Many thoughts on Breakfast Point, history and society are found here - some may
be wrong. All deficiencies and errors of fact herein are apologised for and unintentional ;
and if notified to firstname.lastname@example.org they will be fixed as promptly as possible.
BREAKFAST POINT - called a 'shining light' of 'new suburbia' ....
Breakfast Point (2014) - Formerly this was all known as "Mortlake". However, Breakfast Point was designated a suburb by the Geographic Names Board on 16 April 1993. Who nominated it is not yet known, and a query to Canada Bay Council found nobody who knew. Wikipedia states "According to historical records, the suburb name is derived from the first contact between Europeans and the traditional owners of the land, the Wangal Clan. The encounter took place on 5 February 1788"; however the suburb name likely derives from Rosecorp - and whether or not this area was where the English had breakfast on their upriver journey of 5 February 1788 remains uncertain (various early maps show differing positions for 'Breakfast Point'. The area was occupied by the Mortlake Gas Works of the Australian Gaslight Company (AGL). AGL began developing the site from 1883. The remained in operation until the 1990s. In 1998 AGL, after a tender process, selected Rosecorp Pty. Ltd. to progressively acquire and develop the Mortlake site. The New South Wales State Government took control of the approval process for the development from Canada Bay Council in August 2005, citing lengthy delays. Issues that arose between the council and the developer, Rosecorp, included the provision of public transport, public access to the area and its landscaping. The Breakfast Point estate also has its own little town centre with a supermarket, restaurant, pizzeria, two clothing shops, hairdresser, dentist, optometrist, etc. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakfast_Point,_New_South_Wales )
Englargement around the Village Green. This was a former dam for the gasworks and is believed to have been where the contaminated materials were disposed of into during site remediation - then sealed over with concrete and clay, finally topped with the oval. At the lower right is the "Country Club".
THE SCOPE OF INFORMATION GATHERING TO DATE
Breakfast Point is part, a very major part, of the general history of major changes affecting the Mortlake area.
I began collecting information and researching history at Mortlake in 2010. Some of the earliest "locals" contacted were the local Councillors. These were writing to looking for any views on the massive development that had been ongoing at Mortlake, or anything else of interest. And at that time I began asking Councillors and any others contacted if they knew of anybody else interested in that area's past apart from myself and Mr Blaxell (a yatchsman who is well-known as generally interested in history all along the Parramatta River, and who has published a book on the river). Unfortunately nothing came from this initially, apart from various published statements by the Mayor (most of which I have probably found by now). Some of the replies early received were along lines similar to "it's all before my time". Many months later, in late 2011, Councillors were again checked with to enquire if anything had changed, or if anyone else interested in the changes to the area was yet known of?
Breakfast Point, the re-development of the Mortlake gasworks, it the major redevelopment site at Mortlake but various other nearby re-developments have also taken place, and/or were in consideration in 2011. One in particular was, in 2011, a development proposal to build a further 402 units at Mortlake. As at late October I was still endeavouring to learn who the developer for this was, and what the project name was (another Part 3A project, such as Breakfast Point had become during the history of that development).
The work for this current 'first phase' of compilation has covered all history of the area up till early 2011 and has at least perused all findable material that is known to be locally held (Concord-Mortlake district). It has also looked for any other interested persons in that district (but found none). Material relevant to the place (Mortlake or the younger named 'Breakfast Point') is known to exist outside the district in considerable amount; however any attempt to access that was set aside till some later date. The source of the underlying 'philosophies' of urban development/planning have been sought outside the district, since things like "new suburbia" are not concepts that first arose at Mortlake.
It was intended that 'phase 1' of the present compilation (which is all that has so far been completed) would be a search for local records and for anyone locally interested in the history of the place. Nobody else specifically interested in pursuing the history of the area was found (and Council advised that it knew of nobody), however there is considerable information that has been locally stored (by Concord Library and Concord Historical Socieyt [later Canada Bay Heritage Society] and this was perused through.
This file/swebpage was compiled in late 2010 to early 2011 from sources on the internet or in the Concord-Mortlake area itself. Particular effort was made to find anyone at Breakfast Point or immediate vicinity. Nobody could be found there with any interest in the history of the place, although residents were found with strong interest in the present and future of it, particularly in opposition to deemed over-development in the shape of a proposed marina. With strong resident opposition at Breakfast Point, and even stronger and growing State-wide opposition to the entirety of the Part 3A State approval process, the marina proposal was eventually rejected. The marina opposition was the main thing on everyone's mind amongst those contacted. The only exception, pertaining to the past, was that one person told me that under the Village Green sat a "massive" amount of contaminated waste from the gasworks site "capped with concrete". That may be true but subsequent enquiry about that indicated the waste soil would have been capped with clay, not concrete. By and large the scope of enquiry was kept to the local distiry. It is known that significant records should be in other places which would add to knowledge of the area, however for reasons of time this was purposefully left till "latter" to follow up on. The main exception to keeping the enqjuiry at first pass to local souces was in seeking to find Rosemary Broomham. This was because she had been the historian for the gas company itself. Rosemary has written or, or is knowledgeable on, all of the Sydney's several waterfront gasworks. These had been at City of Sydney (Millers Point, Darling Harbour - the later site of Barangaroo), Balmain, Five Dock, Mortlake, Parramatta, Manly, Neutral Bay and Oyster Cove. For Mortlake, Rosemary had written at least three historical articles (" Our works at Mortlake 1886-1982", 1983; " Mortlake 1886-1986: 100 Years of Service to the Community", 1986; and " First Light: 150 Years of Gas. Hale and Iremonger, Sydney" 1987). Thus it was sought to contact Rosemary throughout the later 2010-early 2011 compilation period and places where she might have previously worked contacted etc., but to no avail. I was however informed that she remained very interested in the subject of gasworks, hence the search may be resumed in the intended next phase of this work - to look for sources residing outside of Concord-Mortlake. When it is time to go outside the local district one know-of major source is, of course the AGL Archives themselves. That is known to comprise records of AGL and associated companies, including many historic photographs ca1880-1990s (6,000 indexed); the works plans ca 1870s-1980s (1500 indexed); newspaper cuttings (apparently 4 shelf metres?), etc. It may not be absolutely complete in one place since it is also known that early Board Minutes and various other pre-1921 records were transferred to the State Library of NSW, Mitchell Library (copies might have been maintained in the company Archives?). Previously the AGL Archives had resided at Mortlake and were cared for the company "Historian", believed to have been Rosemary Broomham.
"A sense of place, a feeling of belonging .."
HETEROTOPIA AND VARIOUS THOUGHTS ON THE NEW AND THE OLD
The fall of the great Mortlake Gas Works
and the rise of a "model suburb", the very
modern but neo-old Breakfast Point.
This webpage looks both backwards to vanished spirit or nature of place, and forwards at
new ways a "sense of place" can be commercially constructed, using as an example
the ROSECORP vision of "NEW SUBURBIA" embodied at Breakfast Point.
Breakfast Point embodies "A sense of place, a feeling of belonging" (Rosecorp, 2004). "The work that I would like to think our family will leave on developments such as Breakfast Point and Cape Cabarita is a timeless elegance in the design of the buildings and a continuing sense of community spirit among those who will live there" - Bob Rose , 2002.
“Place” is not a theory, it is the starting point from which all design for built environments should begin. It presumes free-will, a desire to understand and a search for meaning. All other theories, philosophies, practicalities, economies and personal opinions take over from there." - Architect Cory Cory Stechyshyn who made a study of human sense of place, 2005.
And related ideas of decay, demolition and rejuvenation in the works of man -
such as will "NEW SUBURBIA" become "TOMORROW'S HERITAGE".
"Soon it will be impossible for the residents of the recently christened suburb of Breakfast Point to imagine this chapter
of Australia's history." ( i.e. gas-making ) - artist Jane Bennett, 2005. Jane decided to do a major series of paintings
to commemorate the site. (Solo Exhibition on March 7-15, 2005, at the Community Hall, Breakfast Point).
Briefly surveying one means to today's gracious luxury living - by industrial site redevelopment .
PLUS hopefully serving in some way as a beginner's look at the history of gas-making.
Some form of industrial heritage local remembrance is recommended.
Breakfast Point is not suburban 'utopia' but arguably might be the nearest thing we have to it? it is certainly a shining light in Sydney's Inner West and is widely regarded as one of the best modern housing developments in all of Australia. It is not utopian but rather what has been called heterotopian - a mixture, and the best possible that could be achieved considering all the contraints on the developer. They gave the place an attractive new name (Breakfast Point) rather than something unimaginative like the Mortlake Gasworks housing estate. But the cake they baked was not on a one hundred percent clean slate. It has a few incongruous of contrasting currents studded through it from the past - grey old buildings amongst the modern white, unable to be all simply demolished and swept away, because of Heritage constraints. How Heritage was dealt with there is just one of many interesting themes to follow in place study of Breakfast Point. Other interesting themes are social ones, such as the attempts to built new identity, new community spirit, and a new (neo-old in this case) sense of place - and how ownership issues may change over time (from near-100% developer control over the entire estate of mini-suburb to control by bodies of residents). There is also the dilemma, common to almost everywhere - that people are initially attracted to nice areas but then later on get worried that further high density influx will degrade the place and overtax infra-structure. For example, a resident Mr Charles Zammit submitted in response to the request for additional dwellings expressed in the Concept Plan (after the State Government took over planning approval) that: "My family (I am one of 10 brothers) have lived in Concord for over 35 years. We moved here as at the time the area was established and seemed like a nice place to live .... it was a sad day when they removed the AGL site and the old Dulux Factory. Having them there was more preferable than all the additional homes which are stretching the limited resources of the area". That is written by a nearby resident, but even some of the earlier residents within Breakfast Point development itself came to regard the subsequent evolution of the mini-suburb as unwelcome ("over-development"). This mood peaked in 2010 when a marina or berthing facilities they'd presumed were to be just for themselves was put up as a DA for a much larger commerical development to serve and draw custom from the entire Inner West of Sydney ("Inner West Marina" proposal for Kendall Bay) .
This webpage is both about compiling what has happened at one place in Sydney's "Inner West" on the southern side of the Parramatta River - and also a commentary about the difficulties that may be encountered when trying to find "where are the records" about what has happened.
