Statement of SignificanceThe former Mariners' Church is situated on a highly significant site, close to the original foreshore of Sydney Cove at the foot of The Rocks, in an area which became the early focus of maritime activity in the colony. The building is historically significant as the largest establishment constructed by the Sydney Bethel Union, an inter-denominational internationally renowned philanthropic organisation formed in 1822 to safeguard the spiritual and physical welfare of sailors. The successive alterations to the building, including its enlargement to become the Rawson Institute for Seamen following a merger of the Sydney Bethel Union and the Anglican Missions to Seamen, reflect changing approaches to the welfare of seamen, and more recently demonstrate changing attitudes to heritage conservation over the period of public ownership. The place is associated with notable figures in the history of Sydney, including clergymen Lancelot Threlkeld and Thomas Gainford, architects John Bibb and Harry C Kent, trustees George Allen and Sir James Fairfax, and State governor Sir Harry Rawson. The building, despite numerous alterations, retains aesthetic significance as a well-designed and technically innovative example of the Free Classical styles of two periods, early Victorian and Federation. The site contains significant archaeological evidence of the former street pattern near West Circular Quay.
Bar, Restaurant, Nightclub
Café, Crafts Centre, Place of worship
Construction Years: 1856 - 1859
Physical Description: The first John Bibb structure was built in Victorian Free Classical style in temple form, resulting in a single large prismatic volume with two projecting wings with a cruciform plan symmetrical about 2 axes. The elevations have a high piano nobile (main floor) four pediments and carved foliated decoration.The 1909 alterations were designed by William Kent in Federation Free Classical style. The closure of Bethel Street and the creation of the Bethel Steps to replace it enabled a larger site. An extra storey was added with four columns to support the beam structure of the upper floor which consisted of a central chapel with compartments on either side. Kent added rooms to the George Street facade which were in the Federation Free Classical style, converting the façade into a three storey ensemble. The south front rooms curved around the boundary of the Bethel Steps. In 1927 a new chapel was built in the Inter- War Mediterranean or Romanesque style at ground level and a new balcony was erected on a base of retaining walls and piers of cement rendered load bearing brickwork facing Circular Quay West.In 1931 a stone cottage erected 30 years before on the north-east corner of the site was demolished and a new dwelling for the Mission Chaplain was built, designed by N W McPherson, which became part of the Davidson Wing, and was not completed until after World War II. The Circular Quay façade had become asymmetrical and idiosyncratic, and concealed almost all of the original Bibb building. In 1980-81 work undertaken on the building to adapt it for the Craft Council included the demolition of the 1931 Chaplaincy addition and part of the 1927-28 addition. A staircase and office were added, and the ground floor chapel became the Craft Centre, the basement a gallery. The treatment of the three chapels was sympathetic but some adverse work including a new mezzanine in the 1909 chapel were added.In 1990, the work, consisting of some conservation and careful adaptation work, undertaken for the Story of Sydney, was in general benign. The exteriors were improved, and a terrace was added which improved the West Circular Quay façade.(From Godden Mackay 1992: 11-35, 140-141)Style: 1856 - Victorian Free Classical; 1909 - Federation Free Classical; 1927 - Inter-War Mediterranean or Romanesque; Storeys: 3; Roof Cladding: Galvanised Iron; Floor Frame: Terracotta Tiles, concrete and bituminous felt.In 2008 a complete refurbishement of the building was undertaken, this included replacement of degraded stonework and excavation under the 1909 extension. This excavation revealed the almost complete remains of Bethel St and included a large retaining wall.
