Statement of SignificanceLawson House was constructed c.1924 as the Sydney Depot for the Cadbury-Fry confectionary company and designed in the Inter War Free Classical style by architects Burcham Clamp and Finch. Lawson House contributes to the representative historic and aesthetic values of the state significant precinct of The Rocks through its architectural style, built form, streetscape contribution and period of construction. Lawson House is primarily significant to the local area for its historic and aesthetic values. Historically, the building is evident of the Inter War period of development that occurred in The Rocks. It is significant for the contribution the building makes to the historical and scientific values of The Rocks. It also forms a small precinct of Inter War commercial buildings which replaced Victorian period housing that was intended to be resumed prior to the First World War. Historically, the building is associated with well known confectionary company Cadbury-Fry Pascal Pty Ltd although the use was relatively short lived, it was not a flagship building of the company and the ability to interpret this association has been eroded as the use has ceased and machinery removed.Lawson House is also associated with the well known Sydney architectural firm Burcham Clamp and Finch. Stylistically and structurally it is similar to the other buildings designed by John Burcham Clamp but owing to its construction date it does not demonstrate the progressive techniques of style and construction that are evident in a number of his other buildings.Lawson House is aesthetically and technically representative of a restrained example the Inter War Free Classical style of architecture featuring a robust form, prominent end bays, dressed stone detailing, timber partitions and other early finishes to office and foyer spaces.The building structure is relatively common for the period and typical for buildings used as commercial warehouses. The site demonstrates some research potential for relics related to the former residential use of the site from the mid nineteenth century.
Auctioneer, Warehouse, Offices
Offices and warehousing
Builder/Maker: Burcham Clamp and Finch
Construction Years: 1924 - 1924
Physical Description: The building is a robust dark brick building with sandstone trim, including strong parapet feature. It has three levels to Cumberland Street, and four levels to Gloucester Street. The building, commenced in 1924, is of the Inter-War period in the Free Classical style, displaying the characteristic classical elements introduced into an otherwise simple exterior. Classical features include large dentilled cornice to sandstone parapet (with protective lead capping), articulated brick pilasters (with decorative 'quoins'). The steel framed windows are typically small and operate by pivot. Where window is multi-paned, the central windows pivots, and the top and bottom sashes are fixed. The entrance foyer appears to be in original condition, with marble floors, threshold and wall lining, and original timber doors. Inner entry doors are timber with bevelled glass panels. A plaque in the entry foyer refers to Lawson's occupation of the building in 1982, as opened by the Governor, Sir James Marshall, for JR Lawson Pty Ltd. Internally, the southern end retains a significant degree of original fabric, and layout, including timber panelling, timber joinery (doors, architraves, skirting boards, glazed partitions, staircase). The northern end, is largely divided by modern partition walls. The ceiling is modern - suspended acoustic.
|Lot/Volume Number||Section Number||Plan Folio Code||Plan Folio Number|
Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The site is known to have been occupied from the early years of the nineteenth century, although it is likely that, like the other ridges of The Rocks, it was occupied by the encampment of settlers in the first weeks of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788. Lesueur's 1802 "Plan of the town" shows the church at the end of Gloucester Street and some buildings indicated in the vicinity of the site with the alignment of Gloucester and Cumberland Streets was already established. The surveyor Charles Grimes noted four owners/occupiers at the site over two or possibly three allotments in his 1803-1807 field book. The names are unclear but may be Kavanagh, Hardy, Bhilan, and Elgen. James Meehan's 1807 "Plan of the Town of Sydney in NSW" clearly indicates the site and nearby parcels of land that were given over to leasehold. At this time the site was still on Crown Land. By 1822, the settlement of The Rocks was reasonably well established and plans show single allotments occupying the site, these were most likely dwellings. Nine years later the Hoddie, Lanner and Mitchell "Map of the Town of Sydney" provided street names and both Cumberland and Gloucester Streets were clearly marked as terminating at Charlotte Place (now Grosvenor Street). Many of these residents would have been employed in occupations associated with the port including labourers, carters, carriers, agents, importers etc. Land at the site