An effort has been made to enquire what locals, such as Councillors, estate residents at Breakfast Point, or others living nearby, think of the matters discussed herein. To date that part of enquires made has had but little yield. So far the varied information herein has been collected and compiled largely from three sources - "off the internet"; from the collection of the Concord (later Canada Bay) historical society; and from the public libraries (commencing with the new library at Wellbank Street, Concord). Local studies Librarian David Sansome (City of Canada Bay library service) very kindly assisted and encouraged me with this (as also with my potential broader study of the area's industries that is looking for the specifics of how the chemical industries in particular may have once interacted). The artist Jane Bennett, whose work is indeed one of the best 'memorialisations' possible of the all the dead and dying industries around Sydney, kindly offered that she would assist in any way possible. Some of Jane's work is shown and discussed herein. An equally generous offer of assistance came from one of the world's foremost, probably "the" foremost, knowledge-holders on the world's old gasworks sites and their remediation. This is geologist Allen Hatheway, who offered any assistance he could provide for better understanding the industrial past of this area in so far as the gasworks is concerned. The National Trust (NSW Branch) supplied notes on old equipment at the gas works (as formerly seen there in the Powehouse). The writer is very grateful for such actual assistance and some other offers of assistance not yet fully availed of. Some of this might be further prevailed upon if any attempt progresses to understand the interactions of the former industries hereabouts. Finding others interesting in sharing information on the past of the chemical industries would encourage/facilitate getting the broader picture on how industries interacted. During the current work for this webpage, however, all enquiries as to whether anyone else was known to have similar interests failed to indentify anyone else who does (... however, such potential information sources as chemical societies and known chemical industry historians have not as yet been contacted about this).
SOURCES: Listed herein is a guide to AGL in-house publications (which might be perused for information) but they have not all actually been seen. Nothing has been worked through truly systematically and what is herein is what has come to writer in piecemeal unplanned manner, mostly by browsing at libraries, the local historical society or off the webb. A small amount of time has been spent in asking locals, especially Councillors, what they think or know about Breakfast Point. In that regard, an overall 'know nothing' (and/or 'before my time') result from councillors was disappointing, as was the fact that no response whatsover from writing to the Mayor was ever obtained (not yet anyway, as this should not be given up on). The matters involved are no doubt complex the and minimalist response by some people perhaps doesn't really mean that they know absolutely nothing - so much as they are not moved to begin trying to express it all. For that reason some repeated queries to councillors (and other locals) are being kept in mind. Why the councillors of this area might be expected to have a few thoughts about development, or know something, is because not only are the massive Rosecorp developments (Breakfast Point and Cabarita) in their municipality but also the 'even more massive' developments that have been going on at the Homebush Bay eastern waterfront, at Rhodes.
THE DECLINE OF CERTAIN MANUFACTURING INDUSTRY IN THE 'WEST" - IT ALL BEGINS WITH OIL?
A 1970s rise of interest in the seemingly accelerating loss of old buildings and historical sites can be detected to have happened in both the UK and Australia (the USA not yet compared); and hence it can be wondered if there is a common cause. At least for the case of industrial sites becoming obsolete and disused one can look to underlying economic change. And arguably the biggest change that may have started widespread manufacturing industry decline is the oil shocks of the 1970s. As oil is profoundly connected with economy, and economy with politics, we can just about say that all things are connected - and that a possible oil price change cause deserves consideration.
Oil price graph showing the 1973-1986 price bulge that had huge effects on Western economies.
For method of compilation see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Oil_Prices_1861_2007.svg
Not only along the shores of the Parramatta River has manufacturing industry been in marked decline.
In 1999, the Newcastle steelworks, one of the greatest and most famous heavy industry sites of Australia closed after 84 years operation. It had employed about 50,000 during its existence, many for decades. Its closure was a shock to the nation but not unexpected as everywhere the decline of heavy industry had been noteworthy for decades.
The slow creeping decline and death of manufacturing industry in the West is rightly or wrongly attributed by many who take an interest in economic history to the "oil shocks" of the 1970. The 1973 "oil price shock" followed by the 1973–1974 stock market crash have been regarded as the first event since the Great Depression to have a persistent ongoing economic and political effects. In America and Britain particularly there began the rise or re-rise of a conservative liberalism (neo-liberalism, a.k.a. economic rationalism) which within three years would become the dominant politico-economic paradigm throughout the west, adhered to be all major parties whether 'right' (which always favoured similar) or nominally 'left' (whose leaders were 'converted' to the new thinking). This rapidly gained strong influence in the United Nations and International Monetary Fund and within a year of the 1973 oil embargo the nonaligned bloc in the UN had passed a resolution demanding the creation of the "new international economic order" which would encourage free trade (in which "resources, trade, and markets would be distributed more equitably"). With the lowering or abolition of tariff protections and other influences of the "new order", Western manufacturing industries became less and less competitive and withered away.
In 2010 the last of once-100 furnaces went out at Teesside, the English area where Captain Cook (discoverer of Australia) was born, and which had sent the steel to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
This is a general background to the decline of secondary industries not only along the Parramatta River but right across Australia and in other Western countries. For the Parramatta River frontage an added factor is rising land value and the pressures that put on industrie to vaccates. Thirdly, on Mortlake there is the added factor of the rise of natural gas usage - another global trend.
Natural gas is consists primarily of methane, typically with 0-20% higher hydrocarbons (primarily ethane). Town or manufactured gas is a mixture of methane and other gases, including the highly toxic carbon monoxide. During the 1950s in the UK the use of gas increased greatly, with British Gas creating high street showrooms to promote the use of gas. the 1960s the UK was importing 300,000 tons of liquefied natural gas from Africa every year but surveys in the North Sea found there were there were huge reserves of natural gas there. In 1966 the decision was taken to convert the UK from town gas to natural gas. The next year the first natural gas from the North Sea had arrived. Over the next 10 years British Gas carried out a massive conversion programme, converting appliances from town gas to natural gas and converting or closing former gas works.
Happenings in Australia ran parallel as in the UK regarding the change to natural gas. The Moomba field was established in the 1960s and 70s after discovery of gas and, later, oil in the region. A liquefied gas pipeline was commenced in 1969 to runs 832 kilometres south and deliver gas to Adelaide. Other pipelines followed to other parts of Australia. The pipeline to Sydney, stretching over 1,160 km, was commenced in 1971 and completed in 1976. A second pipe for ethane was later laid along the same route and completed in 1996. At Moomba the incoming raw gas stream initially has water and carbon dioxide removed. Next a liquids recovery plant extracts valuable condensate, ethane and LPG from the gas stream. Then the resultant sales gas is piped to users, principally the Sydney and Adelaide markets. The separated gas liquids as well as the stabilised crude oil from oil fields in the region are directed into a liquids pipeline that goes to a fractionation plant established at Port Bonython on Spencer Gulf.
From these timings it may be seen that as early as the 70s industrial decline was predictable, and in particular it was known that natural gas conversion was on the way - which meant the end of major city gas works.
The first of the would-be industrial land conversions along the Parramatta River to attract strong attention was at Kellys Bush, Hunters Hill. This became a site of protest against the development by local residents and then a green ban was placed on the work. Green bans were a creation of the 1970s - by the then Builers Labourers Federation (BLF). Green bans were not instigated unilaterally by the BLF, but at the request of, and in support of, residents' groups. The first green ban was put in place to protect Kelly's Bush, and came in support of a group of local women who had already appealed unsuccessfully to the local council, mayor, and the Premier of New South Wales. They then approached the BLF for help. The BLF asked the women to call a public meeting, which was attended by 600 residents, and formally asked the BLF to prevent construction on the site. The developer, A V Jennings, announced that they would use non-union labour. In response, BLF members on other A V Jennings construction projects stopped work. A V Jennings eventually abandoned all plans to develop Kelly's Bush. The BLF was involved in many more green bans, with forty-two such bans imposed between 1971 and 1974. Green bans helped to protect historic nineteenth century buildings in The Rocks from being demolished to make way for office towers, and possibly prevented the Royal Botanic Gardens from being turned into a carpark for Sydney's opera house. The green bans were stopped in 1974 by the union's federal leadership under Norm Gallagher. This was probably politically machinated as Gallagher was later jailed for taking bribes from developers (Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_ban ).
The earliest indications I have yet found of professional historians (esp. the specialists in economic history) and industrial archaeologists, as well as those interested in industrial architecture and 'relics' (e.g. National Trust) developing a keen awareness of what lay ahead is in the later 1970s. The work of academics at Sydney University in the 1970s shows some sense of actual or looming 'crisis' in industrial archaeology and historical recording due to the accelerating or expected accelerating of demolitions and land use conversions to housing or other uses. In 1979 in particular, some organised an important conference covering such things, and an exhibition was held at Macleay Museum, and a book published, covering Sydney's past and archaeological research.
Thus awareness has been growing since the 70s of various deficiences in gathering history, recovering what's lost to some degree (archaeology), and recognising/preserving what's not yet lost (heritage).
Presumably someone, somewhere, has also considered what governments could do more broadly and comprehensively to proactively protect and gather history - but if so then nothing like this has been come upon in readings to date. Some of the planning failures to take any action are noteworthy - for example neither the "State Plan" and the "Sydney Metropolitan Strategy" have any direct consideration of European/built heritage contained within their respective areas. Suggestions to municipal councils to formally and systematically plan to better know their past have, so far as is known, all been ignored to date. The "Inner West Subregion - Draft Subregional Strategy" has acknowledged that the "heritage value of the subregion contributes to its rich character" and specifically mentions the industrial waterfront heritage as being important. The Canada Bay Council acknowledges that its role in respect to the the Draft Subregional Strategy should include:
• Review and/or update heritage studies as part of reviewing/updating the Principal LEP.
• Work with the Department of Planning to develop an approach to manage conservation areas whilst achieving growth targets.
• Refer to "NSW Government Design in Context: Guidelines for Infill Development in the Historic Environment (2005)" for Development Control Plans.
• Manage infill development in the historic environment to provide high quality outcomes that connect new development with local character.
• Work with Department of Planning to identify areas to promote and provide access to heritage places, contribute to local economies and assist in sustaining heritage places.
• Work with the Department of Planning to develop integrated heritage tourism strategies (IW E6.3.1);
• Integrate heritage initiatives and programs into Local Plans as appropriate to interpret and celebrate local heritage places.
In respect to place and "local character", what 'place' and historic 'character' might mean are considered at some length herein.