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Historic Notes and Themes
Historical notes: The site of the Mariner's Church is a significant historic site in Australia. The first occupant is believed to have been Lieutenant Ball of the First Fleet vessel "Supply" in 1788. However, the exact location of his house and garden is difficult to determine, it may be just to the north of the site. Shipping and water transport were the Colony's only means of communication with the rest of the world, a dockyard was crucial. The choice of site was probably determined by the location of the hospital wharf which was well away from the tidal flats at the mouth of the Tank Stream. The construction of dockyard buildings began in 1797 and 1798 including the foundation of a house for the master-shipwright. By c1800 the basic facilities of the dockyard were complete.Thomas Moore, the Master Boat Builder, built a house north of the dockyard. Some town leases had already been granted on the foreshore nearby: to John Baughan (later to be Robert Campbell's) and Captain Waterhouse to the north, and, to the south to Captain Johnston. Thomas Moore resigned in 1809 to retire to his own property. The use of the master-shipwright's house after 1809 is uncertain but it is possible that it continued to be the residence of at least some of his successors. However, by 1822, the master-shipwright, Daniel Egan, lived in Gloucester Street and the government paid his rent. No payment is recorded for any of his predecessors suggesting that he was the first to live somewhere other than the master shipwright's house. By the early 1820s, when the house was separated from the dockyard by the dockyard wall, it was being used by the Naval Office. In 1809 it may have become the Naval Office. This rests upon the identification of the residence, in a sketch by J Eyre of c. 1809 as that of 'N Baily', presumably Nicholas Bayly who was Naval Officer in 1809-1810. Bayly's successor as Naval Officer was Captain Henry Glenholme of the 73rd Regiment, which he held for four years (1810-1814). Glenholme's successor was John Piper. Piper might have stayed in the Naval Office when on business in Sydney, but a residence was not provided as part of his remuneration. It was reported in May 1814, when the Three Bees was destroyed:About half past six, when lying off the north west corner of the new Government Store, her first gun exploded in a direction over Mr. Blaxcell's, or the new Guard-House. Fourteen went off in all; and tho' there were several hair-breadth escapes, yet we are happy to find no personal injury has occurred. A swivel ball, which had possibly made part of a charge of grape, as there were no swivels mounted, entered Capt. Piper's parlour window through the lower sash, which it knocked to pieces, together with the inside shutter; took the corner completely off a portable writing desk, and fell expended in the apartment. The Naval Office attracted the attention of Governor Darling when he inspected the Commissariat, the dockyard and the King's Wharf in January 1826. The Sydney Gazette reported that:'The Naval Office rather astonished His Excellency, for it is of all public Departments in the Colony, though one of the most important, yet one of the most miserable indeed, it may be almost termed the oldest building in the Country...' In January 1832 it was reported that the 'site of the old Naval Office' had been chosen by the government for a new Custom House. It was still being debated in October 1833, four months after the 'materials of the Old Naval Office, situate in George-street, near the Dock Yard' had been advertised for sale. By 1833-1834 the house was about to be demolished, or to fall apart of its own accord. A 'Jetty between Campbell's and Cadman's' had been built by 1847, known as the New Landing Place. This was a public wharf, reached by a track leading down from George Street between the rock outcrops, on the line that was later to become Bethel Street. It was located on the shoreline in front of the Mariners Church site.Like all ports, Sydney welcomed as much as it abused the mariners whose ships docked here. The needs of seamen caught the attention of evangelical Christians. Methodists in London had founded a Naval and Military Bible Society in 1779, the Thames Union Bible Society started in 1813. The Bethel Union was founded in London in 1819. In Sydney three years later Captain Wrangles of the Ann persuaded his ship's company to contribute money for similar purposes. Encouraged by the example of these ships' captains, a group of clergymen of more than one denomination joined in 1822 to create a Sydney branch of the British Bethel Union. One was a prominent Anglican, the Revd William Cowper. Another significant clergyman anxious to assist seamen was a Wesleyan missionary, Benjamin Carvosso, who put an advertisement in the Sydney Gazette on 13 November 1822:For some time past it is well known certain Individuals have had in contemplation thePerformance of divine service on the Water in the Cove of Sydney; Captain Siddins having now kindly offered the use of his Vessel for that purpose, the Sailors on board the rest of theShipping in the Harbour are affectionately requested to take notice