Cockle Bay Precinct Archaeological Remains
Statement of SignificanceThe site is significant for the archaeological potential still extant, this is important for the information it may reveal about industrial and technological advances over almost a two hundred year period. This area was where beginnings of industry, the development of technologies and significant transportation facilities in Australia occurred. Some of these developments such as freezing and refrigeration had important implications both in Australia and internationally. Part of the area includes Chinatown and thus has cultural significance for the Chinese community whose association with the area extends to c1870s. It is a large site with a diverse history stretching back to pre European settlement. It includes Cockle Bay which was named for the large middens and thus may have indigenous archaeological significance.
Other - Maritime Industry
Construction Years: 1791 - 0
Physical Description: The subject area lies between Sussex Street and Darling Harbour. Most of the area is covered with new development from the 1988 Bicentennial project and subsequent development. Darling Walk area being redeveloped during 2008 and 2009, archaeological excavation on this area has uncovered extensive remains.
Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The first mention of what later was to be known as Darling Harbour is found as early as 1788, under the name of Long Cove when it was suggested that Government House should overlook its waters from the ridge where Saint Andrews Cathedral stands today. Although subsequently land grants were made around its foreshores these were for residences rather than for trade or manufacturing. The rocky shores were still covered with scrub and shell fish, a staple diet of the aboriginal people, giving rise to the alternative name of Cockle Bay. By 1791-2 Officers quarters and a magazine were built near where Erskine Street now lies. In the early 1800s a military bathing house was constructed which stood until 1863. This site now lies beneath the roadway and may have substantial remains. The peninsula where the bathing house was built became known as 'Soldiers Point' which was marked on maps until at least the 1850s. In the early days of the infant colony there was little trade with the outside world; American ships traded items in short supply in Sydney, and British ships brought convicts and a few supplies before sailing away in ballast as there was little to export. By 1807 activity had increased with Sydney becoming a regular port of call for shipping between Europe, China, and India and it was also a refitting port for the many American and British whalers in the Southern Oceans. British ships were concentrated around Sydney Cove with the foreign ships in Neutral Bay. Farm Cove was reserved for the Domain thus debarring its deepwater anchorage from shipping. This left only Cockle Bay to accommodate the overflow of shipping from Sydney Cove. At this time the head of Cockle Bay was still tidal mudflats extending nearly as far as the line of the intersection of George and Barlow Streets. The brickfields were established by about 1791 at the head of Cockle Bay on the site of Central Railway Station today . By 1822, signs began appearing of the commercial development to come, Market wharf appears on the 'plan of the Town and Suburbs of Sydney' of 1822 where produce from Parramatta was carted up over the hill to the markets Macquarie established in 1813. Two wharves were built to receive produce from Parramatta and Windsor, and a new steam driven mill, together with its own deep water wharf, established to cope with the increased supply of wheat from those regions. This mill, founded by John Dickson in 1815, was located on the south east shore of Cockle Bay where its mill pond was serviced by the streams flowing down from Surry Hills. By the 1830s Thomas Barker who had established another steam mill nearby, subdivided the area around his factory and developed other land nearby. The name Cockle Bay was changed to Darling Harbour in 1826, and as the level of commerce through it grew, its importance became established. The 1840s saw new wharves built to handle the increased coastal trade, wheat came to the wharves from Van Diemens land together with the farm produce from the Illawarra region and fresh vegetables and fruit from the farms of Lane Cove and around Parramatta. All imported goods were loaded on bullock carts and pulled up the steep slopes from the wharves; the age of railways lay just ahead for Australia, although another new technology had arrived in Sydney with the completion of the gasworks on the shores of Darling Harbour bringing lighting to streets and wharves. In the next decade the first move towards improved communications with the interior commenced with the construction of the railways. The first railway to Darling Harbour was constructed by 1855 from the new rail terminal at Redfern. The early 1850s were a period when the discovery of gold dispersed the population and forced prices up. However, when stability returned the growth of the city led to the reclamation of part of the mudflats at the head of Darling Harbour. The reclamation of the head of the harbour was carried out with the spoil from the Sydney railway yard excavation which was used to fill both the mill pond and the area beyond . By the end of the decade a private company had constructed a toll bridge to link the city with its north western suburbs. The bridge finished in 1857, was of timber with an opening span. In 1864 the Harbours and Rivers Branch of the Public Works