The Canada Bay Local Environmental Plan 2008 included a review of the extent of the listing of heritage items on land that had been subdivided and/or redeveloped. Since the former Concord and Drummoyne LGAs were amalgamated, there has been no work done to undertake a heritage study review of the whole of the City of Canada Bay area. a review of existing heritage items and potential new heritage items is needed. This review would assess heritage items in the light of changes that have been made since the previous heritage studies were reviewed 10 years ago or more. The lack of council mechanisms in place to continuously update on heritage matters and issues is a serious disadvantage, not only for Canada Bay council but probably for most councils in NSW.
WAYS FOR GATHERING HISTORY, MEMORIALISING PLACES, CONNECTING PAST AND PRESENT
This section further considers how or why the decline and abandonment of industry along the Parramatta River might have been sensed as inevitable even as early as the 1970s.
Given that precognition of the end of so much industry was arguably not too difficult, what evidence is there of forethought or proactive planning for gathering history and catering for heritage matters? So far the writer has read evidence of forethought and concern at Sydney University (and its Macleay Museum), and at the Technological Museum (later Powerhouse Museum) and within National Trust. However no discussion of ideas for proactive government action to better secure history and heritage in a more comprehensive planned manner were present in that.
This writer began work at a museum (Geological and Mining Museum at the Rocks, Sydney) in the 1970s and soon came to realise that the longer things were left to collect the documents, products and artefacts of an industry then the more meagre and incomplete would be the result. Although first thought about for the mining industry (e.g. the museum used to write to operating mines to seek specimens of ores and minerals) the principle applies to anything. Ideally (using the mining industry again) a plan of operation should exist that includes recording and memorialising the operation before any licence to operate is given.
Thus cradle-to-grave planning prior to licensing, including a priori means of adjusting those plans during operation could be an example of pro-active history gathering. The final stage in the case of a mine would be Mine Closure Plan or similar. Such should be attended to and reviewed more and more as the actual termination time approaches - to ensure that the history and place/plant/operation records are all as complete as desirable. This is along with numerous other requirements, many of them related to safety and site 'restoration' (also called rehabilitation, remediation etc.).
Industry/commerce understandably may resent or resist any extra demands on it. In the case of mining, better recording can feasibly assist future exploration to find more mineral deposits - and exploration indeed does make very extensive use of old knowledge and records. In the case of secondary industry, such as gasworks, such obvious "for the industry's own benefit" justification for 'keeping history' may not exist, yet there are many other known arguments for keeping history.
Site operations are often known to be heading towards termination years and years before they finally do terminate - potentially allowing lots of time for proactive history gathering - and thoughts of preserving artefacts or giving them away to responsible repositories and so on.
The writer has studied the history of many mines and quarries in NSW, and has made his biggest study of this sort of thing for the case of sand and gravel extraction near Penrith. This has gone on near Penrith for over a century and is nowadays leading to the deep open-cut removal, down to bedrock at about 15m, of most of the loamy-alluvial (and deeper river gravel sheet) 'suburb' of Upper Castlereagh. Most of the extraction has now occurred although the operation still has some years of further life. It has become the "largest sand and gravel quarry in Australia".
The case of gathering the past of Upper Castlereagh, and proactively, is thus a good example for this sort of thinking .. BUT, actually 'who' (besides this writer - maybe sole voice in the wilderness?) does think that way. The local Council certainly does not and head of planning there has said their only interest there is in the future, not in the past.
Why is that? On the surface it seems strange - why would a council not be vitally interested in a big chunk of its own past? The answer to that flows from a planning law amendment in New South Wales that stripped away the powers of councils away in the case of large developments (at first only those deemed State significant economically - but over time more and more lesser development have been let slip, under application, into such exempt from local control category). Hence a council may explain its 'lack of interest' as being because "it's none of our business - the State took such-and-such area/development away from us".
In these cases taken out of local government control one must then look to the NSW Planning Department for any hopes that gathering history could be included in the masterplan. There certainly always is a masterplan for all big developments but generally one looks there in vain. The NSW Planning Department has almost no sense of 'geological and mining history' or of its importance, and in the case of geology it has a very poor understanding of that science. Thus one is unlikely to find any overview or proactive moves related to gathering natural/quarrying history arise from there. In other respects, such as for the life sciences (animals, birds, fish, ecology etc.) the State planning and Masterplan for a project like the Upper Castlereagh quarrying can be exceptionally good, however. The end product for that project is to be the Penrith Lakes - a series of magnificent lakes composed of water filling the holes after quarrying, which can be used for recreational purposes, perhaps some nature reserves and so on (the exact details and intended future ownership and management still being un-announced).
So that is the case of Upper Castlereagh - project termination and final outcome has been State-planned for many years, and yet systematic thinking on any overall plan to proactively gather the history of that relatively small area (before all the operating companies depart and possibly disperse or destroy their records) is nowhere evident to either enquiry on such to the Planning ministry or via perusal of the mountainous planning document that do already exist in relation to the place.
Being familiar with the examples of Upper Castlereagh and various other places for some time, the writer only began to look into what has been the parallel story for Mortlake gasworks in late 2010. At present very little is known about the role of the local council in this but this too has been a case where the development has been largely taken out of the realm of local decision-making and vested with the Minister for Planning.
Many of the matters involving the decline in industries and redevelopments of land have their roots in the 1970s and what began happening in NSW could be seen by those interested as happening elsewhere too, in the UK or all over the English speaking world. Following the 70s oil shocks a massive restructuring took place in the British steel industry. Where there had once been 100 blast furnaces along the Tees River valley the myriad 'Teesside' ironworks were reduced to just one furnace (albeit of much larger capacity than ever before). Sydney has a strong connection with Teesside - Captain Cook was born there as so was the Sydney Harbour Bridge. So when Teesside industry began to decline, and also the local council paid scant regard to preserving industrial heritage there were people (at Sydney University and Macleay Museum for example) who, as we can tell from their writings, were well aware of it. It could well have been foreseen in the 1970s that industry along the Parramatta River would decline as along the Tees River. Also in the 1970s it should have been evident that the great gas works at Mortlake (and likely those elsewhere in Sydney) would 'soon' cease since natural gas was known to be on the way - this also being a worldwide trend.
Poem by Ian Horn, in praise of Middlesbrough ’s mighty industrial past.
As has long been the case, the resources available (if any at all) to those wishing to preserve industrial buildings or sites solely on the basis of their historical and technological merit, are far short of those needed to conserve even a representative sample of the total number.
Groups concerned with industrial heritage and archaeology increased sharply in the 1970s both in the UK and in Australia, with roots in the 1960s in some places. In London the Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society was founded one afternoon in 1968 by a tea meeting of two engineers and a locomotive driver, concerned that sites were vanishing and might be lost without trace. It grew to having over 600 members, which made it the industrial archaeology society in the UK. In 1973 the UK Association for Industrial Archaeology was formed along with the first international organization for the conservation of industrial monuments. Formation of an Australian Society for Historical Archaeology followed. In 1975 the Australian Heritage Commission Act was passed following a Commission of Inquiry into the National Estate. This Act established the identification (and some meagre protection) for listed items of both built and natural heritage. The NSW Government passed the NSW Heritage Act in 1979, and the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
In the 1970s the NSW National Trust began making a list of NSW industrial sites and this had reached 1,600 by 1978. The Trust is the first body known to have taken an interest in the history/heritage of the Mortlake gasworks apart (possibly) from the company itself - company personnel had put aside a collection of interesting tools or 'relics' (at one time kept in the Blacksmith's Workshop apparently). The National Trust did a classification report on the gasworks in 1975, apparently after the site was proposed for heritage listing by B. Little on 15/10/1975 (full National Trust records not sighted). From its inspection, Trust recorded the machinery then in the Powerhouse and thought it impressive (of more interest at the time than the building itself). It recorded details of seven engines in the building (current whereabouts unknown). Connected with the National Trust being the first known body to have become interested in the Mortlake gasworks heritage it may be noted that Don Godden who did much of the early paid heritage work there as a heritage consultant is a 30+ year member of the Trust and has been active on their Industrial Archaeology Committee; as well as an alternate member of the Heritage Council of NSW. Donald became a Board member of the National Trust (NSW) in 2006 and later Vice President. He may be contacted at email@example.com
Donald M. Godden - who was a major initial heritage consultant on Mortlake, e.g. via Godden and Associates, 1989.
Prior to the 1970s there is little interest in industrial archaeology or history that has been found by the current compiler to date. In the 1970s a strong discipline of Historical Archaeology began to be established at the University of Sydney, lead by Judy Birmingham. One of the supports for this was a need for the students in Near Eastern Archaeology program to gain practical experience in excavation and artefact processing. Initially, Historical Archaeology was taught, then a later off-shoot was Heritage Studies. There was a strong focus on "Archaeology of Sydney"
Also in the 1970s there arose the Australian Society for Historical Archaeology (founded by Judy Birmingham, then a lecturer at Sydney University) and various seminars and conferences and books arose about the conserving history and heritage in the face of accelerating demolitions. Events of the year 1979 and the writings at that time by John Wade of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences will be examined here. Also in the 70s R. Jack was an Associate Professor of History at Sydney Uni and Mrs Sybil M. Jack was a Senior Tutor in Economic History (Facultry of Economics, Sydney Uni - and later on Associate Professor in History in the 1990s). Sybil got interested in industrial archaeology and one of her writings, in 1979, makes known how the determination of the local councils to demolish the past was obliterating much of industrial Britain at that time. Particularly cited was the Teesside area (Middlesbrough): "On Teesside, for example, the local government authorities are of the opinion that the sooner all trace of the dismal past can be wiped from the face of the city the better. Not only is the ironmasters district flattened, but a single remaining jobbing foundry with some possibly unique steam driven cranes is likely to be demolished in the near future despite the protests of the very dedicated local industrial archaeology groups".
Thus the fate of industrial buildings in Teesside/Middlebrough, a great English steel and iron centre became one of the early alarm bells that rang in Sydney in the 70s - the bell of Middlebrough decline rang out that this could (indeed will?) happen in New South Wales too (where we have/had such great steel and coal centres - Newcastle and Wollongong). And likewise between the Tees and Parramatta Rivers there might, could, would happen a similar decline for the chemical industries?
Captain James Cook, well known to all Australians, was born in Marton, now a suburb in the south-east of Middlesbrough.