that on Sunday next, at three o'clock in the afternoon, Public Worship will be performed on board the Brig Lynx.More than a hundred seamen attended the ship-board service, as well as 'many respectable persons from the shore'. The sermon was preached by another Wesleyan missionary, just arrived from Ceylon, the Revd George Erskine'. Following this success, the two Wesleyan missionaries, Erskine and Carvosso, William Cowper and two other Anglican chaplains attended the inaugural meeting of the Sydney Bethel Union on 23 December 1822. They decided to purchase a ship to serve as a floating chapel in the harbour, offering regular services to seamen of any denomination. Although services continued to be held on ships under the Bethel flag, it took until 1827 to acquire a ship. Five years of relative inactivity ensued, with no chaplain and no chapel.The stalemate was broken by Dr John Dunmore Lang, an outspoken and vigorous Presbyterian minister who had arrived in Sydney in 1823. On one of his frequent overseas trips, Lang went to England in 1839 and America in 1840. He persuaded the British and Foreign Sailors' Society and the American Seamen's Friend Society (begun in 1826) each to pay one third of the salary of a fulltime seamen's chaplain in Sydney. Lang guaranteed that Sydney would find the other third. In 1840, as a result of Dr Lang's diplomacy, the American society appointed Revd Matthew Adam. He arrived in Sydney in 1841 and joined the voices urging a land-based church. A formal grant of the church-site in Erskine Street was at last finalised in 1842 and a small stone building was erected in 1844, to a design by William Henry Wells. He was succeeded in 1845 by a Congregationalist, Lancelot Threlkeld, a missionary and linguist who had come to Sydney from Tahiti and spent seventeen years working with Aboriginal people near Newcastle and Lake Macquarie. Threlkeld played an influential role in the replacement of the modest Erskine Street church by the grander Mariners' Church in The Rocks. When the Sydney Bethel Union Trustees Act was passed in 1851, it was decided to build a new church on a more central site and John Bibb designed the building. The Erskine Street property was sold and a new site was obtained on the south-eastern side of Circular Quay in 1852, lots 1, 2 and 3 of section 106. This new site was too small for more than a church building.The Union, in conjunction with Threlkeld, decided to erect only a temporary chapel while canvassing the government for a more suitable site. The old church at Erskine Street continued to be available until the new chapel could be erected. From 1853 until the Mariners' Church was finally opened early in 1859, Threlkeld preached in the new temporary chapel on Macquarie Street.In 1855 the new site was chosen to build the Mariners Church, and by the end of the year the walls had been constructed and ready to receive the roof. The cornerstone was laid by Governor Denison on 19 March 1856, in front of many sailors and Royal Naval officers. The church took over three years to complete. Its official opening was on 27 February 1859.Previous reports on the Mariners' Church have proposed that the church site was the first in Sydney to employ stonemasons on an eight-hour working day. A brief survey of some of the literature quoted in a recent thesis suggests that it was achieved in Sydney by these stonemasons in 1855-1856. From 1859 until 1895, the Sydney Bethel Union had a resident chaplain serving the maritime community from the Mariners' Church. To assist the chaplain, there was a panel of multi-denominational ministers. This generous, non-sectarian arrangement came under attack from the Sydney Anglicans in 1868, when in an extraordinary outburst in The Australian Churchman, it was claimed that: of all the humbugs in this city, the greatest perhaps - is the so-called Mariners' chapel, between Campbell's wharf and the Sailors' Home. It is only available for the use of sailors who are not members of the Church of England or the Church of Rome [which was untrue] and that number if we are to form a calculation from the sailors who attend worship at the said Mariners' Chapel, must be very small indeed.The Mariners' Church chaplain Lancelot Threlkeld died in October 1859. John Reid took over the Mariners' Church in 1862. The Reids lived close to the Mariners' Church and the Seamen's Home at 105 Princes Street. Their third child, born in Scotland in 1845, George Reid, would become Premier of New South Wales in 1894, and Prime Minister of Australia in 1904. Thomas Gainford became the Minister in late 1870. At his first sermon in January 1871, he successfully asked for money to construct twelve pews 14 feet long. The partitions were removed and new pews installed. He also deplored the state of Bethel Street beside the church, which had been formed in the mid-1860s: the street, he said, was 'a mess of rock and rubbish' and 'a resort for larrikins and characters of the worst kind'. When the Sydney Town Council did nothing, Gainford himself built a low stone wall on the north side of Bethel Street and a strong wooden fence on top.In 1872 Bethel Street was formed from George Street to Circular Quay along the track that had been the means of