Sydenham Pit & Drainage Pumping Station No.001

  • Number
    4571743
  • Other name
    Sydenham Stormwater Basin, Drainage Pumping Station (DPS1)
  • Primary address

    196, Garden Street Marrickville, 2204. NSW
    LGA: Marrickville
    LGA region: Sydney
    DUAP region: Sydney South

  • Alternate Address

    197, Shirlow Street Marrickville, 2204. NSW
    LGA: Marrickville
    LGA code: MARR
    LGA region: Sydney
    DUAP region: Sydney South

  • Owner
    Sydney Water
  • Current use
    Stormwater pit and pumping station
  • Former use
  • Item type
    Built
  • Item group
    Utilities - Water
  • Item category
    Other - Utilities - Water
  • Parcels

    Parcel code: LOT
    Lot number: 1
    Section number:
    Plan code: DP
    Plan number: 186276
    Updated: 17 February 2003

    Parcel code: LOT
    Lot number: 1
    Section number:
    Plan code: DP
    Plan number: 1022910
    Updated: 17 February 2003

    Parcel code: LOT
    Lot number: 29,34,35,40,41,46
    Section number:
    Plan code: DP
    Plan number: 146
    Updated: 17 February 2003

  • Curtilage/Boundary
    The curtilage is defined by the boundary of Lots 29, 34, 35, 40, 41 and 46 of DP no.153, Lot 1 of DP no.186276 and Lot 1 of DP no.1022910, as shown on the curtilage plan.
  • Statement of significance
    The Sydenham Pit and Pumping Station is of historic, aesthetic and technical significance. Historically, it is the first such infrastructure built in the Sydney Water system and is an intact and major component of the Marrickville low level stormwater drainage infrastructure that was built in response to increasing urban expansion since the 1870s in an area prone to flooding. Its large scale and labour intensive construction method of excavating the pit reflects the abundance of labour during the Great Depression and the type of public works undertaken to provide relief work for the unemployed. Aesthetically, the use of pitched dry packed ashlar sandstone walls to line the sides of the pit provides a pleasantly textured and coloured finish to the pit. It is a major landmark and dramatic component of the industrial landscape of Sydenham, particularly as viewed from the railway. The pumping station is a very good example of a utilitarian building displaying inter-war Mediterranean style architectural details. Technically, the pumping plant contains good working examples of 1930s pumps, particularly three Metropolitan Vickers pumps, and its original electrical mains equipment has been preserved in situ during upgrading in c.1992.
  • Endorsed significance
    State
  • Designer
    New South Wales Public Works Department
  • Builder
    New South Wales Public Works Department
  • Year started
    1935
  • Year completed
    1941
  • Circa
    Yes
  • Physical description
    Sydenham Pit and Drainage Pumping Station consists of two distinct parts: the pit and pumping station (albeit they are integral in operation). The pit consists of a 9 metre deep basin with the sides formed into batters. The batters are faced with sandstone blocks laid horizontally in courses of about 300mm. The width of the blocks range from square to over 1 metre in length. The blocks are dressed on four sides with the face sparrow picked. Along the top of the stone facing wall, earth batters and an open concrete drain were formed. An access ramp to the base of the pit is located along the northern wall with entry from Railway Parade. The stone walls are penetrated by channel outlets in the southeast corner and in the centre of the western edge. The boundary of the site is planted with Oleanders. The pumping station is constructed of reinforced concrete and consists of a series of fins that rise 12 metres from the base of the pit to support the pump house that has its floor level about 1.8 metres above Railway Parade. Five concrete fins interspaced with four cylindrical concrete water shafts are incorporated, with the southern facade supported by three concrete piers joined by a horizontal cross-beam in the centre. The floor of the pumphouse overhangs the end concrete fin by about a metre and is supported by four concrete brackets. The pumphouse has the approximate internal dimensions of 7.2m wide x 17m long and 5.6m ceiling height. A switch room adjoins the eastern facade of the main pump room and has the approximate internal dimensions of 4.8m x 9m. The pumphouse has a tiled gable roof which continues down at the same pitch over the switch room. The southern and northern facades have three closely spaced vertical steel framed windows that form a square in the centre of the wall. The tops of the windows are overhung by a concrete lintel. Along the western facade of the pumphouse are five vertical windows centred on the void between the concrete fins. The building was designed in a version of the inter-war Mediterranean Domestic style.
  • Modifications made
    In 2015, extensive conservation works were made to the pumping station building, including removing the asbestos components, conservation of the steel framed windows and the interior was repainted. The toilet was removed.. Sections of the southern and western pit walls collapsed following heavy rains and were rebuilt in the 1950's. In 1968 a concrete floor and a silt pit were installed to the base of the pit.
  • History
