Alexandra Canal No. 89AZ

  • Number
    4571712
  • Other name
    Sheas Creek
  • Primary address

    378, Adjacent to Burrows Road Alexandria, St. Peters, Mascot, Tempe, . NSW
    LGA: Sydney City
    LGA region: Sydney
    DUAP region: Sydney South

  • Alternate Address

    379, Adjacent to Burrows Road Alexandria, St. Peters, Mascot, Tempe, . NSW
    LGA: Marrickville
    LGA code: MARR
    LGA region: Sydney
    DUAP region: Sydney South

  • Alternate Address

    380, Adjacent to Burrows Road Alexandria, St. Peters, Mascot, Tempe, . NSW
    LGA: Botany
    LGA code: BOTA
    LGA region: Sydney
    DUAP region: Sydney South

  • Owner
    Sydney Water
  • Current use
    Stormwater channel
  • Former use
    Navigational canal
  • Item type
    Built
  • Item group
    Transport - Water
  • Item category
    Canal
  • Parcels

    Parcel code: LOT
    Lot number: 13
    Section number:
    Plan code: DP
    Plan number: 1050464
    Updated: 15 March 2013

  • Curtilage/Boundary
    The curtilage extends from the former course of Shea's Creek in south-eastern Sydney to the north-west at the intersection with the Cooks River, terminating 200 metres south of Huntley Street in Alexandria, as shown on the curtilage plan. The curtilage includes the Canal stone walls, the Canal and 3 metres above the Canal. Heritage impacts should be considered for any new construction within 10 metres of the Canal.
  • Statement of significance
    Alexandra Canal is of high historic, aesthetic and technical/research significance. It is one of only two navigable canals built in NSW and is characterised by its controlled route, defined edges and sandstone embankment walls. The Alexandra Canal route has been influential in determining the planning of the district including street layout and the positioning of industrial buildings along its route. The Canal is also associated with Shea’s Creek Wool Sheds and bridges that cross it which provide a layering of images of an unusual industrial urban landscape. Historically, it is a rare example of 19th century navigational canal construction in Australia, being one of only two purpose built canals in the state. It has the ability to demonstrate the NSW Government's initiative to create water transport as a means of developing an industrial complex in the Alexandria and Botany areas and exploiting the use of unemployed labour to achieve its scheme. It played a seminal role in the changing pattern and evolution of the occupation and industrial uses of the local area and nearby suburbs, which included filling large areas of low lying land for development. Aesthetically, intact original sections of the canal, comprising pitched dry packed ashlar sandstone, provides a textured and coloured finish which is aesthetically valuable in the cultural landscape. It is a major landmark and dramatic component of the industrial landscape of the area, particularly as viewed from the Ricketty Street Bridge and along Airport Drive. Scientifically, the excavation of the canal provided a valuable contribution to the understanding of the changing sea-levels along the eastern seaboard and the antiquity of the aboriginal presence in the area. Intact original sections of the fascine dyke sandstone construction are rare examples of late 19th century coastal engineering works.
  • Endorsed significance
    State
  • Designer
    New South Wales Department of Public Works
  • Builder
    New South Wales Department of Public Works
  • Year started
    1887
  • Year completed
    1899
  • Circa
    No
  • Physical description
    Alexandra Canal is an adapted artificial waterway (formally known as Sheas Creek) which stretches 4.5 km from its southern point at Cooks River to the north near Huntley Street, Alexandria. Its banks are formed by pitching, comprising sloping dry sandstone capped with a sandstone coping. It extends from approximately 0.5 metres below low water mark to approximately 1.5 metres above high water mark. It is spanned by 4 bridges: Shell Pipeline Bridge, Sydenham to Botany Railway line, Canal Road Bridge and a small footbridge. The upper reaches of the canal are quite intact, with some localised failures of sandstone ashlar masonry. Lower reaches have been rebuilt in a variety of 20th century materials including concrete block, shotcrete over rubble and fabricon and range from good to poor condition. The south-western walling of the canal beyond the Shell Bridge is rendered rubble walling. The south-eastern face is rendered rubble walling almost to the railway bridge. These alterations to original fabric reflect alterations to the course of the canal near its junction with the Cooks River during the three phases of airport expansion.
  • Modifications made