( More Cook information - http://www.captcook-ne.co.uk/ccne/textonly/ne-marton.htm )
Inscription reads "This Granite Vase was erected by H.W.F.Bolckow of Marton Hall, A.D.1858, to mark the site of the cottage in which Captain James Cook, the World Circumnavigator was born, 27th October, 1728”. This was within what was then the grounds of his own residence, Marton Hall, l (demolished in 1960 with only a surviving stone colonnade left as a sign as to its former existence). (Photo: John Yeadon )
Cook was born in the village of Marton, now a suburb of Middlesborough. He was baptised in the local church of St. Cuthbert, where his name can be seen in the church register. Cook was the second of eight children of James Cook, a Scottish farm labourer, and his locally born wife, Grace Pace from Thornaby-on-Tees. Cook was killed by natives during his career of sailing around discovering and mapping and doing other things for the Royal Navy. When the news of Cook’s death reached England the site of his birthplace cottage at Marton, Middlesbrough, became one of the most important mementoes of Cook’s life. Although the building itself was flimsy and quickly fell into disrepair after abandonment by the last occupants, some local people kept its significance and Cook’s memory alive by marking its location. The remains of the cottage were removed by the Rudd family, the new owners of the estate, as part of their redevelopment of East Marton village - but not before being recorded by the George Cuit in about 1788 as shown below:
View of the remains of the clay-built cottage where the Cooks lived at East Marton - Drawn about 1788.
(Pen & ink by George Cuit [1743-1818] - now at Wakefield Art Gallery )
Bartholomew Rudd purchased the Marton estate in 1786 and cleared East Marton village to make way for his new house, Marton Lodge, and its grounds. This involved removing the remains of Cook’s birthplace but Rudd honoured the historical importance of the cottage by marking it outline as a quadrangle of flint stones left in the courtyard of the stable block of his new home "Marton Lodge". Marton Lodge burned down in 1832 and the estate was neglected until it was purchased by Henry Bolckow in 1853. Bolckow removed the remains of the buildings and yards associated with the Lodge, including the flint cobbles marking the site of Cook’s birthplace but put up a granite urn memorial to the Cook cottage. Bocklow build a new grand new mansion there, called Marton Hall, which was demolished in 1960.
It is interesting also to check "Have things improved" for Middlesbrough, in regard to heritage sensitivity? Or do the local government authorities still maintain the that the sooner all trace of the dismal past can be wiped from the face of the city the better?
Unfortunately it would seem that the "almost system
atic destruction of Middlesbrough’s architectural heritage" has been continuing.
On that, Google can find us the words and opinions of various citizens over there, and here they are:
John Laville (2009) remembered: "I worked in the Exchange as an apprentice Draughtsman for Dorman Long in 1959. The main central engineering department was located in the large central space which was packed with draughtsmen".
The Royal Exchange building - now a "lost industrial jewel" of Middlesbrough. Demolished - "For me this remains a crime against
Middlesbroughand Teesside" (Blog "Lost Teesside")
And another within the Blog "Lost Teesside" says: "Overall it was a big, strong, solid building as befitting the most important business focal point of the whole town. Actually in its heyday the Royal Exchange was once one of the most important trading centres in the world. When
Middlesbroughiron and steel was exported round the globe this was atthe heart of the trading transactions. Therefore it had to be imposing and the Victorians certainly knew how to turn their hand to make a mighty fortress of a building ..... My memories are of a dark brooding goli ath of a building. It had become empty and neglected in 1970s as the shadow of the planned Northern Routeproposal hung over it. I think there were even paper proposals to sell the building for a few quid. But they were empty gestures to plac ate many townspeople horrified atthe neglect of a landmark building. The whole area went into seemingly terminal decline. The bus st ation finally closed and the demolition crews moved in in 1985. For me this remains a crime against Middlesbroughand Teesside. Such a proud part of our history sacrificed for a road th atsurely could have been more sensitively redirected. I was really lucky enough to be in the right place atthe right time when a party was invited to have a last look inside before demolition. Although neglected and dilapid ated I was still struck by the scale and the Victorian grandeur of the trading halls. Most of my photos show the exchange halls, note the still orn ate ceilings and the details on the walls. Get a feel of the scale. It was still possible to imagine the buzz of commerce as steel was bought and sold around the Empire. Wh ata crying shame possibly Middlesbroughand Teesside’s most important Victorian building was torn down for a road th atdivided the town in two."
( Source: Lost Teesside - http://fansonline.net/middlesbrough/lost_teesside )
Last surviving bits of the Middleborough Royal Exchange building today. The whole facade had been removed and taken
to a council depot but on the demise of that council (Cleveland County Council) it was mostly put into skips and dumped.
More of the demolished buildings of Middlesborough - St Hilda's church (above left) and St Paul's (above right),
and below is remnant (portico) of the 1864 infirmary. All considered flawed, and demolished.
The infirmary donated by Ironmaster Henry Bolckow in 1864 was demolished in late 2006 to make way for a "much needed Aldi and Travelodge (ahem)" [Source: http://www.hidden-teesside.co.uk/category/middlesbrough-heritage ]
Re the vanished`church: "Much to my dismay I discovered th
atthe building had been demolished after years of neglect and having suffered vandalism and arson attacks. At th attime, unaware of the almost system atic destruction of Middlesbrough’s architectural heritage which has been going on for some decades, I was astonished th atthe town’s parish church had been allowed to disappear" by 'Ladyinred' at http://fansonline.net/middlesbrough/lost_teesside
This was the Infirmary. Why was it demolished? Is having one more new Aldi supermarket all that important?
"Happy Birthday Mr. Bolckow ! - love from modern Middlesbrough XXX" -
Milddlesborough or "Ironopolis" (nickname) is a borough of northeast England (North Yorkshire) at the mouth of the Tees River. It has iron, steel, and chemical works. Population: 142,000.
It boomed after 1830 with the arrival of the railway to the site of a new coal-exporting port. Its development was further fostered by the development of steelworks, using the local ironstone as ore.
In 1801 Middlesbrough was just a hamlet, with a population of just 25 people living in four farmhouses. During the latter half of the 19th century, however, it experienced a growth unparalleled in England. Development began with the purchase of the farm in 1829 by a group of Quaker businessmen to build a port for the transport of northeast coal.
A small Middlesbrough Ironworks was opened in 1837, but the monks of Rievaulx Abbey were making steel from Cleveland ironstone back in the 16th Century.
Another great leap forward took place using the ironstone in the Eston Hills, after 1850. In 1850 iron ore was discovered in the Cleveland Hills near Eston to the south of Middlesbrough and iron gradually replaced coal as the lifeblood of the town. The ore was discovered by John Vaughan, the principal ironmaster of Middlesbrough who along with his German business partner Henry Bolckow had already established the small iron foundry and rolling mill at Middlesbrough using iron stone from Durham and the Yorkshire coast. The new discovery of iron ore on their doorstep prompted them to build Teesside's first blast furnace in 1851. Bolckow became mayor in 1853 and Middlesbrough's first Member of Parliament.
The Bell brothers opened their great ironworks on the banks of the Tess in 1853. Steel production began at Port Clarence in 1889 and an amalgamation with Dorman Long followed. After rock salt was discovered at depth 1874, a salt-extraction industry on Teesside was also founded. By then Bell Brothers had become a vast concern employing some 6,000 people.
By the end of the century Teesside was producing about a third of the nation's iron output. The development of Middlesbrough as an 'Iron Town' spurred on its continuous growth and by 1860 its population had increased to incredible 20,000.
By the 1870s, steel, a much stronger and more resilient metal was in big demand and Middlesbrough had to compete with Sheffield. In 1875 Bolckow and Vaughan opened the first Bessemer Steel plant in Middlesbrough. At first phosphorous ores had to be imported from Spain for the making of the steel, but by 1879 methods were developed which could use local iron ores. The Tees was destined to become 'the Steel River'.
In 1881 one commentator described how the ironstone of the Eston Hills processed at Middlesbrough, had been used in the building of structures throughout the world: "The iron of Eston has diffused itself all over the world. It furnishes the railways of the world; it runs by Neapolitan and papal dungeons; it startles the bandit in his haunt in Cicilia; it crosses over the plains of Africa; it stretches over the plains of India. It has crept out of the Cleveland Hills where it has slept since Roman days, and now like a strong and invincible serpent, coils itself around the orld" - Sir H.G Reid.
For many years in the 19th century Teesside set the world price for iron and steel. The steel components of the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932) were engineered and fabricated by Dorman Long of Middlesbrough. The the words MADE IN MIDDLESBROUGH are stamped on the Bridge.
The great steelworks, chemical plants, shipbuilding and offshore fabrication yards that followed the original Middlesbrough ironworks, contributed to Britain's prosperity in no small measure. At the height of the Teesside steel boom, there were 100 blast furnaces along the River Tees and steelworks were employing over 40,000 people. However, after 1967 only one furnace was operating. In 1999, British Steel merged with Dutch company Hoogevens to become Corus. Hundreds of workers took voluntary redundancy or early retirement, while thousands more were made redundant over the years. By 2003 Corus was losing hundreds of millions of pounds annually and in 2007 it was bought by the Indian company, Tata. The Teesside's furnaces finally went cold for the first time in 160 years in December 2010, putting another 1,600 out of work. The works were losing more than $520m a year and could not continue.
The district in England and Wales with the lowest healthy life expectancy, according to the Office for National Statistics study, is Middlehaven, the dockside area of Middlesbrough, which is currently undergoing major regeneration and will soon become a flagship regeneration project in the UK, with plans from the architect Will Alsop. Will's plans are seen here:
"Riverside One" at Middlehaven project - modern magic and 'daring' design, or modern montrosity? This development around waterfront land at the former Middlesbrough docks will include 750 homes, office space, a large hotel, etc. It is promoted as a "a dramatic leap forward for regeneration in the UK" with a "collection of iconic structures conceived by the most talented and creative architects working today". The national regeneration agency owns the land.
On the broad topic of "Collecting Sydney's History" a good review is given by John Wade in a book "10,000 years of Sydney Life" that was published by the Macleay Museum in 1979. This book was published in conjunction with the Macleay Museum putting on that year a special exhibition entitled "Sydney Unearthed". The book discusses old roads, graves, archaeology and architecture, past environments, Aboriginal rock engravings, doing "crisis" archaeology (last minute salvage work), local listing of interesting old sites ('Recording to Some Purpose' by Judy Birmingham), and 'Collecting Sydney's History' by JW.
