Chinese Garden of Friendship
Statement of SignificanceThe Chinese Garden of Friendship celebrates the sister state relationship between the people of Guangdong province and the people of NSW. It was a gift for the celebrations of Australia's Bicentennial and maintains a cultural and visual link with Chinatown. As such it is an important cultural site for the Chinese community, who's association with the area extends until before the 1870s. It is also an important cultural and leisure site for the wider community and international visitors.The Chinese Garden has landmark qualities as an authentic Chinese Garden which was a co-operative effort between the Guangdong Province of the People's Republic of China and the New South Wales Government. Archaeological deposits from the former Freezing and Refrigeration works may be undisturbed under the garden.Historically this site is significant as the development of refrigeration and freezing occurred here. This had a profound effect on the eating habits and health of the city and the nation. Large quantities of frozen meat were shipped from the site to Britain, an important export industry. The site had an effect on the development of the pastoral industry, especially the dairy and meat industry.The Chinese Garden has been constructed over the site of the NSW Fresh Food and Ice Co, but as the disturbance to the ground is minimal there may be large archaeological deposits still extant. The site offers research potential into the invention and development of refrigeration and freezing technology in Australia.
Tourism, recreation, leisure. Now a Chinese garden
Industrial . Refrigeration and freezing works.
Parks, Gardens and Trees
Construction Years: 1815 - 1988
Physical Description: The site is covered by a Chinese Garden, however the archaeological potential of the site, in relation to the Mort's Fresh Food and Ice Co, is high. The buildings on the site were demolished in 1985 to make way for the Garden.
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The site the Chinese Garden of Friendship is constructed on was where developments in refrigeration and freezing of international and national importance occurred. The introduction of refrigeration had profound effects in Australia. It opened up new markets and helped to stabilise and diversify a pastoral industry which had largely been a mono-culture based on wool in the late 19th century. Refrigeration probably caused the greatest changes in Australian eating habits of any factor. In enabled food to be kept longer and its availability was no longer seasonally determined.ED Nicolle, who worked under an agreement with Thomas Sutcliffe Mort developed many concepts and techniques which were to form the basis for many later refrigeration techniques. Mort had engaged Nicolle to develop a suitable freezing system to enable meat to be exported. From 1866 onwards, Nicolle and Mort worked in partnership to perfect a suitable technique. Mort provided the capital whilst Nicolle developed the concepts, carried out the experiments and designed the machinery which was to serve as the basis of the freezing process.In 1870, Nicolle patented a double ammonia absorption process which proved to be not only a world first but also the principle on which many later refrigeration techniques worked. Machinery using this process was then erected at the Darling Harbour freezing works built for Mort, which later became the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Company's works. Mort and Nicolle quickly signed an agreement with the Australian Gas Light Co for the purchase of ammonia from its works at Darling Harbour. The installation of this ammonia based refrigeration machinery was recognised later as the pioneer use of this process. This freezing process continued in use at the works for many years.Once the process was seen to be successful, Mort approached the Govt of NSW for concessions from the Railways to enable him to carry out an export trade in meat. He wrote to the Minister for Public Works on 11 Oct 1872 and was granted all the concessions he requested.Darling Harbour where the railways were extending their yards and which had access to both rail and water was seen as the best site. On 24 Feb 1873, Mort leased land form Henry Bell for the term of 33 years. The lease of a small quantity of land from the Railways allowed Mort direct access to rail transport for his country killed meat. In 1873 Mort commenced the construction of the Darling Harbour works of his freezing depot on the site. Thus commenced a gradual process which enabled the works to spread from its initial site over a much wider area as its operations grew.To take over the management of the works, Mort formed the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Co of 1 July 1875. Its intention was: 'To carry on the business of Ice Making, Cold Producing, Purchasing and Slaughtering Live Stock, Selling Meat, Purchasing and Preserving Meat and Other Animal and also Vegetable products, selling the same exporting the same for sale and other business incidental thereto.'The company was the earliest freezing company formed in the Southern Hemisphere. To enable the company to successfully carry out its enterprises, Mort bought Nicolle's patents and rights to the freezing processes and assigned them to the firm. Whilst the company was in the process of being formed, Mort made inquiries regarding a new field for innovation by the company. In July 1875 Mort visited Berrima and made enquiries about the supply of fresh milk to the company to ship to Sydney using a refrigeration process. Early in Sept 1875, the Darling Harbour plant and its associated slaughtering works at Bowenfels near Lithgow were opened.The company quickly became a force in the eating habits of Sydney's population. By August 1877, the company produced ice and sold milk, cooked meats, fish and butter. The