    The south-western walling of the canal beyond the Shell Bridge is rendered rubble walling. The south-eastern face is rendered rubble walling almost to the railway bridge. These alterations to original fabric reflect alterations to the course of the canal near its junction with the Cooks River during the three phases of airport expansion. 2016 - section on the southern bank near the Cooks River was rebuilt, with gaps in the new stonework for ecological and environmental purposes.
  • History
    Sheas Creek is a tributary of the Cooks River which begins in the once sandy hills of the present Surry Hills east of Redfern. Dredging commenced in 1887 to adapt Sheas Creek to a canal with the intention of creating manufacturing and industrial opportunities in the area by offering shipping as a means of transporting cargo. The canal was intended to be the ''Birmingham of Australia'' and was constructed under an unemployed work relief scheme. The canal was originally lined with a fascine dyke as were sections of the Cooks River. The original canal started to the south-west of the existing Sydenham to Botany Railway Bridge and extended to the Canal Road Bridge. In 1894 the canal was to be extended to Buckland Street, Redfern. Only part of this section was ever constructed, and the limit of the canal is to the south of Huntley Street, Alexandria. During this period scientists were called in to record the finding of dugong bones displaying butchery marks, and stone axes. As sections of the canal were completed, wharves were constructed along the canal to encourage its use. The canal, as originally planned, was substantially completed in 1900. Major changes to the canal occurred when the airport was expanded over three phases from 1947 to 1970. These changes included altering the course of the canal near its junction with the Cooks River. The canal was never considered a success, its use limited by the shallow draught of the vessels that could use it, constant silting, tidal factors and the advent of commercial road transport in the 1930s. By the early 1940s the navigational use of the canal declined to such an extent that is was decided not to maintain the wharves and they were demolished.
  • National
    Peopling
  • State
    Aboriginal cultures and interactions with other cultures
  • Local
    (none)
  • National
    Economy
  • State
    Transport
  • Local
    (none)
  • National
    Settlement
  • State
    Utilities
  • Local
    Drainage
  • Local description
    Relates to the planning, development, expansion and provision of drainage and stormwater services.
  • a) Historical
    Alexandra Canal was built during the 1890s depression using unemployed labour. It is one of two navigational canals built in NSW and is the only canal built to provide access for water transport for the delivery of cargo in NSW. The canal, the warehouses and factories around it, the bridges that cross it and the remains of the wharves are evidence of attempts by the Government to encourage development in the area.
  • b) Association
    The Canal has a strong historic link with the development of industries in the South Sydney/ Botany Bay arae of Sydney. The Alexandra Canal was built to service industry located along Shea's Creek as a result of the Slaughter House Act of 1848, that required all noxious trades to be operated more than one mile from the city area. Today the entire area is still well defined by this precedence. The association of these with watercourses and the pollution of them is an issue which is current today. The Canal was built by unemployed labour to help provide relief work during the 1890s and so is a direct result of Government work programmes of a nature that would be repeated during the 1930s Depression. The Canal is associated with an ambitious plan to transport coal, blue metal and building materials more cheaply than by rail, and also to act as a sewerage outfall to provide drainage for the surrounding areas. The land on which the Canal has been constructed is associated with Chinese Market Gardeners. The Canal is asociated with Shea's Creek Wool Sheds, located at the northern end of the Canal. The construction of the Canal was one of a number of grand ideas for Canal construction in and around the Cooks River and Botany Bay. These ideas were clearly influenced by overseas activities and experiences in English and Indian Canal construction.
  • c) Aesthetic