This book by the Macleay Museum is very interesting as it gathers view of experts of the day. Even though it has contents (such as 'Crisis Archaeology' by Helen Temple) which recognise the "accelerating rate" at which evidence of the past is being destroyed - and that "a general lack of awareness of those aspects of our history which surrounds us" was permitting this rapid disappearance of valuable information, none of the writers seems to have gotten the idea of taking a more pro-active and systematic broad approach to gathering/preserving history. Attention was given to perhaps curbing relic hunters and "local groups who view archaeological excavation as a hobby and who often unintentionally destroy what may be significant sites", and to trailbike riders who may "accelerate the natural process of decay by repeated and constant wear and tear on exposed remains". John Wade himself had strong feelings against the old bottle collectors who 'looted' sites and located old rubbish dumps with 'their detectors and probes'. Elsewhere in 1979 he wrote that what they. the "dump looting fraternity" as he sometimes called them, were doing was "immoral" (ASHA Newsletter 9, p. 4). He planned direct action in the form of going to the next "National Bottle Show" (in Wollongong) in order to educate the bottle collecting fraternity to better appreciate the archaeological and historical viewpoint.
All that might be very important to address too (trailbike riders, amateur archaeologists and relic hunters ..) but the present writer believes the seemingly pervasive lack of pro-active thinking may have been taking a far greater toll overall than any trailbike riders or amateur archaeologists - yet none of the professional writings so far read have even mentioned it.
John Wade's writings come close though. John was with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences in Harris Street when he wrote his abovementioned review - later replaced by the Powerhouse Museum that was developed in the old Ultimo powerhouse. John was then the Curator of Ceramics at the Power House.
The old Ultimo museum in Harris Street where John Wade worked, which later occupied the nearby power station.
Originally this building was called the Technological Museum (situated beside the Sydney Technical College).
In 1945 it was renamed the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
The gutted Ultimo power station prior to restoration (left), and in 2009 (Photos: sth475 )
Showing considerable addition also added alongside the old buildings of Ultimo powerhouse.
The Ultimo power station was built in 1899 primarily to power Sydney’s electric tram system. The trams ceased running in 1963 and the building became derelict. In 1979 the NSW Government agreed to give it to museum use. The new "Powerhouse Museum", built in and around the shell of the old power station, was opened in 1988. Even that building of course has insufficient storage capacity to do justice to the technological past, whence a second location has since been established by the Museum on the Cumberland Plain west of Sydney.
Another fine example of industrial heritage preservation - the Tejo power station in Lisbon
Old building restoration and re-use at Belfast gasworks - given a modern look by wing replacement.
Wade's museum of technology where he worked at Ultimo was later transferred to the restored Ultimo power station, not far down the road from the original Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences museum. This was an excellent re-use of the old power station, now renamed the Powerhouse Musem - http://www.powerhousemuseum.com
Another fine example of power station re-use is shown above, the Tejo station. Tejo was converted into a technology (electricity) museum that opened to the public in 2006. Along with being a repository of the past it also carries displays to show the present and discuss the future of energy, which is something very important to all people.
Power stations generally tend to look "ugly" unless one were a power station history fanatic or something. But when thoroughly restored and artistically lit as above it becomes hard to deny that such a place could assume a façade of undeniable beauty - which appreciation of it becomes further augmented by the realisation that such an old workhorse or 'cathedral of industry' has now been turned into a cathedral of learning for all who will visit there (as another place where the future may be informed by the past).
John Wade's article is one good introduction (there probably are others) to the former range of thinking about collecting Sydney and NSW history and heritage, and about the museums and other institutions brought into existence to house collections. The Australian Museum was the first-formed, in 1827, devoting itself to the natural history of Australia. Much later in the same century art museums and technological museums and one mining museum would arise. Museums devoted to history generally came later, especially as myriad smaller local collections. Wade writes how for quite some time Australians may not have wanted to be too much reminded of the past, especially of our nations convict origins (he wrote "Indeed, when Sydney's first Technological Musuem was destroyed in the Garden Palace fire of September 1882, it was widely believed to be the work of an arsonist intent on destroying convict records thought to have been stored in the building" [just speculation as nobody has ever confessed on their deathfed to doing that]. All of Sydney's early museums placed their treasures into the Garden Palace as it was a major international or Empire exhibition placing Australia on display. The fire destroyed a great deal of irreplaceable material, such as the ethnological collection of the Australian Museum which contained all the collected Aboriginal material from the period of first contact (some of which was still preserved because it had been sent back to England, but mostly lost).
Wade gave a survey of existing collections in Sydney and discussed about repatriating items. He did not quite get onto the topic of "pro-active" planning for gathering/keeping history but he did, towards the end of his review, mention the desirability of keeping things in original context, stating "This whole question of objects and sites is one which needs to be examined closely, to produce a co-ordinated management policy and better documentation and use of the artefacts and sites, for research, display and education".
That same year, 1979, there had been a conference/seminar held in Goulburn with more than a hundred attendees. Some mentions of this event state it was on "Archaeological sites in Australia - their significance, identification, recording and assessment", others refer to it as a seminar by the NSW National Trust on "Industrial and Historical Archaeology". Apparently the attendees brought forth many stories to highlight the inadequacies of existing management policies and this may have been what lead to Wade's belief that "This whole question of objects and sites is one which needs to be examined closely ...". It is also interesting, and ironic, that the 1979 conference in Goulburn which recognised deficiencies had a site visit organised to visit the Gulson Brickworks, established in 1884. Ironic because many years later a developer began knocking the brickworks old buildings down, even though the site was heritage listed, and the Goulburn Council knew of this only because a nearby resident complained of the noise and dust nuisance she was experiencing (so any calls for reform to protection inadequacies may have had but little effect on the Council where the conference was held?).
Amongst other things, the delegates at Goulburn in 1979 resolved to encourage the establishment of groups to record industrial and archaeological sites. Also at the time Wade wrote there was legislation in effect to make any non-European relics the property of the Crown, with the Australian Museum designated as repository - but nothing to cover/protect natural or non-European items.
That "whole question" statement of Wade in 1979 is much the same as, or could include, the "getting more proactive" way of putting it, as described herein. So, who if anyone took up that question Wade posed? I don't know, but the Powerhouse Museum which succeeded Wade's museum (Applied Arts and Sciences) would be one good place to start enquiring if anyone in the museum world is known to have carried this thinking further after 1979. Athough I don't know offhand of any such 'site-thinking' cases near Sydney for industrial heritage, some such site-thinking was engaged upon by those interested in Aboriginal heritage - Wade mentioned (without saying where it was) "the proposal for an Aboriginal rock carving museum in the Sydney area". Thus the proposal for some on-site Aboriginal museum was early around (such was advanced almost to commencement at Devil's Rock, Maroota, but was tere stopped by personal discords [pers. comm. JH] rather than lack of dedicated government funding - then another later proposal was for Homebush Bay (Newington side) but nothing came of that in securing any funding support).
There's perhaps a bit of interesting 'connectiveness' or similarity in JW's own museum's development with Mortlake's potential - since the old Powerhouse of the Mortlake gasworks is the sole remaining "big old chunky 'industrial-looking' building" at the site (now called Breakfast Point) which could be given over at least in part to some museological function or heritage display space. Other old buildings that survive there are single-storey and well suited for re-use as office or function centre spaces. The only other surviving taller building, the so-called "Plumbers' Workshop or store" has already been ear-marked to a worthy adaptive cause - as a Seniors Centre (according to planning application lodged this year, 2010).
The chief problems with heritage centre/museum thinking for Breakfast Point are ones of economic sustainability and apparent lack(?) of interest.
That the old Powershouse might be a fine buiding for museum or heritage centre type useage was proposed or recognised many years ago but no local residents nor anyone else in Sydney has surfaces as interested in the idea -- so far. Without a strong body of "interested volunteers" projects like industrial heritage have but little chance of success -- as judged by looking at similar industrial heritage recognition and conservation/display work overseas.
The other problem - economic sustainability is a truly ferocious one with teeth as big as dinosaurs'.
Since the rise of economic rationalism to be the word's dominant political paradigm in the closing decades of the last millenium, everything must be justifiable in economic terms in order to be let survive or carry on. The rise of that paradigm slowly strangled and killed this writer's first workplace - the Geological and Mining Museum - which was given a short swift hammer blow to head by then-Treasurer Michael Egan at one of the time the State has felt it might be a pecunariously embarrasing budget situation. Simply put, that museum had been started by the State Government (Mines Department) long ago (late 1800s) and for a very long time occupied a building (originally built as DC power station but never fitted with machinery as Sydney, and the world, went AC instead) next to the southern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. With rising land values there had to come a time when the simple business of looking at and learning from rocks/minerals/fossils could in no way complete with the 'economic usefulness' of the land for any number of other purposes.
The Mining Museum was put on the path to privatisation but it never survived the journey. It was hoped that the mining industry would progressively take over its running and relieve that State of the 'burden'. It was renamed as the "Earth Exchange", sounding like 'Stock Exchange', and hoped to attract mining companies to love and adopt it, but that grand plan floundered out of lack of interest too.
The mining museum of Sydney in its last days planned to utilise the top floor (magnificent harbour views) as a cafe or ballroom (the Australian Museum also built at cafe high up to give good views). As an old powerhouse building it also had a tall chimney and was negotiating to let Coca Cola use that for an advertising sign that would have been 'in the face' of every motor vehicle and train entering Sydney from the north. Alas the hammer blow came before that deal was finalised.
The Mortlake old Powerhouse is right on the point and advertising places on its side would be seen by all River/harbour traffic (which includes many international tourists and so many tour operators now building in a tour leg of City-to-Olympics-wharf ... even in day tours which go so far west as Katoomba before returning. Thus the Powerhouse wall offers a powerful advertising position which might add some value consideration to it? The idea of putting in a cafe or restaurant of course was picked up on right from the very first suggesting that it had museum type potential - knowing how hard it is to justify museums.
The museum or heritage potential might be enhanced if thinking switched from just-Mortlake into making this the Industrial Heritage Centre idea for the whole of the Parramatta River precinct/shores upstream of Gladesville Bridge (or wherever the traditional division between the upper and lower Parramatta/Harbour waterway is taken to be). Planning like that would require the interaction of a number of municipal councils, particularly along the southern side of the river where industry has formerly been more concentrated.