remained Crown land until the 1830s and Department of Land titles information shows the site to be an amalgamation of various lots granted at this time as part of Section 64 including all of Lot 13 granted to William Davis in 1836, part of lot 15 granted to Thomas Bray and Edward McRoberts in 1839, part of lot 12 granted to Elizabeth Gaunson in 1840, part of lot 11 originally granted to James Glover in 1840 and part of lot 16 originally granted to Christopher Crane in 1840. This also included the whole of lot 14 granted to William Henry Dowling in 1841. A survey of the Sydney Council Rate Books and the Sands Directory from the 1850s highlights the predominantly residential character of the site. It would appear from this assessment that there has been little or no history of industry on the site. There has been some commercial use in the form of boarding houses and businesses operating from residences, such as boot makers, dressmakers, jewellers and tailors. The dwellings on site were in private ownership until approximately 1907 when the land was acquired by the NSW Government Rocks Resumptions. In terms of the types of buildings on the site, the site was dominated by the large brick and stone terraces characteristic of residential investment building in The Rocks. There were also some wooden buildings and smaller scale single storey dwellings on the site, however these occurred earlier rather than later according to the rate books. By the 1870s the predominant construction medium was brick and the majority of residences were at least two storeys.212-216 Cumberland Street:Previously illustrated maps have shown buildings on the site as early as 1807. One of the earliest rate book entries for Cumberland Street was in 1848 listing two double storey brick houses at 212 and 214, the second being a public house with stables and a pair of shingled single storey wooden houses at 216 and 218. By the end of the 1850s, these buildings were all demolished. 212 remained vacant until the late 1870s. No 214 featured a small timber dwelling which seems to have occupied the site until 1876. At No 216 a stone dwelling was built circa 1857 and was replaced by a two storey brick residence in c.1865 before being demolished in 1876. As noted the individual dwellings at 212, 214 and 216 Cumberland Street were demolished c.1876 with the rate books recording a row of three four storey brick terraces in 1877 yet they are also identified on the 1865 Trig Survey. Each had a slate roof, seven rooms and balconies to the rear (east) elevation. The rear elevation of the terraces at 212-216 Cumberland Street is depicted in the Lionel Lindsay etching, "Old Houses at Gloucester Street." The row of terraces remained on site until the 1920s and the construction of the existing building for Cadbury-Fry Pascall Ltd. 218 Cumberland Street:218 Cumberland Street had a less intermittent early building history, the two or three storey brick residence built in 1857/8 remained on site until 1877. A new brick residence was built in 1877; it was three storeys but had fewer rooms and a shingled roof. This dwelling is recorded onsite by survey plans until 1901 and in rate books until 1923.195 Gloucester Street:The rate book entries for 1857 show a shingled two storey stone residence consisting of two rooms at No 195. By 1865 a three storey brick building is recorded, which had three rooms and a slate roof. It is likely this three storey dwelling remained on site until 1921, although there are some discrepancies in the rate book entry dated 1907-1911. 197 & 199 Gloucester Street:The allotment now known as 197 Gloucester Street consisted of a pair of terrace houses from the mid nineteenth century until the 1920s. The dwellings were commonly identified as 197 and 199 and have a parallel history of ownership and development. Rate books show a pair of two/three storey houses had been on the site from 1857 until at least 1921 before the site was cleared for the construction of the Cadbury warehouse. The dwellings were described as stone prior to 1877 and brick thereafter however they were otherwise quite similar, having a slate roof and six to seven rooms.Cadbury-Fry Pascall Sydney DepotThe first Cadbury factory was built in Australia in 1922 following the company's successful English merger with Fry and Sons. Australia had been an important market for the company since the 1880s and after the factory was established in Claremont, Tasmania, the company merged with Pascall to become Cadbury-Fry and Pascall. Two years later the City Council approved a building application for the site to construct the "New Sydney Depot" for Cadbury-Fry-Pascall Ltd, the cocoa and chocolate manufacturers. The new warehouse siting was perfect because of its proximity to the harbour which would enable easy receiving of deliveries from Tasmania. The building was designed by the Sydney firm of Burcham Clamp and Finch who had an office in Macquarie Street. Burcham Clamp also designed "Wyoming", an office building on Macquarie Street and collaborated with Walter Burley Griffin to create the Methodist Church in 1915, now used as the Mosman Art Gallery. Building