The Rocks Police Station
Statement of SignificanceThe Rocks Police Station and site are of heritage significance for their historical and scientific cultural values. The site and building are also of heritage significance for their contribution to The Rocks area which is of State Heritage significance in its own right (see item no. 4500458).The building is located on the former government dockyard site which has been in continuous occupation and usage by government since the 1790s. The archaeological resources of the site (both those identified to date and potential archaeological remains) have been identified as of national significance.The siting of the former Department of Labour and Industry building so close to the wharves reflects the relationship between labour and the wharves, and later as the arrival point for immigrant labour. The building's dual function as an Emigration Bureau and Central Labour Exchange reflects the connection between these two aspects of the work of the Department of Labour and Industry in the 1920s when migration was an important means of supplying the necessary labour force to develop Australia. This is of state and regional historical significance.The prominent siting of the building at 132 George Street on the corner of Argyle and George Streets makes it a local landmark. 132 George Street defines the George and Argyle Streets intersection, and the building makes a positive contribution to the streetscape at this point by containing and defining vistas. The building is a good example of the Inter-War Stripped Classical /Georgian Revival style with strong architectural detail in liver brick, render and sandstone. It is a representative but not exceptional example of its period.132 George Street is one of the very few remaining buildings from the 1920s period in The Rocks area.(SHFA,2000 and 'Design 5', 1999: 65)Archaeology - Significant below ground archaeological resource.
The Rocks Police Station
Government Building (office use)
Government and Administration
Construction Years: 1923 - 1924
Physical Description: 132 George Street is a freestanding four-storey masonry building at the corner of George and Argyle Streets. There are two entrances into the building, with the George Street central entrance at a half-level between the basement and ground levels, and another entrance off Argyle Street at the basement level towards the north-east corner.The building is of liver-coloured face brick with rendered string courses, lintels, sills and projecting cornice. The basement level which shows as a half-level/plinth to George Street is of rock-faced coursed sandstone. Windows are of timber as are the doors. The east elevation is of painted brick with no decoration and shows toothed brickwork for an extension (never executed) at its north and south edges. The south elevation is also painted brick but has rendered sills and lintels.132 George Street is on the site of the original government dockyards. which were established in 1796 and which had closed by the 1850s. Directly opposite to the west is the former ASN & Co. Hotel building and diagonally opposite to the north-west is the Orient Hotel. 132 George Street is bounded on the north by Argyle Street, and to the north of this part of Argyle Street are Cadman's Cottage Park, Cadman's Cottage and the former Sailor's Home. On the east is a carpark, beyond which are unbroken views to Sydney Cove and East Circular Quay. To the south is the Museum of Contemporary Art, formerly the Maritime Services Board building. Between the two buildings are open space and low service buildings. The scale and character of George Street North on the western and eastern sides are quite different. On the western side are rows of two-to-three storey mostly nineteenth century buildings, which together form a 'closed' wall of medium scale buildings. The eastern side is more open and broken up as pockets of green open spaces, punctuated by several freestanding buildings, with views to Sydney Cove. There is a sunken feel to the eastern side as the site slopes down from west to east towards the water. Tree plantings are concentrated on the eastern side of George Street North. Internally, each floor plate is one space with the masonry stair volume centred on the west wall. Columns support floors above and much of the space is subdivided by partition walls kept clear of the ceiling. These partitions are all very recent.Located on a prominent corner site, sloping west to east, this building is an example of the Inter-War Georgian Revival style. It is a four storey building, with access provided at both George & Argyle Streets. The parapet wall construction is of liver brick, laid English bond, with prominent cement rendered lintels and sills. The west and north elevations retain the exposed brick aesthetic, whilst the elevations of the east and should have a paint finish; this painting was part of the 1993-94 refurbishment work. The north-west corner of the building is characterised by a truncated chamfer. Streetscape on the western side of George Street at this point is very significant. Streetscape on the eastern side has quite a different character south of the former Sailor's Home, being broken up by the set-back and sunken position of Cadman's Cottage, First Fleet Park, and views of Circular Quay. The subject building, standing alone, is the only building in the vicinity to define the street alignment and echo the buildings opposite in scale, and the MCA building to the south.(Hayes 1984: 1-3)Style: Inter-War Georgian Revival Style; Storeys: Four