SOME THOUGHTS OF SPACE VS. PLACE (What gives us the so-called 'sense of place'?)
"Place" is important to many. It is the stuff of concern of local histories - often written by "amateur" historians. It is important to all manner of natural historians and students of nature, ranging from such broad terms as 'environment' to narrow terms like 'niche'. Place and ecosystems are closely connected.
We know that place, also termed 'country', is asserted as very important to Aboriginal people.
And in architecture and town planning it is a 'philosophical' aspect of practice and theory which seeks to recognise the existence of man (universally agreed upon) and the spirit of nature (not so universally agreed upon). This has been a recognised basis of architectural design and philosophical thought since the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle; and many infer it as the primary intent of the "modern" movement that saw LeCorbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn and others search for an architecture that would restore the fracture between thought and feeling.
Breakfast Point is an intentionally created "new place" and so has been seeking to construct its own sense of place.
As an intentional planned community, Breakfast Point of course had a Masterplan, and it is to the words of the Master-planner or founder, Bob Rose, that we must look to understand just what guided the Rosecorp vision of "New Suburbia" from which grew the current Breakfast Point estate or mini-suburb.
This webpage, like paintings by Jane Bennett shown herein, reflects perhaps wistfully on the "eternal conflict" between hope for the future and regret for the loss of the past which the future works must destroy. This is seen very prominently in big projects under various names, 'rejuvenation', 'urban renewal', 'brownfields redevelopment', 'new urbanism', 'new suburbia' etc., all over the world - that the old must give way to the new - as indeed it always has.
And so a large and once most vital chunk of Mortlake has now been renamed Breakfast Point to escape/avoid any mental images of its former gasworks landscape. However, the Drummoyne Five Dock District News saw Breakfast Point as a 'new dawn' and wrote on 5 June 1990 - "Mortlake will never die. It's passage from yesterday's greatness to Breakfast Point's new community development makes us all the richer. Its historic value will not be forgotten, nor the thousands of workers ...". One hopes so - that one day the industrial process of making gas from coal, and the thousands who worked to make it happen or maintain the running of it, will be commemorated carefully and with respect at Mortlake-Breakfast-Point. But for the moment that is understandably bad for marketting image and so might have to be postposed till after the last residences there have been built and sold. There probably will be at least some small memorialisation, such as plaques, ultimately installed at Breakfast Point to remember the gasworks in some way ....... yet at present (2010) when perusing the area in conjunction with compiling the info in this webpage there was come upon not a single mention anywhere of the former existence here of what was surely once one of the greatest gasworks in the southern hemisphere. The former council of the area (Concord Council - itself swept into oblivion by an amalgamation that yielded the current municipality called Canada Bay) had been given to memorialising things and had been responsible for installing many plaques around the former municipality in general. How keen the Canada Bay Council is about putting memorial plaques or heritage panels around has not yet been learned of. Another municipal council to the south, Canterbury Councl, has developed an extensive program of placing 'heritage panels' around the municipality which, I think, sets a good example for the surrounding councils.
Australia does not have a very long written history. One of the oldest European significant observation/records west of Sydney Town is the record of contact with Aborigines that took place at Breakfast Point. This small and rather inconsequential, matter of fact, encounter took place on the 5th February 1788 as noted in the diary of Lieutenant William Bradley RN (Royal Navy):
'At daylight, having a guard of marines, proceeded to the upper part of the harbour again, passed several natives in the caves as we went up and on the shore near the place we left beads and some other things, who followed us along the rocks calling to us. We landed to cook our breakfast on the opposite shore to them. We made signs for them to come over and waved green boughs. Soon after seven of them came over in two canoes and landed near our boats. They left their spears in the canoes and came to us. We tied beads etc. about them and left them our fire to dress mussels which they went about as soon as we put off'.
The former Concord Council had remembered first inhabitants, the long gone Aborigines of the area, via "Wangal Park" (named after what some think was the self-designation of the local people) at the nearby Mortlake Point. It was noted however in 2010 that all the signage saying "Wangal Park", which formerly stood at the entrance of that place, has now been obliterated for some reason -- All this might seem to suggest that the current larger ('city') council is less conscious or concerned about the past than was the former smaller council(?). To test such a thought, and/or generally seek information, the writer contacted all current councillors about what they know of Mortlake and the gasworks. That was done prior to doing this webpage - but initially nothing at all useful was forthcoming from them (some saying that it was all before their time etc.) - how fast are things forgotten? [The seeming lack of councillor knowledge or impressions about the place was later on followed up on after it was found reported in Council minutes how councillors had in fact been taken on tours of the progress and heritage values of the place - whence some councillor 'must know something' about it, one would think?].
Building shell of the Ultimo power station - which became the Powerhouse Museum
it is a rare instance indeed, when any former gasworks structure is allowed to
And that is deplorable, in my mind." - Dr Allen W. Hatheway (global expert on old gasworks sites)
This "industrial cathedral", Retort House No. 2, once housed carburetted water gas retorts that were the
largest units in the Empire outside of the Old Country ( fide Noel Mather, the chief engineer at
Mortlake works in 1929-1965) - but the building was held to be badly contamination ....
And so down came another old gas works Industrial 'cathedral'. Demolition in 2003 - Art of Jane Bennett.
(Ink sketch 'AGL5' - Demolition of the CWG Building, AGL Site, Mortlake - 2003 ink, gouache, paper 57 x 77 cm).
Jane Bennett - "In 1985 I began to paint and draw Sydney’s industrial heritage sites. I am not the only one to have become concerned at the astounding rate of Sydney’s development in the past two decades, and I became both fascinated and repelled by the scenes of destruction. I seem to have an uncanny instinct for selecting subjects that are about to vanish and experienced great frustration at painting to an unknown but inevitable time limit as whole suburbs were demolished as fast as I could paint them. Ironically part of the attraction of such places is their poignant impermanence. I sought to paint the landscape forever poised at the moment of transition – at the first bite of the bulldozer – at the point of maximum contrast between past and future`...... This series of works is not merely a record of visual appearances, but a narrative sequence of the dismantling of relics of the Industrial Revolution – an industrial 'momento mori'. The paintings express the eternal conflict between hope for the future and regret for the loss of the past."
( See the artist's fuller statement HERE. ).
Jane (considered one of Sydney's foremost "unofficial historians" on account of the extensive amount of time spent on her mission to paint Sydney's disappearing industrial sites) between 2000 and 2002 did a series of over 30 paintings on the AGL Mortlake site and stated she "could have done many more .... I would go there a couple of days a week right up until they pulled the buildings down". She has said that she wished she had discovered the site earlier, and then she would have been able to do more than the thirty or so images she managed to capture. Her Mortlake gasworks series won critical acclaim, with several works winning major art prizes and one being in the finals for the Blake Prize for Religious Art (source: "Meet Sydney's Unofficial Historian" by Bianca Lipari).
Classical English gasworks large retort houses, such as were the Retort Houses Nos. 1 and 2 at Mortlake, were long
narrow high buildings - as is also this actual chapel building, Thorncrown Chapel at Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Gas works might not seem very religious places? But "The buildings, church-like in appearance, were thought be some to be like 'temples' of industry ..." (Drummoyne Five Dock District News, 5 June 1990 within article "Gas Works to Close". This is perhaps why the Auto CWG Building seemed cathedral-like to some who regretted that it had to be demolished. It had seemed, as the place were gas was generated, to better symbolise the "spirit" of the place than the other surviving old buildings. For gas has long been figuratively seen as part of the holy trilogy 'Father Sun and the Holy Ghost' - in the sense that the father of gas is coal, and the father of coal is the Sun which made the trees and vegetation to grow (in the Permian in our case) that made the coal. The ghost in German is "Geist" and this is how the word gas came about in the case of coal gas (e.g. "GAS. A chemical term derived from the German geist, spirit" in A dictionary of general knowledge; or, An explanation of words by George Crabb, 1830). According to some (e.g. in an early educational brochure by AGL), John Baptist van Helmont (1579-1644) of Brussels was heating coal one day in a crucible when he saw its "wild spirit" burst forth - and he called such by the name Geist.
Another mention of gas as the ghost or spirit of coal.
(In: Symposium on Industrial Fuels, ASTM International, 1936)
THIS WRITER'S INTERESTS
The present writer, John Byrnes, did best at school in Chemistry (out of the subjects one might hope to make a career in).
Thus my knowledge of carbon, coal gas and the gas industry is pretty much of the style and extent as can be seen in old textbooks. Favourite old textbooks such as this include Sherwood Taylor's "Inorganic and Theoretical Chemistry" (first published 1931) which has all the basics of coal gas and the gas industry in it.
I went to university, University of New South Wales at Kensington, thinking to become an industrial chemist and entering the general first year science stream.
Following student excursions to chemical works in Concord Municipality along the Parramatta River I decided that industrial chemistry was definitely not for me (finding various smells and fumes intolerable). Thus I early switched to another interest, geology and graduated instead as a geologist. Nonetheless I retain an interest in chemistry and have thought that - when time permits - I would look into how the old chemical industries along the Parramatta River interacted. This webpage is connected with that ongoing interest although as yet I still don't know much about how the plants interacted (but have always assumed they did so - that factories both east and west of the gasworks likely used its products and that both petroleum and gas industries, both present on the upper Parramatta River, can interact). Born in Ashfield, I have also lived all my life in this "Inner West" part of Sydney.
My other general interest is simply information - how it is gained, preserved and disseminated.
THE SEARCH FOR RECORDS
Information about the "New Suburbia" thinking associated with the new Breakfact Point development has been taken mainly from Rosecorp writings, especially the Breakfast Point newsletters - and also from Suburbia-Rose.pdf which is a 2002 talk by Mr Bob Rose stating "Breakfast Point is OUR vision of NEW SUBURBIA" (original emphasis).
"From a local history point of view, it was devastating to find that valuable Council records had been lost and access to much AGL material was no longer possible" - 2003, Lola Sharp (Archives and Local History, Chairman of the Archives/Local History Sub-Committee, Concord Heritage Society).
[ The aim of Lola's sub-committee was stated to be: Maintain and file all information, papers, newspapers, books, records, etc. given to the Society; compile a readily available index to the Society’s archive collection and carry out research into specific items .]