access to the waterfront and the 'New Landing Place'. The track appears on maps from the 1840s and kerbs lined it in the 1860s. The wall on the northern side was constructed in two separate stages by the Rev Thomas Gainford, the western end in 1871, and the retaining wall at the eastern end in 1873. The street was at least partly paved by the 1870s, as the 1872 works uncovered a headstone that had been used as paving.Bibb's roof girders required repair, so Gainford contacted Peter Nicol Russell, head of the Sydney foundry, and persuaded him to donate the iron. Three blank windows in the church were plastered over and scriptural texts on Faith, Hope and Love were inscribed on the plaster. These practical improvements encouraged a larger congregation, so Gainford decided to install a gallery designed by himself, to seat an additional 300. Around 1873, he excavated downwards into the bedrock to make a large schoolroom in the new basement. The rock excavated was used to make the retaining wall which still survives along Bethel Street, while the enclosure filled in with earth and rubble made a useful yard. A cottage for the chapel-keeper was afterwards built in this yard. By 1880, the Mariners' Church site contained the church itself, a single storey masonry building (presumably the chapel-keeper's cottage), and two sheds, one of iron. Wharf House, formerly Robert Campbell's residence, adjoined the church site to the north. It had been acquired by the Australasian Steamship Navigation Company in 1876. In 1884, Wharf House was demolished for the construction of new premises for the Australasian Steamship Navigation Company. The new building was built up against the northern wall of the church, which would have required the removal of projecting stones on the pediment and the blocking up of the oeil-de-boeuf windows in this wall.During Thomas Gainford's Chaplaincy other ministries to seamen emerged. The Missions to Seamen had begun in England in 1835, and in 1872, John Shearston, a Church of England layman, began to devote himself to maritime work in the Port of Sydney. In 1881 he was appointed as the first full-time Church of England missionary to seafarers in the Port. By 1886 a third body, the Methodist Seamen's Mission, was established. They all provided competition to the Mariners Church. Decline in the Bethel Union's financial situation prompted discussion, from 1887 onwards, about abandoning the Bethel Union Society's field of endeavour and leasing the Mariners' Church to the increasingly active Church of England Missions to Seamen. This did not prevent works in 1888 to the basement of the church. It enlarged and a smoking room was added to the sailors' reading room. A gymnasium was also created and the Bethel Social Club established. The Club was opened in February by Lord Brassey.The Missions to Seamen had continued its growth, unlike the Bethel Union it received fairly dependable support from Anglican parishes. The erection of a substantial Royal Naval House in Grosvenor Street in 1889, to focus on welfare work among Navy personnel, intensified the competition between the Sydney Bethel Union and the Missions to Seamen. The work and finances of the Bethel Union improved during the ministry of the next chaplain, the Baptist Rev. John Bennett Anderson, from 1891. Some repairs and renovations were made to the Mariners' Church, including the addition of a second storey to the chapel-keeper's cottage. By 1894 the Sydney Bethel Union was said to rank second in the Sailors' Institutes of the world, being surpassed only by the British and Foreign Sailors' Society in London. John Bennett Anderson resigned in 1895. In the same year, the Sydney Church of England Missions to Seamen was recognised and affiliated with the Missions to Seamen, London. The Rev. Thomas Henry Distin-Morgan, newly arrived from England, was appointed Chaplain-Superintendent. The complementary and ever-increasing difficulties of the Bethel Union and the Missions toSeamen were known to each other. As each possessed certain facilities that were beyond the other's reach, it was natural to amalgamate their resources. On the initiative of John Gainford and the newspaper proprietor Sir James Fairfax, the two committees met and agreed that unification was desirable. An agreement was drawn up for the lease of the Mariners' Church by the Missions to Seamen. Thereafter the occupying body of the Mariners' Church became known simply as the Missions to Seamen, Sydney. The lease of the former Mariners' Church was extended in 1899 and again in 1904. In the latter year, the internal spaces were described as "consisting only of a chapel and a concert hall" and the building "had outlived its suitability". In the 1906-07 year three basement windows were inserted in the west on the George Street side of the building, affording ventilation and light. By 1906 Distin-Morgan was pleading for a more up-to-date Institute which should be "attractive socially and provide educational methods as well as Spiritual instruction", with a Captains' and Officers' room or library, a gymnasium, staff offices and ablution and toilet facilities. This goal was not realised until somewhat later, and then as a result of the urging of the