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The site has a long history of Government ownership and usage for maritime purposes. A government dockyard was established in the area in 1796 and was 'enlarged and greatly' improved as one of the many public works undertaken by Francis Greenway during Governor Macquarie's period of office. The Commissariat stores were constructed next to the subject site.From the late 1830s until the late 1850s, work on the construction of Circular Quay progressively changed the profile of Sydney Cove. On the western side of the Cove, from the government dockyard to Cadman's Cottage, the new quay frontage was completed in 1854-1859. Following this Argyle St was extended to the new Circular Quay West and the area previously occupied by the dockyard was landlocked. The Government continued to use the rest of the site which was now bounded by Argyle & George Sts, Circular Quay West and Barton St at Queens Wharf. There were some small structures built along the George St frontage appearing to date from the 1820s, some of which were removed when the dockyard became redundant. A building shown on an 1857 plan was removed by 1865.By the 1880s, the area was being used for government stores which, together with other ancillary structures, occupied most of the Argyle St and Circular Quay frontages to the north-east of the Commissariat Stores. Cartographic evidence suggests additions were made to these buildings throughout the 1880s, and later photographic evidence suggests that much of the area along the Argyle St frontage consisted of open shed with some timber buildings on George St and Circular Quay frontages. Government usage continued throughout the nineteenth century.By the early twentieth century, parts of the area were used for commercial purposes with wool and produce merchants and Robert Swann's brass foundry and engineering works occupying buildings on George St. In 1912, the Chemical Laboratory of the Department of Agriculture was in occupation, joined in 1914 by the Government Gas Examiner's Office and the Department of Labour and Industry. By 1920 the Taxation Department and Department of Agriculture were occupying one of the Commissariat Stores next door. The State Labour Bureau of the Department of Labour and Industry occupied the site at the corner of George & Argyle Streets, with a collection of cordial manufactures, merchants and engineers occupying premises fronting the Circular Quay roadway.The Department of Labour and Industry dealt with 'measures for the relief of unemployment' by means of labour exchanges, to organise the supply of labour and to supply assistance to 'destitute persons in need of sustenance while seeking employment' the State Labour Exchanges also dealt with assisted migrants in relation to their employment. They were situated in main industrial areas such s Sydney, Newcastle and Broken Hill with agencies in principal country towns.The new building for the Department of Labour and Industry was built between 1923 and 1925. The building was 'designed to meet the needs of the department for the next few years' and would consist of three stories and a basement. Although a government building it does not appear that it was designed by the Government Architect's Branch of the Public Works Department. The architect of the building is not known.The building, was to be termed the 'Immigration Office' highlighting the basis of the migration scheme, the Empire Settlement Scheme agreed between Britain and its colonies. The scheme for Australia was to populate the country, settle the land and relieve high unemployment in Britain and Ireland. Between 1921 and 1929 more than 300 000 migrants arrived in Australia of whom more than two thirds were assisted. The Premier of New South Wales saw the scheme as a 'tremendous fillip to our secondary industries and general industrial revival' which 'would create a very keen interest in this State, and stimulate migration to these shores of thousands of people with capital of their own to invest'. Hence, the need for an up-to-date and self-contained immigration department. Immigration to Australia ceased during the period of the depression, 1929-1933 and the building was used for the distribution of relief, and for a Labour exchange. At the depth of the depression one-third of all breadwinners were out of work, subsisting on the dole, the building would have been familiar to many people living in the area. In 1946, a change to the Australian Constitution made employment the responsibility of the Federal government, removing this function from the State government's Department of Labour and Industry. In the meantime the Department became Department of Labour and Industry and Social Services (later Social Welfare), a joint function until 1956 when the employment and social services portfolio was split. The Department remained in it's building, which in 1947 housed both it and the Chief Industrial Magistrates Court. From at least 1951 until about 1957, it housed the Electrical Contractors and Electricians Licensing Committee before it moved to 58-60 Bridge St.The Department of Labour and Industry used the building from the time of its completion in 1925 up until the mid 1970s. It was then used as additional accommodation for the adjacent Maritime Services Board until the Board vacated Circular Quay in 1988 to move to Kent St. Since then it has been home to Julian Ashton School of Art and the Australian Theatre for Young People until a new fit out in 1993-94 for the Police Department on the upper three floors. In 1997 the rest of the building was fitted out for the Police, and since then it has been The Rocks Police Station.Erected in 1923-24 as the office building for the NSW Department of Labour and Industry. It is recognized as one of the last buildings to be erected in The Rocks end of George Street, succeeded by the Museum of Contemporary Arts Building, formerly Maritime Services Board Building. A foundation stone on the George Street facade of the building records the ceremony marking the commencement of construction.Archaeology Notes: Naval Dockyard. See also: 4500291(Cadmans Cottage Archaeology); 4500398 (George St Archaeology 1); 4500413 (George St Archaeology 2); 4500415 (Argyle St Archaeology). Current building constructed as offices for the Department of Labour and Industry in 1924. Currently Rocks Police Station.
