Crown Street Reservoir (Covered) (WS 0034) and Site

  • Number
    4575728
  • Other name
    (WS 0034)
  • Primary address

    277, Crown Street Surry Hills, 2010. NSW
    LGA: Sydney City
    LGA region: Sydney
    DUAP region: Sydney South

  • Alternate Address

    278, Reservoir Street (enter from Riley Street) Surry Hills, 2010. NSW
    LGA: Sydney City
    LGA code: SYDN
    LGA region: Sydney
    DUAP region: Sydney South

  • Owner
    Sydney Water
  • Current use
    Reservoir.
  • Former use
    Reservoir.
  • Item type
    Built
  • Item group
    Utilities - Water
  • Item category
    Water Supply Reservoir/ Dam
  • Parcels

    Parcel code: LOT
    Lot number: 1
    Section number:
    Plan code: DP
    Plan number: 1106583
    Updated: 27 August 2010

  • Curtilage/Boundary
    The curtilage is defined by Lot 1 of DP no.1106583, as shown on the curtilage plan.
  • AMG easting
    334838670
  • AMG northing
    6249585233
  • Statement of significance
    The Crown Street Reservoir and Site comprise the first fully built reservoir structure in Australia. When completed, it had a capacity sufficient to provide reticulated water to about 85% of the Sydney population and was a major component of the third water supply source for Sydney. The Crown Street Reservoir is the oldest water supply reservoir still in use in Australia, continuously operating since 1859, and was built to a unique design, and these qualities emphasize other aspects of its significance. The Reservoir is representative of the first class of Australian water reservoirs, which featured underground, covered brick-built structures, created on a rectangular plan. The Crown Street Reservoir was designed by the prominent late-19th century City Engineer, Edward Bell, with a certain influence of his predecessor, W B Rider. In terms of technological significance (including functionality, capacity, and structural details), it is the most important representative of this group ever built in NSW and probably Australia. The Reservoir structure demonstrates the advanced technological practices and high level of quality of design and work practices of the civil engineering infrastructure and craftwork of the mid-nineteenth century. The unique structural features include brick walls, arches and ''uniform strength'' cast iron girders. The Crown Street Reservoir remains a significant element within the Sydney Water’s water supply system. The Reservoir features rare examples of mid nineteenth century technologies in the brick jack-arch and cast-iron beam roof supported in part by hardwood columns. The completion of the reservoir marked a major technological landmark not only in the history of the delivery of reticulated water to the city of Sydney, but also in the history of civil services in NSW and Australia. The site has unique associations with the early development of Sydney Council and Sydney Water Corporation as a major item of water supply infrastructure developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Crown Street elevation of the site is recognised on the local area level through inclusion in the Heritage Streetscape by South Sydney Council. Important parts of the 1889 Workshop building survive on the site. The water pumping function continues through the extant, third water pumping station on the site, built in 1965. The development of the site through the 1960s included the creation of the administration building (1962).
  • Endorsed significance
    State
  • Circa
    No
  • Physical description
    The reservoir structure is located in the north-west portion of the site. The underground tank is built of brick, and stretches in a north-south direction. The floor is partly cut in bedrock and covered with bitumen, and partly built in brick. The reservoir is about 62.5m long and about 55m wide, with an internal height of 7m and an available storage depth of 4m. The overall capacity of the reservoir is approximately 15 Megalitres. The roof and upper sections of walls are visible above the ground. Internally, the tank features a 4m high dividing wall, stretching in an east-west direction and breaking up the tank space in two chambers. Each of the two chambers is further subdivided in half with a lower masonry wall, 1.5m high, laid in the same direction. This arrangement allows half of the reservoir to be emptied for maintenance, without completely disrupting the water supply. The reservoir roof consists of a series of brick ‘jack’ arches approximately 2.4m in span, supported by c. 365mm high cast-iron girders. The spanning arches, laid in the north-south direction (longitude), are wider in section in the middle, providing additional support where the load is greatest. The roof is sealed by a layer of concrete and a waterproof membrane, above which is a layer of grassed soil. The roof slopes mildly from the centre with a fall of about 3 degrees. The roof is supported by columns, originally 176 in number, a minority of which have survived in their original or early hardwood form, while the majority were replaced with modern reinforced concrete elements. An internal mild-steel railing fence encloses the reservoir roof area and separates it from the rest of the site. A series of square maintenance access hatches/light shafts/access chambers, created on a concrete base plate with steel chamber and lid, installed c. 1903, survive across the reservoir.
  • Modifications made