Governor, Sir Harry Rawson, himself a former seaman.In November 1904 the Department of Public Works requested permission to close Bethel Street for the erection of a new morgue. In 1906 Bethel Street was resumed and the street replaced by Bethel Steps. This provided the land on which the Coroner's Court and the Morgue were erected. It also regularised the shape of the Bethel Union land, making space available for the later alterations and additions. At the close of 1909, the architect Harry Kent was commissioned to design the extensions. The foundation plaque was laid by Governor Rawson, and the enlarged and remodelled building, which became the Rawson Institute for Seamen, was opened by the new governor, Lord Chelmsford, on 21 December 1910. The extensions, enveloping the Mariners' Church, made it virtually unrecognisable. The pitched roof of the chapel, and its fine parapeted pediments, were taken off and another storey was added. The entrance porch, which had been constructed over the George Street entrance, was replaced by the new entrance and other additions built to the street boundary on the west. More rooms were added on the south side. The former chapel was converted into a recreation hall. The posts and floor joists of the gallery were removed, and the oeil-de-boeuf windows on the west side were filled in. The new main stair and landings were constructed in reinforced concrete, an early example of the use of this material. The exterior design of the three-storey George Street façade was dominated by a segmental pediment. The Free Classical composition embodied references to Bibb's original design. The name RAWSON INSTITUTE FOR SEAMEN appeared in modelled letters on both west and east fronts.The activities of the enlarged Institute expanded. In the meantime, additions to the cottage at the rear were approved in 1913, and in 1916 plans were approved for the addition of a balcony to the reading room.Dame Margaret Davidson, wife of the new governor, launched a fund for the further enlargement of the Institute. In 1927 the architects Kent & Massie were appointed to provide accommodation for cadets and apprentices by converting the chapel above the recreation hall into a room for their use. A new and smaller chapel was to be erected in the space on the Circular Quay side of the site, with a small hall below this as a meeting place for the ladies' "Harbour Lights Guild". These additions were completed during 1928 and called the "Dame Margaret Davidson Wing". In 1931 the Bethel Union trustees approved the extension of the lease to the Missions to Seamen to 31 December 1960. At about the same time the stone cottage was demolished. A new dwelling for the Mission Chaplain, described as "Chaplaincy additions" replaced the cottage. The residence rose four storeys high along the Circular Quay frontage and used up all of the remaining open space of the site apart from a small light well. It became part of the Davidson Wing, though it appears that the work was not completed in full until after World War II. In 1942, plans were approved for adaptation of part of the building as a club the merchant navy, and later that year for alterations to bathrooms in the building. The plans show that part of the basement area was adapted as an air raid shelter. In 1944, further alterations were made to the former chapel on the first floor as Provision for Anglo-Indians of the merchant navy. In 1967, the last approved alteration to the building was for the addition of a neon sign to the George Street elevation.In 1971 the Mariners' Church complex was resumed by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority. The compensation was used to purchase new premises in Macquarie Place in 1975. The new Flying Angel House was opened in April 1977 ending the long association of the Bethel Union with the Mariners' Church. After vacation by the Missions to Seamen, the building at 100 George Street was adapted for the Craft Council of Australia, the Crafts Council of New South Wales, the magazine Craft Australia and the Craft Centre. The Chaplaincy addition was demolished in 1980-81, the damage caused to the eastern stonework of the original Mariners' Church became evident. The Classical form of Bibb's design became visible. The cinema biograph box suite, added in 1927, was demolished and the surrounding stonework partly reconstructed. The raised lettering THE RAWSON INSTITUTE was replaced by the legend THE CRAFT CENTRE. The complementary original lettering in the panel on the east face, however, remained. A cantilevered mezzanine and staircase, supported on a steel lateral girder, were constructed at the west end of the 1908-09 chapel. A new office, linked to it, was created in the space formerly containing water tanks inside the George Street pediment. The Craft Centre organisation began here in 1981 and remained until 1990, when the building was vacated to make way for "The Story of Sydney". "The Story of Sydney" opened in January 1991. Visitation turned out to be insufficient to cover the operating costs and it closed on 31 January 1992 after only twelve months of operation.After the departure of The Story of Sydney, the former Missions to Seamen was occupied by the Billich Gallery. Then in 