plans which survive in the Sydney City Archives are consistent with the packaging, assembly, storage and distribution of product however the use of the building was not specified on the plans. The basement plans show three "cart docks over" on the ground floor which is accessed from Cumberland Street and a fourth on the basement level from the Gloucester Street elevation, which was never built. Provision for awnings and other materials are outlined and the goods lift is clearly indicated servicing all floors. Fire stairs and egress are noted at the southern elevation, with the primary access stairs located at the north side of the building. Plans indicate that the ground floor also featured offices, creating a front of house and providing a "face" for the Cadbury operations in Sydney. From the Cumberland Street elevation visitors entered a small vestibule area, with typist's rooms to the right and manager's offices to the left. A corridor led the visitor left to the general offices and enquiry counter and a showroom was directly opposite these offices. A second small service lift is indicated along the eastern wall of the showroom, servicing only the ground floor and the assembly room above. Ground floor plans also indicate three glazed prismatic lighting bays in the Cumberland street pavement allowing light to the lower basement floor. These are still present. The first floor was dedicated almost entirely to assembly. There was also a small area for advertising and document storage. Some possible amendments have been pencilled onto these plans at the southern end of the first floor and may indicate additional larger storage areas or offices. The second floor plan gives no indication as to its use while the roof plan shows a parapet and cornice and some building services such as a man hole, motor room and down piping are also indicated. Cadbury-Fry continued to use the building throughout World War II, during which time they were the official supplier of chocolate to the armed forces. Records show that in October of 1949 Cadbury-Fry and Pascall applied to the Council for the installation of a bowser tank and the associated underground piping for petrol on the premises. The petrol fill box was transferred from Cadbury-Fry and Pascall to Craig Mostyn and Co. in 1958, although there is some suggestion that they may have vacated the premises as early as 1951. It is not known exactly when Cadbury Fry vacated the warehouse at Cumberland Street. Cadbury Chocolate was unable to provide further documentation or pictorial evidence relating to the subject site.Warehouse and OfficesFollowing the vacation of Cadbury-Fry and Pascall, the site was occupied as warehouses and offices. It is likely that Craig Mostyn and Co. first occupied the building in 1958 when the petrol fill box was transferred. From their humble beginnings in 1923 Craig Mostyn and Co. has become one of Australia's most successful companies, exporting selected Australian produce. Originally the company exported leather, harvested wattle bark for the tanning industry and sold tanning machinery in Australia. In the 1920s and 30s they expanded into eucalyptus oil, wool, rabbit skins and tallow which became the mainstay export. Fruit also provided an excellent export opportunity and gradually the company also acquired mills and by 1960 Craig Mostyn and Co was exporting large quantities of bark. The site was probably used as it was under Cadbury-Fry and Pascall, as an office and packaging and distribution facility although there is no documentary evidence. Similarly, the site's proximity to the harbour would have been beneficial for the exportation of the company's goods. Craig Mostyn and Co. lodged two applications with the City Council for alterations to the building during the 1960s. The 1967 application included a request to replace the goods lift with a new passenger lift, erecting a roof top lift motor room and laying new roof decking in connection with the use of the premises as a warehouse and associated office. The additional motor room was to match the building exterior with face brickwork and aluminium coping. This alteration never took place though it was approved. The second development application lodged in December 1968 requested permission to carry out significant alterations to the exterior at the western Cumberland Street elevation as well as the ground floor interior; including the filling in with brickwork of the two southernmost dock entrances, the erection of an internal wall, the removal of interior partitions and the repositioning of fire doors. The new face brickwork was proposed to match the existing and three new windows were designed to complement the contemporary ground floor windows and were aligned vertically with the smaller windows on the second storey above. Existing vents were repositioned in the new brickwork. Internally, the floors at the northern end of the building were raised. A new ceiling was constructed below the original beams and acoustic tiles were applied to match existing panels and for soundproofing. The petrol pump installed by Cadbury was relocated to the northernmost dock