Statement of SignificanceThe Bushells Building is of state heritage significance for its associations with a prominent and important Australian business enterprise, maker of a nationally-ubiquitous staple food product (tea), and whose principal, P H Bushell, is notable for his contributions to Australian commerce, social life and philanthropy in the twentieth century. It was an important source of employment for The Rocks residents over 50 years, and the building remains a physical landmark within the historic fabric of The Rocks providing evidence of the area's later development after the plague clearances. The building is of aesthetic significance for both its design as an excellent representative example of the Inter-War Stripped Classical style, construction technology in its hardwood post and beam internal frame, and contribution to the streetscape of Harrington and Gloucester Streets, which are recognised for their townscape character. The building continues to demonstrate varied aspects of its factory role through the retention of the processing and distribution equipment and associated floor plans.
Industrial: Warehouse / Manufacturing
Builder/Maker: A C Lewis Constructions (Concrete Constructions)
Construction Years: 1924 - 1925
Physical Description: The building is a seven-storey structure, comprising a basement with six levels above. At basement level the building covers the whole of its site, while from the level immediately above the basement its plan is indented by light wells to the north and south elevations, much the larger of these being the south well. The building uses a typical form of construction for its medium rise, warehouse type and for its date; load-bearing brick perimeter walls, pierced by many window openings, enclose an internal timber frame of heavy but not massive scantlings, which is further stabilised by the two brick-walled, reinforced concrete stair towers, to the eastern and western sides. (Moore 1991: 9 and also 9-27)Storeys: Seven; Facade: Load bearing bonded brickwork.; Roof Cladding: Galvanised iron.; Floor Frame: Timber/Reinforced concrete.; Lifts: Wooden-framed tea chest elevator; steel-framed chest elevator; passenger and good lifts.
|Lot/Volume Number||Section Number||Plan Folio Code||Plan Folio Number|
Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The land that was to become the site of the Bushells building formed part of a locale known as Frog Hollow, and area of simple terraces and cottages. The suggestion of a watercourse in the early plans may explain the nickname, which appears to be given to many marshy localities in Sydney and other towns in Australia. From the vicinity of the intersection of Grosvenor and Cumberland Streets originated a small creek, which flowed across the northwest corner of 'Frog Hollow'. In photographs held in Health Department Record there is a record of the appearance of the simple terraces and cottages on the site, including a row skewed across the land on a northeast-southwest line. These were just the sort of development the government was anxious to replace. As a locality it was known for its absentee ownership, slum rental dwellings, poor drainage and lingering stench. Following the outbreak of the plague in 1900, these buildings were demolished by the Rocks Resumption Board and subsequently by the Sydney Harbour Trust. A major redevelopment of the entire area was undertaken.St Patrick's Church and School were able to expand its site and the State Clothing Factory was developed in 1909 between the Bushells site and the Church lands, Harrington Street was realigned at its junction with Essex Street. Attempts to auction some of the Resumption Lands on a leasehold basis in1905 were unsuccessful. The Harrington Street site appears to have been acquired by Bushells c.1920 with the building subsequently completed and occupied by 1924-25. The Company acquired the site from the Sunday Times Newspaper Company, which had purchased it the previous year from the Housing Board of NSW. Sydney City Council Archives record Building Application No.136/23 of 15 the February 1923 in respect to a warehouse at this site. Apart from minor changes, the building was to remain virtually unaltered while P H Bushell remained in charge of the business. Changes were made to plant, equipment and servicing, but not to the essential placement of functions within the building. With sale of the building to the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority c.1974 and the subsequent departure of the company to its new premises at Concord in 1975, the building was vacated. In 1990 the building was occupied as site offices during construction of a nearby commercial project on a site within the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority's area. The first level above basement, above Harrington Street but below Gloucester, was appropriated as the principal offices with some temporary amenities and associated plumbing introduced, while two further levels above were partitioned off, had further toilet areas added.In November, 1998 the a 99 year lease for the property was assigned to a private company by the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, with development consent for refurbishment for its use as offices, in accordance with the requirements of the Conservation Plan. Work commenced on this refurbishment in late 1999. The adaptive reuse of the building and retention of significant fabric won four awards in 2002.[Archaeology History - The Bushells Building was constructed in 1923-1925 on the site of "Frog Hollow", a collection of domestic buildings dating to the 1820s and demolished as part of the Resumptions in 1900. Bushells remained on the site until 1975.]
Historical significance: The Bushells Building has historic associations at a local level as its location and use in The Rocks provides evidence of the historical development of the area over the course of the twentieth century. Bushell's Ltd. was an important source of employment for residents of The Rocks for over 50 years, and the building continues to provide a physical and symbolic link to an earlier, now lost age in The Rocks. The building had landmark status as one of the commercial institutions of The Rocks, and the Company enjoyed community and employee regard as a benevolent employer.
Historical association: The Bushells Building is of historic significance at a state level for its association with a prominent and important Australian business enterprise, the maker of some of the most popular and ubiquitous brand-name staple products in the nation whose principal P.H. Bushell was notable for his contributions to Australian commerce, social life and philanthropy in the twentieth century. Bushells Ltd as a company retains symbolic Australian connotations; Bushells advertising is intrinsic to the Australian historic environment and is amply demonstrated by the prominent signage on the north wall.
Aesthetic significance: The Bushells Building is of aesthetic significance at a local level given the building's simple, massive form, coupled with all its material characteristics that identify it as a commercial warehouse if its age with its simple utilitarian style embellished with Classical architectural details. The building is set within a precinct of the city with buildings of comparable scale, materials and façade treatments. The interiors of the building with their timber framing and well-lit spaces are impressive. The surviving equipment and signs have a sculptural quality but also continue to imbue the building with the character of a former working factory, and demonstrate past attitudes and approaches to the workplace.
Research significance: The Bushells Building is of technological significance at a local level given the current legibility of its fabric to inform on past work practice in the factory environment inclusive of the former packing line activities and in the extensive evidence for the materials handling methods.
Rare assessment: The Bushells Building is of rare cultural value at a local level for its in situ, albeit decommissioned, material handling and storage artefacts. These conserved pieces of equipment were introduced at various dates during the history of the building in Bushells Ltd's ownership and today collectively provide rare insight into this aspect of the historic work environment.
Representative assessment: The Bushells Building is of representative cultural value at a local level as it is similar to a number of warehouse/factory type buildings of its era in respect of its design. Its timber construction is a remnant of nineteenth century building technique that soon became obsolete with the introduction of the more economical reinforced concrete frame.
Intact assessment: Archaeology partly disturbed.
Physical condition: The building was in good condition considering its age, constituent materials, construction method, and the virtual absence of protective maintenance for almost 20 years. (Moore 1991: 24-27)Extensive work for the adaptive reuse of the building was undertaken in 1999, involving conservation and maintenance work. Much of the archaeology which demonstrates the former use by Bushells Tea Ltd. and the processes involved have been retained. The adaptive resue won four awards in 2002.Archaeology Assessment Condition: Partly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Although the building has basements on the Gloucester St frontage, photographs from c1900 show a retaining wall some 4-5 metres up to Gloucester St, earlier structures being level with Harrington St. Therefore possibly well preserved remains. Investigation: Industrial study
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0618||Bushells Building||21/10/1980||100301|
|National Trust of Australia Register||6896|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01534||Bushells Building||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|