    With the completion of the Illawarra Railway beyond Sydenham in the 1880's, the urbanisation of the Marrickville Valley increased rapidly. It was soon found that the valley had significant drainage problems, which were partly solved by the construction of a stormwater pumping station in Carrington Road, Marrickville in 1897 (now known as Marrickville Sewage and Stormwater Pumping Station - SP0271) and three main stormwater channels, comprising the eastern, western and central channels. In the 1930's the Government decided to improve the drainage system, which included an allocation of unemployment relief funds for drainage works in the Marrickville municipality. The scheme included the drainage of the northern section of the low level area north of Marrickville Road, comprising the excavation of a storage pit, the erection of a pumping station with a rising main discharging into the eastern channel and the construction of a system of channels discharging into the pit. The pit and pumping station were constructed by the Public Works Department in the late 1930's and transferred to the Metropolitan Water Sewerage & Drainage Board in 1941. Sydenham Pit is situated on the Cooks River floodplain. The Cooks River begins in Bankstown and travels 23km where it enters Botany Bay. The total area of the catchment is 98 square kilometres (DLWC,2003). Many swamps, both freshwater and estuarine, once surrounded the site. Offering no value to early European settlers, these swamps, including the Gumbramorra Swamp, were drained and filled to make way for agricultural and other uses (Benson et al.1999:26). The first known human occupants of the Marrickville area were the Cadigal Aboriginal Clan who are thought to have occupied the area for more than 40,000 years (Marrickville Council, 2003). Other clans in the area included the Wangal, Kameygal and Bediagal. These Clans belonged to the same linguistic tribe, the Darug People. Evidence from early Europeans indicate that the Gumbramorra Swamp, located in Marrickville, was a meeting place of the Aboriginal people (Benson et al. 2000). The Gumbramorra Swamp (between Marrickville and Sydenham) would have occupied the area that is now covered by Sydenham Rd and would have been in close proximity to the current location of Sydenham Pit. In 1788 the swamp would have contained fresh and brackish water and may have been an attraction for terrestrial animals. The roots of reeds and rushes that grew in the swamp may have provided a food source and the leaves provided fibre for weaving. Aboriginal people may have lived on the fringes of the swamp close to freshwater locations. Very little physical evidence remains of Aboriginal occupation, but this evidence suggests at least 7,000 years of Aboriginal occupation along the Cooks River. At this time the most recent glacial period was coming to an end and as the ice melted, sea level rose and flooded evidence of earlier Aboriginal occupation (Total Environment Centre, 2003).
  • National
    Economy
  • State
    Technology
  • Local
    (none)
  • National
    Economy
  • State
    Health
  • Local
    Water Supply
  • National
    Settlement
  • State
    Utilities
  • Local
    Drainage
  • Local description
    Relates to the planning, development, expansion and provision of drainage and stormwater services.
  • a) Historical
    Sydenham Pit and Drainage Pumping Station is of historical significance, being the first such infrastructure in the Sydney Water system and an intact element and major component of the Marrickville low level stormwater infrastucture that was built in response to increasing urban expansion since the 1870s in an area prone to flooding. Its construction, comprising large scale labour intensive methods, reflects the type of public works undertaken to provide depression relief work during the 1930s.
  • b) Association
    Sydenham Pit is not associated with significant persons in Sydney Water history, however, the asset is associated with an important event in Sydney Water history; stormwater. Originally, Sydney had a dual sewage and drainage system. In dry weather the system performed adequately, however, in periods of heavy rainfall, the pipes lacked the capacity to convey both stormwater and sewage, resulting in overflows and a risk to human health. In 1924, the Sydney Water Board was made sole authority for stormwater construction. During the Great Depression, the Public Works Department was awarded responsibility for the metropolitan stormwater scheme for the specific purpose of providing labour intensive work programs. The assets were subsequently transferred back to Sydney Water.
  • c) Aesthetic
    The pumping station is a very good example of a utilitarian building designed in the Inter War Mediterranean Revival style, exploiting the use of architectural details associated with the style, including a tiled gable roof, tiled barge and pronounced lintels. The use of pitched ashlar sandstone walls to line the sides provides a pleasantly textured and coloured finish to the pit. Efforts were made to ‘beautify’ the works and make the pit more aesthetically pleasing. The Oleander plantings have been arranged in alternating colours; white, pink and magenta. Sydenham Pit is a major landmark in the Marrickville industrial landscape. It is highly visible to commuters travelling on the Illawarra Railway line. The size of the pit and the bold vertical lines of the Drainage Pumping Station are emphasised against the industrial backdrop. The item satisfies the guidelines and is aesthetically pleasing and has landmark qualities.