where the floor was retained at the existing level. This new space was to be used as offices. This application was approved and a single dock entrance remains today. In 1982 the building was occupied by Lawson's and a plaque in the foyer refers to the opening by Governor Sir James Marshall, for JR Lawson Pty Ltd. Lawson has been a household name in auctioneering since 1870 when James R Lawson senior established himself as the leading auctioneer in Sydney Town. At that time, everything from groceries such as tea and salt, through to sailing ships were sold by public auction, often on the wharfs. In September 2001 Menzies Group of Companies acquired the historic Sydney auction house Lawson's and the company was then expanded into two brands with the Cumberland Street office now named Lawson-Menzies, targeting the upper end of the Australian auction market for art, wine, jewels and decorative arts as well as prestigious house contents auctions. Under Lawson and later Lawson-Menzies, the site was used not only for storage and distribution, but evaluations and public auctions. In order to enhance and rationalise this use, permission has been granted for various internal alterations since 1993. A report was prepared and submitted in 1993 and carried out some time later, most likely in 1995, for a significant refurbishment to the fire safety facilities including new fire doors and installation of smoke detectors and portable fire extinguishers throughout, as well as new lighting in the fire stairs. Some internal and external repainting took place along with repairs to the windows and side doors, the front entry doors and frame were refurbished and picture rails were reinstated. The report also included a recommendation which was carried out in 1994 for the application of a waterproofing membrane to the roof, while the sump and gutter as well as a section of corroded down pipe were repaired. Floor plans included in the report indicate considerable additional partitioning to all levels which is undocumented as well as a partially completed cool room at the northern end of the basement level which may have been constructed when the building was occupied by the wholesalers Craig Mostyn and Co. In 1995 Lawson House was refurbished, with some internal partitions demolished in the Decorative Arts Department, Interview and Collection Areas on the Basement Level. Floor finishes were also modified in these departments and security gates to the loading dock installed. At the ground level, more partitioning was demolished in the Administration and Jewellery Departments including reuse of glass panels. The original 1924 strong room was also demolished. The tea room was refurbished and the existing toilet/ kitchen facility was upgraded to a new client toilet facility. There was also some modification to the area behind reception. There were significant first floor renovations when the tea room was refurbished, including a new timber staircase. The bathrooms were demolished and converted to a new staff toilet and kitchen facility. The original date of installation of these is undocumented though they are shown in Bates' 1993 plans. To accommodate a new data and telecommunications area, there was some general demolition and removal of all partitions on the second floor, along with a refurbishment of the WC. External brickwork was steam cleaned and the stone work stabilised in the same year with studies indicating that similar work had been undertaken in the past 20 years. Other minor repairs and alterations included the replacement of the parapet wall flashings and the rain heads, while down pipes and stormwater footpath crossings were also cleared. New stair carpet followed in 1996 and the awning on Cumberland Street was remodelled. The metal fascia was straightened and treated and the awning roof sheeting was renewed. New Interview and Catalogue Rooms were created in the basement. Some additional partitioning on the ground floor in 1997 obscured the windows to Cumberland Street. In 2000 the first floor kitchen and bathrooms were again completely re-fitted. There have also been some alterations to the facades which cannot be traced to any council building application records including the vehicular entrance on Gloucester Street and the provision of security bars to the ground floor windows at the Cumberland Street elevation.
Historical significance: Constructed in c1924, Lawson House is historically representative of the Inter War phase of commercial redevelopment in the state significant precinct of The Rocks. The site was originally planned for resumption in the early part of the twentieth century, however this was interrupted by the First World War (1914-18) and redevelopment of the site and some surrounding properties did not occur until the 1920s. Consequently the building stock in this area consists largely of commercial buildings which contrasts to the terrace housing and flat buildings constructed during the Federation period of resumptions. Lawson House is one in a group of four Inter War commercial buildings in the block bounded by Grosvenor, Gloucester, Essex and Cumberland Streets.