2007, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority engaged Gartner Rose as project managers and Otto Cserhalmi and Partners as architects to undertake further conservation and alteration works to the building. These works included closing up the opening between the former church and the ASN Co building, demolishing all of the existing stairs except for one flight leading to the roof access, installing new stairs and a lift, and reinstating the stained glass windows removed by the Mission to Seamen; the Authority donated new stained glass windows to the Mission in their place. On Level 3, rooms were constructed beneath the mezzanine in the central former chapel, and new walls were erected in the side rooms dividing off one bay at the western end, providing areas for new lavatories. In addition, partitions were built around the gallery and screen at the eastern end, concealing it from view. The project won an Energy Australia Heritage Award for sandstone conservation in 2009. The works were completed in 2010.Subsequently, fitout works for Bar 100/La Mela were undertaken to designs by Woods Bagot Pty Ltd, architects, and completed in 2011. These works included the construction of a new kitchen on Level 2 and new bars on Levels 2, 3 and 4, and the erection of a shade structure over the eastern terrace.During the works, remains of Bethel Street, including a stone wall and kerbing, were discovered beneath the lowest floor in the south-east corner of the building. These were archaeologically excavated and are now visible from Bethel Steps.
Historical significance: The site at of the Mariners Church is important in the history of NSW as having associations with the early development of Sydney since 1788, and earlier with the Cadigal people of Sydney Harbour. To the Cadigal the site formed part of a strip of land along the western shore of Warrane (Sydney Cove) which they called "Tallawolladah". The fact that this area was named denotes it as a special or particular place for the indigenous peoples of Sydney Harbour before the coming of the Europeans.The site is associated with George Street, which is the first road created in the settlement and thus the oldest road in NSW. The history of George Street with its uses and changes since 1788, illustrate and inform the aspirations and way of life of Europeans in Australia.The site is highly significant for its historical and occupational associations with The Rocks and the maritime nature of Sydney, including the early Dockyard and Robert Campbell's house and waterside warehouse. The present physical relationship of the group of buildings including the Mariners' Church/Rawson Institute, the ASN Building, the Sailor's Home and Cadman's Cottage, evokes this history. The building is one of the symbols of early Victorian enlightenment in The Rocks. The original Chapel represented the impact of religion and welfare in the lives of visiting seamen. It is important in the history of architecture in Australia, and provides evidence of the choice of Classical styles for non conformist Protestant church buildings. The original building signifies the impact of the Bethel Union, while the Rawson Institute demonstrates that of the Missions to Seamen. The adjoiningBethel Steps is the successor to the earlier Bethel Street. The original building and the George Street façade and other exteriors are important examples of the work of the significant architects John Bibb (early to mid 19th century) and Harry C. Kent (Federation period) respectively.The building characterises and illustrates in its fabric the changes in approaches to welfare among seamen, from the mainly religious endeavours expressed in the first church to the more diverse recreational and educational approaches expressed in the progressively enlarged complex. Its resumption and adaptation by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority for use as a Craft Centre and other subsequent uses represent a continuation of a semi-public uses and the application of changing conservation values in the context of commercial pressures.The historical significance of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by:The site's association with the early maritime history of Sydney, including the former master shipwright's house and Naval OfficeThe building's association with the sailors' welfare movements that began in the early 19th century, including the Sydney Bethel Union and the Missions to Seamen The visible presence on the site of the substantial remains of Bethel Street.The place meets this criterion at a State level.
Historical association: In addition to its strong association with the Sydney Bethel Union, the evolving complex at 100 George Street is associated with a number of prominent individuals including Lancelot Threlkeld, Governor Sir Henry Rawson, Sir James Fairfax, Dame Margaret Davidson and the architects John Bibb and Harry C. Kent and his partners. The associational significance of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by: The extensive collection of moveable items and records from the former church held by the Sydney Bethel UnionThe substantial remains of Bibb's original buildingThe place meets this criterion at a State level.