  • d) Social
    Sydenham Pit is associated with the Great Depression and the Government’s Unemployment Relief Works Schemes. The greatest expansion of the drainage network occurred during these Depression years as a result of the Unemployment Relief Schemes. Sydenham Pit is a good example of the large-scale labour intensive works undertaken as relief work during the period of the Depression during the 1930’s. Sydenham Pit is valued by special interest groups such as the National Trust and the Institution of Engineers (NSW). The site has featured in commercials and films, achieving a public consciousness for the site. The publicly accessible view of the Sydenham Pit is from the railway line, which enables a good view of the Drainage Basin, and a more limited view of the Pump House. Additionally this access has given rise to graffiti which has negatively impacted the aesthetic values of the Pump House. The Sydenham Pit is evocative of the industrial past of the inner city of Sydney.
  • e) Research
    The pumping plant contains good working examples of 1930s pumps. The three Metropolitan Vickers (Vickers Electrical Co. Manchester and Sheffield, England) pumps in particular are considered rare in the region. It maintains insitu evidence of the original electrical mains and switchboard. The item satisfies the guidelines and is an important benchmark or reference site.
  • f) Rarity
    Sydenham Pit is one of only two stone-lined water storage basins owned by Sydney Water. Whilst Sydenham Pit is on a much smaller scale than the other stone-lined pit, Potts Hill Reservoir No. 1, it is the only stone-lined pit built to hold stormwater. It is also the only such stone-lined pit carried out under the Unemployment Relief Works during the 1930’s depression years. The Drainage Pumping Station contains three working examples of Metropolitan Vickers pumps, which are considered rare in the region. These pumps were installed in the late 1930’s and are still operational. The Sydenham Pit and Drainage Pumping Station 1 is one of only two such installations in the Sydney Water system and is one of the largest and most visible examples of a stormwater retention facility in Sydney. The item satisfies the guidelines and is the only example of its type and demonstrates designs or techniques of exceptional interest.
  • g) Representative
    Sydenham Pit is rare in that it is one of only two stone-lined water reservoirs in the Sydney region. Of these, it is the only stone-lined basin purpose built to function as a stormwater detention facility. The Drainage Pumping Station contains three working examples of Metropolitan Vicker’s pumps, which are considered rare in the region. The Drainage Pumping Station was the first of its type in the Sydney Region and is a highly visible example of its type. The Drainage Pumping Station is a good example of the inter-war Mediterranean Revival style public utility building. The building exploits the architectural styles associated with the type of building with its tiled gable roof, tiled barge and pronounced lintels.
  • List name
    Local Environmental Plan
  • Name
    Marrickville LEP 2001
  • Gazette number
    86
  • Date listing listed
    01 January 2001
  • List name
    Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register
  • Date listing listed
    01 January 2000
  • List name
    Heritage Act - State Heritage Register
  • Name
    State Heritage Register
  • Reference number
    01644
  • Gazette number
    220
  • Gazette page
    9709
  • Date listing listed
    15 November 2002
  • Title
    Sydenham Pit & Drainage Pumping Station No. 1 Conservation Management Plan
  • Author
    Sydney Water
  • Published
    2004
  • Item reference number in study
  • Sydenham Pit and Drainage Pumping Station No.1 in 1948.
    Sydenham Pit and Drainage Pumping Station No.1 in 1948.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 January 2048
  • Pump House as constructed,1943.
    Pump House as constructed,1943.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 January 2043
  • View of stone embankment and oleanders.
    View of stone embankment and oleanders.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 January 2004
  • Stone Pitched Side Walls and Overlooking Inlet to Drainage Pit.
    Stone Pitched Side Walls and Overlooking Inlet to Drainage Pit.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 01 January 2004
  • Stormwater Storage Pit and Pumping Station - View of pit with pump house in background.
    Stormwater Storage Pit and Pumping Station - View of pit with pump house in background.
    Created by: James Stephany
    Creation date: 22 May 2000
  • Stormwater Storage Pit and Pumping Station - View of pump house.
    Stormwater Storage Pit and Pumping Station - View of pump house.
    Created by: James Stephany
    Creation date: 22 May 2000
  • The physical curtilage plan for Sydenham Pit and Drainage Pumping Station 1.
    The physical curtilage plan for Sydenham Pit and Drainage Pumping Station 1.
    Created by: Sydney Water
    Creation date: 13 July 2006
  • Data entry status
    Completed
  • Entered
    08 May 2000
  • Updated
    18 June 2018