Historical significance: The Rocks Police Station and site are of heritage significance for their historical and scientific cultural values. The site and building are also of heritage significance for their contribution to The Rocks area which is of State Heritage significance in its own right (see item no. 4500458).The building is located on the former government dockyard site which has been in continuous occupation and usage by government since the 1790s. The archaeological resources of the site (both those identified to date and potential archaeological remains) have been identified as of national significance.The whole of the Circular Quay area is of great historical significance as the landing place for the First Fleet, and thus, the major site for first contact between the British and Aboriginal peoples, an event which dramatically and irreversibly altered the course of history for the whole Australian continent.The early beginnings of Sydney are identified as important in the state as well as nationally.This particular site on the western side of the cove was part of the original government dockyard established in 1796 and closed by the 1850s. The deep excavation, bounded by George and Argyle Streets and within which the present building sits, was made for the dockyard. Its association with the dockyard is important as is its continued government use since then. The west alignment of 132 George Street runs parallel with and just east of the line of a very early wall, built between 1819-1822, which enclosed the dockyard.132 George Street was constructed in 1923, and has housed a variety of government departments and functions. The most notable and longest occupant was the Department of Labour and Industry, who remained there from 1923 until the mid-1970s. Its role during that time, which included the 1930s depression and the Second World War, was very much one of responsibility to the newly arrived, the unemployed and the needy. There is very little evidence remaining on site of previous uses or fitout; however, whatever evidence there is suggests that there may never have been an elaborate fitout.The design and siting of the building represent a response to the Empire Settlement Scheme of the 1920s, an Imperial system of assisted migration from Britain, designed to assist unemployment in Britain and to populate its colonies, in particular Australia and Canada. The construction and usage of 132 George Street represent this significant period in the history of the twentieth century migration to Australia and the philosophy of land settlement of the time.The siting of the new building for the Department of Labour and Industry reflects the important relationship between labour and the wharves, and then later as the arrival point for immigrant labour. The entry in Argyle Street, close to the wharves, demonstrates this relationship. The development and activities at the 132 George Street site and building are related to several of the state historical themes, namely, townships, migration, transport, labour, and government and administration.
Aesthetic significance: The prominent siting of the building at 132 George Street on the corner of Argyle and George Streets makes it a local landmark. 132 George Street defines the George and Argyle Streets intersection, and the building makes a positive contribution to the streetscape at this point by containing and defining vistas. The building is a good example of the Inter-War Stripped Classical /Georgian Revival style with strong architectural detail in liver brick, render and sandstone. It is a representative but not exceptional example of its period. 132 George Street is one of the very few remaining buildings from the 1920s period in The Rocks area. Its details are typical of the period. Although built for the government, it appears not to have been designed by the Government Architect's Office. Externally, the detailing to George and Argyle Streets is restrained but well-proportioned, giving it its only notable architectural qualities. Internally, it is very plain and almost utilitarian in its finishes. There are no finely detailed or finished areas, suggesting that these either never existed, were part of the partitioned interior now lost, or that this was the service, office end of a much larger and grander building which was planned but never completed. The latter scenario seems the most likely as the present stair enters George Street at a half level and its details, apart from the street door itself, suggest a back stair Street at a half rather than a main stair. However, this must remain as speculation until further evidence is found. This intention to extend (clearly articulated in the fabric) seems strange when a 1937 plan clearly shows the area to the east is vested in the Maritime Services Board since 1901.
Research significance: The site to the immediate east is a very rich archaeological resource. There is a strong possibility of surviving remains between 132 George Street and the former Maritime Services Board building. This deep excavation appears to have existed from the construction of the Commissariat Stores in 1812. The original dockyard wall may survive in part behind or underneath the existing retaining wall between 132 George Street and the former Maritime Services Board building, and also beneath the footpath immediately west of the present building. The site of 132 George Street has remains beneath it, the site is significant for it's archaeological research potential.
Intact assessment: Archaeology partly disturbed although parts, most of the site retain significant archaeological remains.
Physical condition: See Technical/Research SignificanceArchaeology Assessment Condition: Significant archaeological remains.Assessment Basis: Test excavation in 2008.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Working||Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour.|
|Governing||Activities associated with maintaining, promoting and implementing criminal and civil law and legal processes.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|National Trust of Australia Register||6555||27/09/1994|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0610||NSW Department of Labour & Industry Building (form||21/10/1980||100268|
|National Trust of Australia Register||6555||27/09/1994|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|
|Written||I Hayes||1984||National Trust Classification Card: Listing for 132-34 George Street.|
|Management Plan||Design 5 Architects||1999||132 George Street Conservation Plan|