Pier St Precinct - Archaeological Remains
Statement of SignificanceLittle Pier Street Precinct displays historical significance, firstly, due to being part of Dickson's Steam Mill Complex, which included Australia's first Steam Engine and marked the arrival of industrial technology. Little Pier Street Precinct also saw the establishment of Australia's first salting works, which introduced innovative industrial and commercial enterprise. Aesthetically, the site contains sub surface structural features such as; walls, floors and boiler foundations. Socially, Little Pier Street Precinct has become a place of high social value as an archaeological site, which contains physical evidence directly related to well known events in Australia's history. The presence of actual relics has increased the interpretative potential of the site
Tourism, recreation and entertainment
Transport - Water
Construction Years: 0 - 0
Physical Description: Currently the site contains The Sydney entertainment centre the Pump House Tavern and the 4 Seasons Hotel, with large paved and grassed pedestrian areas. The archaeology of the site may be intact under a concrete slab of the lounge bar of the 4 Seasons Hotel, there may also be remains under Harbour St, Goulburn St and to the south of the old Council depot site. The Dam wall built by Dickson in 1813-15 may also survive.
Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: At the time of settlement of Europeans part of the site was submerged and part of Cockle Bay. Dickson arrived in the colony in 1813 with the first steam engine in Australia. He chose land near the southern end of Cockle Bay to build his mill. This was a three story stone building completed in 1815, although his land grant was not formalised until 1831. He began by grinding corn then diversified into soap making, brewing and salting beef. Soon afterwards he built a pier and dammed part of Cockle Bay to keep out seawater and build up a reservoir of fresh water for his steam engine, from small freshwater streams which emptied into the south-eastern end of Cockle Bay. Dixon St is named for John Dickson and Pier St is named after the pier he built there. In 1826 the area was renamed Darling Harbour. By 1829 building had reached the shoreline, and to make better use of his land grant, reclamation began about this time. Between 1831 and 1836 a large mill or warehouse had been built on the reclaimed area. Dickson tried to sell the property in 1833 prior to his departure to England the following year, but was unsuccessful, he died in 1843 and the site was leased to a number of tenants until the 1860s. Up until his death he maintained control over the site, exercised through his nephew-in-law, Thomas Barker, who was also an apprentice to Dickson at the Mill. The occupants of the site in the 1830s are unknown, but the buildings were leased by a number of tenants throughout the 1840s. In 1844 the Sydney Salting Works ran a boiling down works for a short time until council regulations forced them to move elsewhere. Several of the buildings were used as store houses, Joseph Grose the brewer, may have had a warehouse and Henry Fisher leased the site in 1842-43 for storing wine. Little is known about the site's usage between 1844 and 1854, however archaeological evidence suggests that it was used for making and bottling soda water. About this time Dickson's dam and pier were demolished and the area reclaimed and built up. In 1868 Simon Zollner took over the lease and established one of the first galvanising works in Australia. He had previously operated a galvanising establishment in York St, Sydney. He died in 1880, but his widow continued to operate the works until 1885. Before the departure of Mrs Zollner some of the buildings were demolished and the northern part of the site built over with eight small shops or workshops. The small shops were occupied by a variety of minor manufacturing concerns, particularly metal working. The early mill building seems to have been used as a warehouse for the remainder of its life. By 1890 most of the yard area of the old mill had been covered and was used as storage space. The Darling Harbour Railway Station was on the other side of Pier St, so warehousing would have been very useful. The site and it's buildings had a range of occupants and usages throughout it's history. There appears to have been milling operations on the site until at least 1913. There was also a soup kitchen in 1868, a hotel at least as early as 1878 and by 1905 a Salvation Army shelter. Later this became a Salvation Army house/home/hostel for women until before 1923 when it was empty ground. Between 1932 and 37 most of the site was demolished to make way for a Council Depot. The ground floor and yard were built by 1940 with an additional storey added in 1954. All the structures on the site were demolished between May and July 1997.
Historical significance: Little Pier Street Precinct displays historical significance, firstly, due to being part of Dickson?s Steam Mill Complex, which included Australia's first Steam Engine and marked the arrival of industrial technology. Little Pier Street Precinct also saw the establishment of Australia?s first salting works, which introduced innovative industrial and commercial enterprise.
Social significance: Socially, Little Pier Street Precinct has become a place of high social value as an archaeological site, which contains physical evidence directly related to well known events in Australia's history. The presence of actual relics has increased the interpretative potential of the site
Research significance: The site contains potential archaeological remains which may provide information on early industrial activity in Australia.
Intact assessment: Any potential archaeological remains are buried and there is no indicator at the site of its history or archaeological interpretation.
Physical condition: The archaeological potential of the site is high, there will be some disturbance under the 4 Seasons Hotel due to the piles for the building being driven through the site, however this is localised. There may also be some disturbance from subsequent road and infrastructure development.
|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.|
|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||Godden Mackay Pty Ltd||1998||Dicksons Mill 1997, Archaeological Excavation|
|Written||Godden Mackay Pty Ltd||1992||Little Pier Street Precinct, Archaeological Assessment|