Department fronted this reclaimed land with a stone dyke completed in 1865. Permission was also granted for a number of private wharves to be constructed along the eastern shore of Darling Harbour. By 1869 it was clear that produce from the central west and south western districts would no longer be brought to Sydney by road, and the amount of wool would greatly increase. With baled wool being loaded at Bathurst and Goulburn it could be exported by direct transhipment from rail trucks at Darling Harbour. Accordingly the Government provided additional rail sidings and a new iron wharf. This was completed in 1874 to meet the needs of larger steam ships for deep water. Apart from recession towards the end of the 1870s the trade and importance of Darling Harbour grew. In 1881 there was a move to extend a railway line along the eastern side of Darling Harbour and from there via a tunnel to Circular Quay. This was backed by those who exported their wool through warehouses at Sydney Cove to Clipper Ships moored at Circular Quay. The plan would have hastened the city's commercial development and provided direct rail communication with the wharves much more cheaply than could have been done by the proposals to extend a goods railway to Circular Quay. The plan was abandoned in the depression of the 1890s, and the goods yards at Darling Harbour were steadily improved. The absence of goods railway to Circular Quay and the ferry traffic to the northern suburbs saw cargo vessels diverting to Darling Harbour, and Circular Quay receiving passenger vessels. The 1890s saw the development of hydraulic power which was used to operate cranes and wool presses more efficiently. The hydraulic pumping station was built on the western shores of Darling Harbour to provide the power for these operations. The new Pyrmont Bridge was opened in 1902, with a swing span of world class operated electrically. With new area reclaimed and the demolition of substandard properties, the opportunity was taken to relocate the city markets close to the railway facilities, which were constructed before World War 1. Vegetable production was mainly a Chinese enterprise and there had been a Chinatown of sorts along Darling Harbour since the 1870s. After the war larger goods facilities were constructed and the last reclamation used the fill from the construction of the city underground railway. Factories and marine chandlers, transport companies and market warehouses, wool stores and other enterprises were all operating at Darling Harbour, but many closed during the depression in the 1930s. Finally the direct link between rail and shipping facilities grew less important with the development of container terminals and road transport, and the closure of the railway yard became inevitable. Early in 1984 the New South Wales Government announced its intention to develop the area for tourism, education, recreation, entertainment, cultural and commercial activities. The area was developed with these aims in mind as a present to the people to celebrate the bicentennial in 1988. In 2008 the Darling Walk area was demolished and an archaeological excavation carried out which uncovered extensive remains. The area will be redeveloped in 2009.
Historical significance: The industrial development of Darling Harbour began in 1815 with the erection of the first steam engine in Australia. This heralded the industrial revolution and Darling Harbour was also the site where refrigeration was developed in Australia. The site is historically significant for the development of industry, technology, and transportation in Australia.
Aesthetic significance: Most of the original fabric has been demolished therefore there is little aesthetic significance.
Social significance: The site has social significance for the development of industry and the adoption of technologies in the area which benefited the wider community in a range of areas including public health. Part of the site includes Chinatown which has cultural significance for the Chinese community who's association with the area stretches back to c1870.
Research significance: The site has significant research potential as an archaeological resource which can inform about early industrial, technological and transportation developments in Australia. The arahceological excavation carried out on the Darling Walk area has uncovered extensive remains which indicates that the extant resource is likely to be extensive.
Rare assessment: The archaeological resource of the area is classified as rare. The site has the potential to reveal information not available from any other source or archaeological site.
Intact assessment: Most of the above ground features have been demolished, but significant archaeological remains are extant. 2008-2009, archaeological excavation at Darling Walk indicates that a significant archaeological resource is extant.
Physical condition: The archaeological potential of the subject site is high in some places, but may be completely lost in others. 2008-2009- archaeological excavation at the Darling Walk site has uncovered extensive remains, indicating that the extant resource is likely to be extensive
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Written||Casey & Lowe||2002||Non-Indigenous Archaeological Assessment - Cross City Tunnel Route - Darling Harbour to Kings Cross|
|Written||Higginbotham and Kass for Public Works Department of New South Wales||1984||Darling Harbour Bi-Centennial Development Project.; A Brief History of its Evolution and an Assessment of the Cultural Significance of the Items of the Built Environment in the Area.|