Lola discovered the loss of Council records and has done a Masters Degree in part on Mortlake (from approximately 1883 to the turn of the century, 1900). For this she looked for sources in both historical and and government contexts. She considered how a small fragmented village became a major industrial centre by the turn of the century. Lola's work is not presently available online but is mentioned in the society's newsletters.
The present webpage has drawn extensively upon what is preserved at the Concord museum (Concord, later Canada Bay ,Heritage Society mueum ); but as noted above there is little or nothing of Concord Council records to be found there. Also, all current councillors of the municipality were contacted to see what they knew. Initially very little came from doing that - however various former councillors might also be contacted for whatever they can remember, especially former mayor Peter Woods who had expressed some interest in both heritage and environment matters over the years he held office.
Lost, incomplete or missing records are not something peculiar to the Parramatta River area (including Homebush Bay). The award-winning environmental and engineering geologist, Professor Allen W. Hatheway has had this generalisation to make in America on that matter: "It is our belief that the national situation of environmental legislation and environmental regulation has grown to place the public in a position of severe disadvantage, in term of gaining access to the actual historic technical and operational records of the manner in which gas-manufacturing residuals and wastes were generated, handled, managed, and discharged or otherwise disposed on an in the environment". See the end of this webpage for links to Allen Hatheway's many writings.
And for Hatheway's views about such subjects as records keeping and fundamentals of regulatory geology, download this good starting point:
"Full Disclosure: Regulatory Geology"
- PPT Format - 24 MB
Hatheway is a foremost expert (perhaps "the" foremost expert) on former gasworks sites. In the course of his personal research, he has studied and/or visited more than 1,000 sites of former gas manufacturing plants. He maintains a large professional technical library, estimated by a colleague to amount to 10,000 books and pamphlets, much of it related to manufactured gas and allied fields. He has devoted considerable energy over the past 15 years in learning and researching in manufactured gas and maintains huge computer files of bibliography, facts about manufactured gas, and a worldwide data base. His personal collection of color slides amounts to just over 24,000 items, both from his own field work and as copies from the historic gas industry literature.
OTHER REFLECTIONS AND CASES OF THE FATE OF GASWORKS SITES
" it is a rare instance indeed, when any former gasworks structure is allowed to remain standing. And that is deplorable, in my mind."
- Dr Allen W. Hatheway (global expert on old gasworks sites)
There are some interesting gasworks survival and re-usage examples in the world, some shown herein, but Dr Hatheway's overall words above are striking, that such are "rare" instances. Assertions of 'contamination' have been widely used (arguably rightly/wrongly) for mass clearance of heritage structures. A case perhaps similar to Mortlake was the "decontamination process" at the Nowra gasworks, during which the formerly listed heritage items were demolished or removed. Although that was the ultimate outcome, when the demolition started there to provide for a carpark (January, 2008) the news report the ABC news had stated "Shoalhaven council says the demolition of the Nowra Gasworks may reveal historic relics .... The council's project manager, Bill Patterson, says archaeologists will be on site to ensure the demolition does not disturb any historic relics found. Mr Patterson says the final size of the car park will depend on whether any relics are located at the site. "At the moment it is estimated that about just over 200 spaces [will be provided], but it just depends on what we find with the heritage items and what we need to do as far as the heritage interpretation display of how many spaces will ultimately be there, but it should be around the 200 mark." What happened to small moveable heritage items and paper records for that site may also have been a matter of concern. One of the things that transpired during the course of current information seeking was that the National Trust, apparently strapped for cash, did away with its specialist officers in industrial heritage. At the beginning it had looked like this person might have been a source of information on the fate of NSW gasworks. The National Trust also has an Urban Conservation Committee but enquiry about that did not ascertain if it was intersested in industrial heritage. In fact during enquiries for forming this webpage nobody at all was learned of with interest in heritage of NSW gasworks sites - apart from artist Jane Bennett and her interest to record their passing in paintings.
The herein compilation of history around Mortlake (Breakfast Point) was started in November 2010.
Although having always lived nearby, the writer (born in Ashfield) did not pay close attention when the gas works were being demolished.
Fortunately others may have, and the artist Jane Bennett most certainly did !! [Also there may be full photographic archives somewhere - not yet located.]
Jane's painting of the last days of the works and the ruins of the Industrial "Cathedral of Mortlake" (and apt name as retort houses are the hearts of gas works as explained herein), and her records of that time are found herein. I am very grateful to have received them from her, and so far in my readings I have not come upon anybody else who bothered to permanently record or note these things at that dramatic turning point in the history of Mortlake/Breakfast Point - from industrial hub to luxury lifestyle estate of mini-suburb proportions.
What were the feelings of local historians as the gas works buildings 'mostly' went? Nothing on that has been found as yet. A number of local historians have carefully gathered past photos of the works, but any local activity or concerns when the site was massively cleared for decontamination has yet to be learned of. In retrospective the writer has at the present time (2010) been informed that so many buildings were rapidly disposed of because contaminants, chiefly tar, had seeped through so much of the ground that underlay them. Also, more recently, a problem of 'concrete cancer' has been mentioned as working against the old buildings. They value of the space they occupied and 'sterilized' from residential building must also be an important consideration. For whatever the reason, very few purely "industrial" (versus old offices style buildings - these continued on useful) abandonned old buildings of the former gas works now remain.
To know the truth about the past, even the relatively recent past, is very often no simple matter.
So there is certain to be errors contained herein. The writer undertakes to correct any as soon as notified. Please send noted errors or further infomation to John Byrnes, geologist, at john.mail"@"ozemail.com.au
Also any technical questions about gasworks and the contamination legacy of them should be addressed to environmental geologist Allen Hatheway ( www.Hatheway.net , firstname.lastname@example.org ) who has made a world-wide study of such sites.
Dr. Hatheway welcomes your letters and will attempt to answer them as his schedule and the appropriateness and interest level of the topic will allow. Here is an example of a letter to him - and answer:
Dear Dr. Hatheway,
I am a resident of Mytown, XX and an admirer of one of our city’s few industrial gems – the surviving brick structure at the site of a former MGP (it is one of the "FMGP In The News" items on your website). I corresponded with an engineer about a year ago who indicated that the vast majority of such structures have been demolished. If ours is indeed one of a few, or even a few hundred, that remain, it would lend extra support to those of us in the community who are advocating for its preservation. The building was designated a local landmark in XXXX.
Do you have an idea of approximately how many similar structures are still standing in the U.S.? Thanks for any help you can provide.
I’m enjoying the “FMGP in the Arts” section of your site!
Dear Mr. Doe:
Your letter of concern surely "stirs" me, as I am also an historical preservationist, particularly in the sense of FMGP structures and of the artifacts that are routinely exhumed and cast aside during their remediation.
Your findings from the "engineer" are totally valid, on just that one source of reference. The situation is that once forced to undertake remedial actions, the owners (mostly utility firms) act quickly to remove all surface evidence of the FMGP, such as will linger over the years and also serve to generate commentary from older citizens who may tend to remember the strife that occurred in the struggle to bring the RP to actual remedial action.
It is a rare instance indeed, when any former gasworks structure is allowed to remain standing.
And that is deplorable, in my mind.
Nationally, given my estimated figure (my website) of some 3,500 FMGPs built and operated as public utility plants, it is my sense that perhaps 800 of the largest and/most "visible" plants have received some sort of remedial attention. Of these, I would estimate that perhaps fifty may have at least one remaining structure. Of the total estimated number of 3,500 FMGP public utility plants, my estimate is that virtually all have been subjected to some form of post-operational demolition-removal of surface structures, and that perhaps 80 percent of the my total estimated number show no visual surface evidence at all, to the layperson's eye, at least, of any remaining evidence of the gasworks.
Most of the FMGP demolition has been driven by two forces; 1) owner desire to reduce the property-tax burden, and; 2) conversion needs for space required for consumer-service activities requiring vehicles, trenching, meter shops, and distribution-pipe supply storage brought about by vast expansions in customer service concurrent with the post-1950 arrival of natural gas at the various locations.
Most distinctive, and the first to go, through WW II scrap drives and because of their massive and directly representative image of a gasworks, are the gas holders (gasometers). I estimate that there were, at one time or another perhaps 5,000 of these remarkable structures to be found in the United States. Today there are, to my knowledge, less than a dozen of these left, and most are smallish gasholder houses found in the northern States (particularly at Troy, NY and Concord, NH). St. Louis has the last large, and perhaps only remaining open-air gas holders, and there are now but three, since we lost another one last year.
However, depending on the nature of gasworks operational service, many of the non-holder FMGP gasyard structures sit directly atop their own PAH toxic residual hot spots and careful consideration must be given to that nature of what does lie below the structure and how such threats, if any, can be removed from "reception" by the folks who may come to visit or occupy a "saved"/preserved structure.
Considering the high potential value of the remaining gasworks structure, as an industrial archaeological landmark feature, it is my opinion that efforts should be made to call for its preservation. There are many ways to detoxify or otherwise bar the release of toxic contaminants to the visiting public, but just about any of the potential solutions for preservation will be expensive to the owner.
On the other hand, had it not been the owner who caused the health threat (represented by the gasworks itself, and likely by its gasworks residuals and wastes dump(s) which likely have not yet been revealed) to become a public health and financial burden?
It is my sense that the argument should begin with the fact that the RP owes the community the salvage- preservation of the FMGP structure as a form of reasonable compensation for its community burdens represented by the long-term post-operational presence of the unremediated site, and the long struggle to bring about the gasworks cleanup. There is a strong possibility that yet-undiscovered gasworks dumps of gas-manufacturing residuals and wastes yet linger within several blocks of the footprint of the gasworks. And so the community health burden will continue into the foreseeable future ....
Let me know if I can continue to assist in your preservation efforts.
Allen W. Hatheway
( http://www.hatheway.net/34_hatheway_harangues.htm )
Although Allen Hatheway writes "It is a rare instance indeed, when any former gasworks structure is allowed to remain standing" there is one rare case in Germany where gasometers were gutted and new apartments built within the cylindrical core spaces of there existing ornamental shells (such shells themselves were rare, however):
Modern apartments built within and in front of old ornamental facades of gasometers, Vienna.
New architecture within the Vienna gasometers (Photos: Coop Himmelb(l)au )
The above four historical gasometers, built between 1886 and 1899, originally housed the gas supply for Vienna.
When Vienna converted its gas supply to natural gas between 1970 and 1978, the gasometers were obsolete and the associated gasworks equipment began to be dismanted.