    The Alexandra Canal is characterised by its controlled route, defined edges, stone embankment walls and its identification as a canal. The Canal route has determined the planning of the district, including street layout and the positioning of industrial buildings along its route. The Sydenham to Botany Railway Bridge over the canal had the first lifting span used in a railway bridge in Australia. Sections of the canal exhibit relatively intact sections of ashlar stonework which are excellent examples of late 19th century coastal engineering works that provide a pleasantly textured and coloured finish to the canal. The canal is a major visual landmark in the area and has a strong landmark appeal, particularly as viewed from the Ricketty Street Bridge.
  • d) Social
    The Alexandra Canal is a major part of the physical environment of the Alexandria and Mascot region. The area around the Alexandra Canal is described as having a strategic location in relation to the city, the Airport and Port Botany. The area has seen significant redevelopment as a light industrial premises have been replaced by warehousing with a higher proportion of office area. The airport has contributed to the changing face of the region and the Canal as well as having generated the need for airport support functions. The new rail link to the Airport has created the potential for new urban centres around Green Square and Mascot Stations.
  • e) Research
    The canal bed may contain examples of extinct flora and fauna species. The discovery of the butchered Dugong, aboriginal axes and the remains of an ancient forest in this area that were uncovered during construction have revealed both a species and food source of Aboriginal occupation in the Botany Basin and a scientific understanding to the changing sea levels along the area. The Canal was built for navigational purposes, and this feature is important in understanding its history, design and function. The Canal has been formed from a natural water course (Sheas Creek) which is still active as a drainage system and provides for an estuine environment.
  • f) Rarity
    Alexandra Canal is one of two extant navigational canals in NSW and one of the few built in Australia in the 19th and 20th century. It was the only purpose built canal constructed to provide navigational access in industrial areas in NSW.
  • g) Representative
    Alexandra Canal is a representative example of a late 19th century coastal navigational canal.
  • List name
    Local Environmental Plan
  • Name
    Botany LEP 1995
  • Reference number
    Item 1 Sandstone embankment Alexandra Canal Mascot
  • Date listing listed
    01 January 1995
  • List name
    Local Environmental Plan
  • Name
    Marrickville LEP 2011 Schedule 5
  • Reference number
    I270
  • List name
    Local Environmental Plan
  • Name
    South Sydney LEP 1998
  • Reference number
    180 - Inventory # 6.15
  • Gazette number
    71
  • Date listing listed
    01 January 1998
  • List name
    Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register
  • Name
    Sydney Water Heritage Register
  • Date listing listed
    30 June 2002
  • List name
    Heritage Act - State Heritage Register
  • Name
    State Heritage Register
  • Reference number
    01621
  • Gazette number
    220
  • Gazette page
    9709
  • Date listing listed
    15 November 2002
  • Title
    The Water Supply Sewerage and Drainage of Sydney
  • Author
    Aird, W. V.
  • Published
    1961
  • Title
    Sydney Water Heritage Study
  • Author
    Graham Brooks and Associates Pty Ltd
  • Published
    1996
  • Item reference number in study
  • Title
    Alexandra Canal Conservation Management Plan
  • Author
    NSW Department of Commenrce, Heritage Design Services
  • Published
    2004
  • Item reference number in study
  • Alexandra Canal
    Alexandra Canal
    Created by: Phil Bennett
    Creation date: 20 April 2017
  • Alexandra Canal - View to eastern side of canal from Marsh Street Bridge.
    Alexandra Canal - View to eastern side of canal from Marsh Street Bridge.
    Created by: James Stephany
    Creation date: 30 May 2000
  • Alexandra Canal - View south towards Marsh Street Bridge from western side of canal.
    Alexandra Canal - View south towards Marsh Street Bridge from western side of canal.
    Created by: James Stephany
    Creation date: 30 May 2000
  • Alexandra Canal - View from western side of canal looking south towards the Ricketty Street Bridge.
    Alexandra Canal - View from western side of canal looking south towards the Ricketty Street Bridge.
    Created by: James Stephany
    Creation date: 30 May 2000
  • Alexandra Canal - View south from Ricketty Street Bridge.
    Alexandra Canal - View south from Ricketty Street Bridge.
    Created by: James Stephany
    Creation date: 30 May 2000
  • The physical curtilage plan for Alexandra Canal.
    The physical curtilage plan for Alexandra Canal.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 27 June 2006
  • Data entry status
    Completed
  • Entered
    12 August 2000
  • Updated
    20 April 2017