in accordance with Heritage Council guidelines, should be undertaken before major changes. Do not paint, render or coat face brick walls. Polychromatic face brickwork, textured rendered finishes, parapet wall profiles, timber framed windows and doors, original window openings at the rear and other early building features should be retained and conserved. There should be no vertical additions to the two decorative curved parapeted bays..


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney Local Environmental Plan 2012I225222 Jan 16   
Heritage studyCity of Sydney Industrial and Warehouse Buildings 01 Oct 14   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Sydney Industrial and Warehouse Buildings Heritage Study2014 City Plan Heritage  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
MapCity Engineers Department, City of Sydney Council1956City Building Surveyors Detail Sheets, sheet 19
PhotographCity of Sydney19491949 aerial survey of the city of Sydney, sheet 100
WrittenCity of Sydney Planning Street Cards
GraphicDecoration and Glass May- June 19471947One picture is worth more than a thousand words
WrittenDr Terry Kass2014Industrial and warehouse buildings research - site history
WrittenFrances Pollon1996The Book of Sydney Suburbs
WrittenJohn Sands1904Sands Sydney Directory 1858-1932/3
ElectronicPowerhouse Museum Australian Window Glass/Pilkington ACI/Viridian glass samples, 1930 - 1980
ElectronicPowerhouse Museum Tooth's KB Lager Pub Painting View detail
WrittenState Records, NSW Register of Firms, SRNSW 2/8535, No 9893
WrittenState Records, NSW NRS 12951 Company Packet 4687 FW Gissing Ltd
ElectronicStucco Student Cooperative A brief history View detail
WrittenSydney Morning Herald, 2 September 19521952Gissings know glass

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: 5062465

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