    It has received regular maintenance and repair over the years. A large single storey garage structure, covering about an eighth of the roof of the reservoir was located in the north-east portion of the roof, the garage floor and ramps survive today. The reservoir originally featured three tall, rendered brick ventilation shafts, built on a square plan c. 1859. Today, only one of these shafts survives, located near the centre of the reservoir area, and capped with a modern steel cowl. In 2008, the site was subdivided. The reservoir, water pumping station (WP0001) and access ways were retained by Sydney Water. The former workshops and 1962 office building were sold and redeveloped. Workshops adapted into a café / bar. Office building adapted to retail outlets. The State heritage listing remains over the entire site.
  • History
    The Crown Street Reservoir site was purchased by the City Council from the Riley Estate under the ownership of Mrs M. A. Burdekin in 1856, when much of the surrounding area was vacant land. The site comprised an area of approximately two acres situated between Crown, Riley, Reservoir (then Gipps) and Campbell Streets and appears to have been undeveloped prior to its acquisition for the construction of the Reservoir. The negotiations for compensation for the resumption of the site proved protracted and continued through to 1858, well after construction of the reservoir had commenced. The boundary of the site remains intact until today, with the exception of the one perch (about 25 m2) of land resumed from the corner of Campbell and Crown Streets for road widening in 1917. The consequence of this resumption is the curved site corner, reflected in the façade of the 1960s administration building. The Reservoir was built over the years significantly affected by the Gold Rush, when a substantial part of the workforce left Sydney to try their luck on the gold fields. Because of this, the number of skilled workers and craftsmen available plummeted, which, in turn, led to inflation of wages. This occurred to such extent that the estimations for the construction of the reservoir were revised in 1858 ‘in consequence of the rise of wages from such a number of people leaving Sydney’. This migration however did not significantly affect the water consumption level, which remained high. The Reservoir structure was constructed from mid 1857, with tenders for the excavation of the site and construction of the reservoir called between December 1857 and March 1858. The contract for the excavation work went to John Tighe, and was completed by October 1858 for the price of £3,895. The spoil (which included 4,000 cubic yards of solid rock) was used to regrade surrounding streets. The reservoir was built in brick, with the floor partly cut in bedrock and covered in bitumen, and partly brick. Some 300,000 waterproof bricks imported from England were used for the lining (including both walls and floor). The contract for the construction of the masonry and brickwork structure inclusive of the brick arches of the reservoir was let in November 1858 to Donohoe and Vaughan for £14,929. The jack-arch roof was laid on the cast-iron roof beams and timber columns, with column capitals imported from England by Rabone Feez & Co. The arched cast-iron cross-stays followed the shape of the brick jack arches. The water valves were produced by a Sydney company, P.N. Russell and Co. The reservoir was fed through the 30-inch pipe, imported by P. N. Russell, from the Botany Swamps directly to Bathurst Street, then along Crown Street. The contract for the tar-sealing of the roof and covering in clay puddle and earth was let in August 1858. The puddling over the roof, and the laying of soil and sowing of grass was not undertaken until early 1860, although the reservoir was completed and in service by December 1859. In the original arrangement, the reservoir featured three tall, rendered brick ventilation shafts, built on a square plan around 1859.
  • National
    Settlement
  • State
    Utilities
  • Local
    Water Supply
  • Local description
    Relates to the planning, development, expansion and provision of water supply.
  • a) Historical
    Crown Street Reservoir (WS 34) is the oldest reservoir in NSW, still in service. It has had a pivotal role, not only in the Botany Swamps Scheme (1858-1886) but also in the Hudson/Upper Nepean Scheme (1886/1888 onwards), and now receives water from Warragamba Dam. It continues to supply water to the Inner City, a role it has played since 1859. This reservoir is associated with a water supply source, prior to the completion of the Upper Nepean Scheme and the formation of the Metropolitan Water Sewerage & Drainage Board in 1888. It operated in parallel with Busby's Bore from 1859 to 1888.
  • b) Association
    The Crown Street Reservoir was developed by Sydney City Council in the 1850s and represents a major piece of infrastructure development by the Council. The site was the Council’s main works depot for the construction and maintenance of the town’s reticulated water and sewerage system from c.1880. The Crown Street Reservoir and Site have considerable historical associations with the development of Sydney Water, being the location of its central workshops and store depot (c.1890-1930s), its main materials testing laboratory (c.1940-1949, and 1962-1984), the photographic services section (1962-1991), and the meter and tap testing branch (c.1890-early 1990s) where all consumer-type taps, meters, and sanitary fittings used in Sydney were tested. The site was a place of employment for a considerable number of past generations of Sydney Water staff. The Crown Street Reservoir Site is associated with the second major steam driven water pumping station (completed between 1876 and 1879, demolished c. 1958) erected in Sydney. The Crown Street Reservoir Site is associated with the third major steam driven water pumping station (completed in 1889, demolished in 1962) erected in Sydney.