Aesthetic significance: The former Mariners' Church is a fine early example of the Victorian Free Classical style of architecture in the form, space and surviving detail of the first chapel. The extensions completed in 1910 are a good and representative example of Federation Free Classical architecture, and are an ingenious solution to the difficult design problem of providing additional floor space above and around Bibb's original church without unduly compromising the original sanctuary space or the scale of the new building in the streetscape. The exteriors, in particular the George Street facade, illustrate many of the essentials of that style. The 1910 and 1928 Chapels are finely detailed interiors, the first with an interesting Baroque quality, the second an Inter-War Mediterranean or Romanesque style. The building forms an effective streetscape component of George Street North and West Circular Quay, and occupies a key location at the confluence of Hickson Road and George Street. It has a landmark quality being at the crown of a slight rise, providing a focus for a variety of spatial vistas and even different levels of views.The aesthetic significance of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by:the surviving form, construction and detailing of the three early phases of development on the site (completed in 1859, 1910 and 1928)The technical significance / creative achievement of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by:The early use of imported cast-iron windows by John BibbThe early use of riveted steel and reinforced concrete construction by Harry KentThe place meets this criterion at a State level.
Social significance: The place is not considered significant under this criterion, having a substantially diminished association with the present Sydney Bethel Union and visiting mariners despite its strong historical connection with both.
Research significance: Much of the potential of the site to yield information about its past has already been realised through previous investigations, or removed through previous demolitions. The place nevertheless retains some potential for further research. Because of the importance of the site in the early history of the State, archaeological remains could be of high significance. The research significance of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by: ·The existence on site of a range of traditional materials and methods·The presence of early cast iron window frames in Bibb's buildingThe archaeological significance of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by:·the remains already discovered of the former Bethel Street·the location of the site on the original foreshore of Sydney Cove and at the heart of early maritime activity·the early use of riveted steel and reinforced concrete construction by Harry Kent.The place meets this criterion at a State level.
Rare assessment: The former Mariners' Church is one of the earliest churches in The Rocks area, and probably the first to be erected there for non-sectarian worship. It is the earliest surviving building constructed by the Sydney Bethel Union, and one of a very small number of early buildings (including the nearby Sailors' Home) built for the welfare of seamen in Australia. It is also one of the few surviving buildings of early architect John Bibb. The rarity of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by:The building is a fine early example of the Victorian Free Classical style, with design details reflecting the maritime associations of the original building The building is also one of the earliest churches in The Rocks area and the earliest surviving building occupied by the Sydney Bethel UnionThe place meets this criterion at a State level.
Representative assessment: The representativeness of the former Mariners' Church is demonstrated by:The 1910 alterations are a good representative example of the Federation Free Classical style, which like the original building incorporate design details reflecting maritime associations.The building meets this criterion at a Local level.
Intact assessment: Archaeology: watching brief- partly disturbed. 2008 excavation for liftwell and under the 1910 extension which revealed an almost complete Bethel St
Physical condition: Archaeological Assessment Condition: Watching brief- mostly disturbed. Assessment Basis: In general it was concluded that although sub-floor deposits had been grossly disturbed by the various post-1854 building phases, the back section of the building, incorporating the Margaret Davidson Wing, contained potentially useful data at the former inter-tidal zone, some 3 metres below the current surface. Investigation: Watching brief
|Australian Theme||NSW Theme||Local Theme|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship.|
|Developing cultural institutions and ways of life||Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities.|
|Heritage Listing||Listing Title||Listing Number||Gazette Date||Gazette Number||Gazette Page|
|Register of the National Estate||1/12/036/0535||Rawson Institute for Seamen (former),||21/10/1980||2465|
|National Trust of Australia Register||7235||09/11/1981|
|Heritage Act - State Heritage Register||01559||Mariners' Church||10/05/2002||2868||85|
|Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register||Place Management NSW|
|Within a National Trust conservation area||10499|