Historical association: The building was originally constructed for use as a factory and warehouse for the well known company Cadbury Fry who have produced confectionary in Australia since the 1920s. The subject building was not the flagship but the Sydney Depot and a centre to facilitate trade. The change in the use of the building after more than 30 years of occupation and the removal of machinery has hindered the ability to interpret the use by Cadbury-Fry.Subsequent occupants of the building include the Lawson Menzies, auctioneers, and Craig Mostyn and Co, an exporter of goods. Research to date has not demonstrated that these companies are of historical importanceto the local area.Lawson House was designed by Sydney architects Burcham Clamp and Finch. John Burcham Clamp was prominent throughout the first quarter of the twentieth century and designed significant buildings such as Wyoming onElizabeth Street, Sydney.
Aesthetic significance: Lawson House largely intact example of an Inter War Free Classical warehouse building. It is features a robust external treatment of prominent end bays with vestigial pediments and a high proportion of solid to void elements with rows of almost horizontally proportioned windows to the upper levels. The solidity of the façade treatment is affirmed through the use of dressed stone stringcourses and parapets. The detailing is relativelyrestrained with a limited use of classical motifs but some decorative stonework to openings, wall panels and parapets and brickwork quoins to piers. Internally the building features a structure of reinforced concrete floors and columns. It has retained some original features such as the fittings and finishes and to the entrance and offices on the ground level including Queensland Maple office partitions. The building is considered to be anaesthetically representative example of an Inter War Free Classical commercial building.There are some Inter War commercial buildings in the vicinity of Lawson House, however they are visually disparate and some elements are not of high aesthetic quality. There is not the level of quality or consistency for it to be recognised as an aesthetically significant precinct.Lawson House makes a strong contribution to the streetscape and the urban morphology of state significant precinct of The Rocks owning to its form, details and materials.
Social significance: Research to date does not show that an identifiable community or cultural group holds a special association with the subject building.The people of NSW generally demonstrate a special association with The Rocks area and the subject building makes a contribution to the urban character of The Rocks.
Research significance: Prior to the construction of the subject building, the site was occupied by a row of three terraces and a separate brick residence which fronted 212-216 and 218 Cumberland Street respectively. A stone dwelling and a pair of brick terraces at 195 and 197-199 fronted Gloucester Street. These buildings date from the mid to late nineteenth century. There has been significant disturbance of the site with the excavation for the basement level, consequently very little evidence relating to the Cumberland Street structures is likely to remain. There is moderate potential for relics relating to the Gloucester Street dwellings such as building foundations and yards with a higher potential for deeper subsurface features such as wells and cess pits including the rear outhouses for the terraces at 212-216 Cumberland Street.
Representative assessment: Historically, the subject building is representative of the Inter War phase of commercial redevelopment in state significant precinct of the The Rocks. Lawson House also contributes to a small precinct bounded by Grosvenor, Gloucester, Essex and Cumberland Streets that features four Inter War commercial buildings that is historically representative of this phase and type of development in The Rocks.Lawson House is a good representative example of the Inter War Free Classical style of architecture in the local area.Lawson House is not considered to be an excellent representative example of J Burcham Clamp's architectural work. A number of other well known buildings designed by Burcham Clamp featured a progressive use of structural technology or façade design.
Intact assessment: Archaeology mostly disturbed.
Physical condition: Archaeology Assessment Condition: Mostly disturbed. Assessment Basis: Basements.
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Peopling the continent||Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation ? does not include architectural styles ? use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities.|
|Building settlements, towns and cities||Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages.|
|Working||Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Lawson House|
|Royal Australian Institute of Architects register||4703208|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01557||Lawson House||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Written||Higginbotham, Kass & Walker||1991||The Rocks and Millers Point Archaeological Management Plan|
|Management Plan||City Plan Heritage||2006||Lawson House 212-218 Cumberland St, The Rocks|