company's sales of country milk kept fresh by refrigeration and undiluted proved to be a major advance which greatly increased the life expectancy of the city's infant population. Previously, milk had often been diluted and sold with no means of keeping it fresh. Customers relied solely upon the honesty of a debt-ridden milkman before the advent of the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Co's milk supply.In 1877, pushed along by investors originally involved in the freezing experiments as a way of shipping meat to Britain, Mort arranged to ship a trial batch of frozen meat with the Northam. Problems arose with the equipment and the ship sailed without the meat. Others were shortly to win renown with shipments of frozen meat from Argentina and Australia. However, the 'failure' was more apparent than real. Linge points out that though the company was not responsible for shipping the first load of frozen meat to Britain, it had the bulk of the frozen meat trade from Australia to Britain until 1892.The Fresh Food and Ice Co continued to prosper, in 1878 improvements were made to the machinery to make it more efficient. By 1878-79, carts delivered the company's ice daily in the city and three times a week in the suburbs. The 1880s were a period of expansion as the company established plants on the North and South coasts to supply it with milk. The long arm of the company reached out across the state and changed the landscape of these areas and ensured steady returns to farmers in these regions. Between 1887 and 1891 new buildings were built and capacity increased. In 1893 the company spread northwards by leasing new land to the north of the original site. In 1898, improvements to permit the works to carry out the freezing of large consignments of meat for export at a moments notice. The machinery was reported to now be based on the direct expansion process. The old double ammonia absorption plant built by Nicolle may have been dispensed with at this time. The 1890s also saw the company push for the pasteurization of milk as an aid to keeping it fresh.By about 1910 the company had three refrigeration machines, one with a capacity of 160 tons per day and two with 40 tons each per day. In 1912 it was reported that the company used four Hercules machines for its freezing plant.In brief the New South Wales Fresh Food and Ice Co can be seen as a pioneer enterprise which was associated with developments which had international and national significance. These included its pioneering use of the double ammonia refrigeration process. It profoundly influenced the health of Sydney's population with its supply of fresh food and especially milk. Some buildings on the site survived until their demolition in 1985 for the construction of the Chinese Garden.
Historical significance: Historically this site is significant as the development of refrigeration and freezing occurred here. This had a profound effect on the eating habits and health of the city and the nation. Large quantities of frozen meat were shipped from the site to Britain, an important export industry. The site had an effect on the development of the pastoral industry, especially the dairy and meat industry.
Aesthetic significance: The Chinese Garden has landmark qualities as an authentic Chinese Garden which was a co-operative effort between the Guangdong Province of the People's Republic of China and the New South Wales Government. Archaeological deposits from the former Freezing and Refrigeration works may be undisturbed under the garden.
Social significance: The Chinese Garden is part of a network which includes Chinatown and is an important cultural site for the Chinese who's connection to the wider area extends before the 1870s. The site is also an important cultural and recreation/leisure site for the wider community. It is a symbol of the sister state relationship between the people of the Guangdong province and New South Wales. The site also has significance as the development of freezing and refrigeration had a profound effect internationally and locally on diet and public health.
Research significance: The Chinese Garden has been constructed over the site of the NSW Fresh Food and Ice Co, but as the disturbance to the ground is minimal there may be large archaeological deposits still extant. The site offers research potential into the invention and development of refrigeration and freezing technology in Australia.
Rare assessment: The site is significant because of the invention of refrigeration and freezing in Australia occurred here.
Intact assessment: The plant and its building are all demolished, however the archaeological potential of the site is high.
Physical condition: The archaeological potential of the site is high, the construction of the Chinese Garden on the site had minimal impact on the subsurface strata.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the manufacture, production and distribution of goods.|
|Peopling the continent||Activities associated with common cultural traditions and peoples of shared descent, and with exchanges between such traditions and peoples.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with preparing and providing medical assistance and/or promoting or maintaining the well being of humans.|
|Developing local, regional and national economies||Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use.|
|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.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with recreation and relaxation.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||02017||Chinese Garden of Friendship||05/10/2018||7347||102|
|Written||Higginbotham and Kass for Public Works Department of NSW||Darling Harbour Bi-Centennial Development Project.; A Brief History of Its Evolution and as Assessment of the Cultural Significance of the Items of the Built Environment in the Area|