  • c) Aesthetic
    The reservoir structure features high aesthetic qualitites, demonstrative of construction techniques and high level technical expertise available for covered reservoir construction in Australia in the 1850s, including cast-iron beams imported from England. The creation of the reservoir with capacity to serve about 85% of the then Sydney population was a major technical achievement at the time of completion. The imported cast-iron beams used in the Reservoir roof construction were structurally tested to prove their load strength prior to installation, which is an early example of the application of scientific materials testing in NSW. The beams were technically described as ‘uniform load’. The Crown Street Reservoir Site was an integral part of the Botany Swamps Scheme, which effectively marked the commencement of city water supply pumping. The Crown Street site contains a brick, stone and iron-railing wall that provides a pleasing foreground to the reservoir and adjoining areas. The construction of this wall is of a very high quality that evokes its nineteenth century date of construction.
  • d) Social
    The Crown Street Reservoir and Site were always used as a water storage facility, enriched with associated activities. They do not have a special association with a particular community or cultural group in NSW for social, cultural or spiritual reasons. While the reservoir had a significant positive impact on the surrounding community when commissioned in the 1850s, the provision of water services is now commonplace and the strong initial association with the local community has been lost.
  • e) Research
    The Crown Street Reservoir is an early example of a mid 19th century fire-proof jack-arch roof construction in NSW. It is the only remaining reservoir in the Sydney Water system featuring wooden columns. The reservoir was built in special impervious bricks imported from England. The Crown Street Reservoir site possibly contains remnant sections of the 30-inch Botany Swamps rising main, manufactured in Scotland in the 1850s.
  • f) Rarity
    The Crown Street Reservoir is one of only two underground reservoirs ever built in NSW utilising hardwood columns to support the roof. One of a small group of covered reservoirs, each demonstrating differences in construction, design and architectural detailing. It is the earliest reservoir still in use, and one of four associated with Botany Swamps Supply. The Crown Street Reservoir Site contains artefacts from past uses and installations that, by their contextual association, contribute to an understanding of the site’s development. These artefacts include: − Remnant valves and delivery and intake pipes from the late nineteenth century. − Possibly remnant sections of the original Scottish manufactured c.1858 30-inch rising main from the Botany Swamps.
  • g) Representative
    Crown Street Reservoir is representative of the oldest class of fully built water reservoirs in NSW and Australia, identifiable by their brick structure and brick arched roof. It is the oldest, the longest serving and probably the most important of this group. The Crown Street Reservoir site contains a 1965 water pumping station representative of design and equipment of other major water pumping stations on Sydney in the 1960s.
  • List name
    Local Environmental Plan
  • Name
    South Sydney LEP 1998
  • Reference number
    935 - Inventory # 2.89
  • 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
    National Trust of Australia register
  • Date listing listed
    01 January 2000
  • List name
    Heritage Act - State Heritage Register
  • Date listing listed
    18 November 1999
  • Title
    Review of concept design for the Crown Street Reservoir.
  • Author
    Low & Hooke
  • Published
    1992
  • Title
    Crown Street Reservoir and Site Conservation Management Plan
  • Author
    Sydney Water
  • Published
    2004
  • Item reference number in study
  • Crown Street Reservoir Site, illustrating subdivision and area (hatched) retained by Sydney Water.
    Crown Street Reservoir Site, illustrating subdivision and area (hatched) retained by Sydney Water.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 January 2008
  • Historic fence and 1960''s access to valve chamber.
    Historic fence and 1960''s access to valve chamber.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 October 2009
  • View over roof of reservoir to new cafe.
    View over roof of reservoir to new cafe.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 October 2009
  • Interior of reservoir showing timber columns.
    Interior of reservoir showing timber columns.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 October 2009
  • View of interior of reservoir from access platform.
    View of interior of reservoir from access platform.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 October 2009
  • Interior of reservoir showing timber columns.
    Interior of reservoir showing timber columns.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 October 2009
  • Interior of reservoir showing timber columns.
    Interior of reservoir showing timber columns.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 October 2009
  • The physical curtilage plan for Crown Street Reservoir (Covered)(WS0034).
    The physical curtilage plan for Crown Street Reservoir (Covered)(WS0034).
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 29 June 2006
  • Data entry status
    Completed
  • Entered
    18 December 2000
  • Updated
    02 November 2016