What remained was the outer skin of 90,000 cubic meters monumental brick cylinders which came to be under heritage protection.
In 1995 it was decided to utilise these obsolete structures for residential purposes, to yield 620 housing unit in 13 storey apartments, along with offices and shops. A 3,000 seat Entertainment Center and a Shopping Mall connecting the Gasometer buildings were also integrated into the new complex, making it into the new "Gasometers City" Center.
This case is cited a prime example of the economic/commercial salvation of heritage: "... It was only the concept formulating the transformation of monuments into a center offering enough residential accommodation that enabled (us) to preserve monuments economically and to turn them into a vital point of identification in the no man’s land of Vienna’s outskirts." (German translation).
"From the point of view of monumental protection the historical Gasometers are not particularly worthy of preservation. They should be preserved though, as they are a symbol for the development of the City of Vienna’s infrastructure."
The extra "shield" building constructed in front of two of the gasometers was really added in order to assure more financial feasibility for the project, but it was also stated that it represented the "Void of the cylinder unrolled”, and that "The shield as an extension does not only serve as a debate between the Old and the New, or as the formulation of space and certainly ... but it is rather a visible symbol for a new content. In a figurative sense this synergy concept refers to the Gasometer project’s strategy of urban planning".
Linkage between historical core and new developments is something every city needs according to those German developers - and to increase population density may be the best economic means of preserving such vestiges of the past - also referred to as adaptive re-use. They stated "This tension enables the dynamic developments every city, thinking about its future, needs. Density is urbanity. We are proud that this theorem on urbanity has also been acknowledged in Vienna” ( http://www.arcspace.com/architects/nouvel/gasometer2 )
And in Dublin too the old gasometer was preserved; filled with an annulus of 210 apartments - leaving a hollow core.
It's now hailed as one of the best or most interesting pieces of architecture in Dublin
And also in London, three more gasholder were preserved - at Kings Cross.
The present writer is interested in where things are mined (coal in this case), where they are moved to, and what becomes of them. Chains of events, coincidences, connections and events as man utilises the resources of the Earth.
Primarily it was coal that was turned into town gas on the shore of the Parramatta River (later on naptha was used for period as a transitionary measure before the coming of natural gas to Sydney). Further chemical industries were also attracted to the area, and utilised by-products from the gas works. Most of our chemical past we can be justly proud of - and some not so proud of. According to Wikipedia article 4.8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to Agent Orange, resulting in 400,000 people being killed or maimed, and 500,000 children born with birth defects ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agent_Orange ) - and it is popularly suspected that the Union Carbide site nearby in Homebush Bay, that started as a venture utilising material from the gas works, ended up making a big range of chemicals including Agent Orange ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homebush_Bay ). Perhaps not all that much of this was ever make at Parramatta River but even in small amounts it is a nasty enough compound to leave a strong legacy.
The actual story of all the chemical industry interconnections along the upper half of the Parramatta River has perhaps never been compiled. At least it is not know at the time of this writing and that is seen as another theme to pursue information on.
According to geologist Allen W. Hatheway, a coal chemicals residues expert, the Mortlake gas works began "deliberate dumping of non-specification coal tar, CWG tarwater, emulsions and other toxic and inert gas manufacturing residuals and wastes, at Rhodes (Lednez or Union Carbide site). Was this really straight-out primary dumping or were the wastes transferred there for some extractive purposes? Hatheway also refers to a "mammoth" Mortlake gasworks dump being converted to a reclaimed use for the 2000 Olympic Games" which suggests wastes also made their way to the opposite (western) side of Homebush Bay (in "Geological-remedial observations on the former manufactured gas plants and other coal-tar sites of Australia"- Geologically Active – Williams et al. (eds)). Also along the river a vesicular slaggy substance or 'clinker' is common; which is most likely a distributed waste from the gasworks.
The onshore cleanup of chemical wastes all along the Parramatta River is essentially complete now, I think, apart from whatever is associated with chemical plants still in operation such as the large oil refinery expanse further upstream towards Parramatta. Offshore pollution has been addressed to lesser degree. It has been removed at Rhodes but not yet touched offshore from the gas works site, where trace oil-like seepage is observable from sediment taken from the bay floor.
DIFFERENT VISIONS FOR FUTURE OF THE AREA
At least two development visions are known in the history of Mortlake
Two great vision for development descended for Mortlake at different times.
The first one related to industry - the coming of the gasworks -- spurring vision of a "new township" (and opportunity to profit).
The second one related to the departure of the gasworks -- spurrring vision of a "new suburbia" (not only profit, but vision of better 'lifestyle').
Both visions in fact relate to closing of gas works, since the first vision is a flow-on effect of the closing of the gas works at Darling Harbour.
The first vision - of a 'Mortlake Township' (1914)
This is the smaller and less consequential of the visions.
As seen in the illustration it envisaged dense/conjoined development, something like the shops of Ashfield or Burwood in the Inner West.
From this ...
To this ...
To some extent the first vision might have been achieved, and might have given some profits to those being encouraged to speculate. The advertised land was at the junction of the Mortlake-Cabarita and Mortlake-Burwood tramlines (which was the junction of Frederick Street and Cabarita Road). A small shopping centre of a handful of shops did indeed develop there - along with another small cluster of shops a bit further north (at the Mortlake Street junction with Brays Street (which claims to sell very good fish and chips). Those shops are also sometimes referred to as the 'Mortlake shops'.
The first vision was nothing outstanding, however, in its visual effects. It relates more to the 'Gateway to Mortlake' than to Mortlake sensu stricto. As it turned out, the popular conception of Mortlake never fully creep as far south as the shops on Cabarita Road, and certainly the whole area along Mortlake Street did not become any noteworthy 'Township of Mortlake' as envisaged. Nearby central Concord became the major local shopping centre.
The 'Mortlake shops' at the northern end of Mortlake Street came after the 'Township of Mortlake' vision inspired by the predicted workforce increase for the gas works. However it is not much of a 'Township' and even the 'Supermarket' does not call itself a 'Mortlake' shop but rather the "Concord" Covenience Store. The famous fish and chips shop is sub-opposite to the right.
Mortlake area housing density in 1905
Housing density was considerable around Mortlake even by 1905. The 1920 airphoto (below) shows even greater density. Hence the opportunity for a new 'Township' in 1914 was not all that great. In addition, because of the outbreak of WWI the actual resumption of Darling Harbour gasworks land, and the closing down of those works, was delayed. All up then, the 1914 vision for dramatic change at Mortake may have been under-achieved.
The second vision - of New Suburbia or New Urbanism (ca. 2000)
The second great vision, also called the 'NEW DAWN', for the Mortlake gasworks area, already re-christened as Breakfast Point, began to be shared as building was due to commence.
Locally, Breakfast Point was part of the more widespread industrial land conversion to luxury housing that would soon be occurring all along the Parramatta River. In that sense it did not commence at Mortlake. Stylistically and in other regards Breakfast Point became further 'perfection' of what was started elsewhere, e.g. nearby at Cape Cabarita.
Why it could move on to envelop the larger land mass of the gasworks at Mortlake relates directly to the coming of natural gas to Sydney - and it was AGL themselves who first began planning the 'vision of Breakfast Point', and applied that name across the re-development area.
Breakfast Point redevelopment was early referred to as a "New Dawn" for Mortlake. The size of the gasworks site would allow for a mini-suburb scale of approach. Very soon, encouraged by publicity from Rosecorp, Breakfast Point was being thought of as a place where no expense in time or money was being spared to create a model suburb - one that might exemply the concept/vision of a major and experienced developer (Rosecorp) for "New Surburbia". Since its commencement, many indeed have looked to Breakfast Point for 'new suburbia' inspiration.
Breakfast Point is also regarded to embody the principles of the 'new urbanism' movement. However, trying to discern what those principles might be is difficult - as there seems to be great variety in the developments which have been termed new urbanist. One perception found is that new urbanism is actually a return to old urbanist thinking (albeit often at the very top end of affordability). If so it might be seen as an architectural or town planning analogue to neo-liberalism in politics. Neo-liberalism can just as easily be thought of as old-liberalism, or palaeo-liberalism, as it is a return to "classical" liberalism. Similarly, new urbanism may be a return to old (pre-WWII) urbanism and be neo-traditionalism. Both these terms are interchanged by some. In new urbanism good old family values like "community" are much stressed and it is perhaps desirable to minimise the prominence of the motor car. It is commonly stressed that new urbanist developments should be pedestrian friendly. Varied approaches to "community building" (or "sense of community" building) have been followed by new urbanist developers all over the world.
The Sydney Morning Herald on 2 December 2000 did a feature on New Urbanism, presenting it as an American trend, and this article cited four examples in Sydney - Liberty Grove, Newington, Cape Cabarita and Breakfast Point. The new urbanism "village" ideals in Australia have been promoted by the Urban Development Institute. This institute has given awards to Cape Cabarita and Lliberty Grove.
Liberty Grove won the "sense of community" award, and sense of community is often found mentioned in its advertising:.
"Offering an exclusive resort- like lifestyle in an idyllic waterside haven, Liberty Grove puts a sense of community back into urban-living" - Ray White, estate agency, Concord.
According to another article in the Sydney Morning Herald ("Estate of Play", 15 March 2001) the same picture was painted for Breakfast Point's predecessor, Cape Cabarita, by that development's sales manager, Michael Attard: "It's just picture perfect. It's an old-fashioned community where they have values of friendship and community and they have social interaction between each other." The words traditional or old-fashioned have often been used for the style of the $1.65 billion development. It has also been called a US-style development, cute "Martha Stewart-style" houses (classic themes for enduring style), etc.
The 2 December 2000 SMH article stated that it started at the town of Seaside in Florida, which inspired more than 120 "neo-traditional" communities around the United States. The design principles of town planner Leon Krier were cited and the new urbanism guru was said to be architect Andres Duany (who designed Seaside iteself). Another of the best-known examples of new urbanism was said to be the village of Celebration, also in Florida, built by Disney.
The city of "Celebration" in Florida. Built by Disney Villas, marketted by the Celebration Company. (Photo: The Walt Disney Company)
According to Dr. Andrew Wood ( http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/wooda ) Celebration is an experiment in New Urbanism, an architectural movement seeking to design cities that are pedestrian friendly, coherently themed, and community centered. Generally, this form of architecture is designed to appeal to folks who are nostalgic for small town life. Celebration is designed to resemble a "typical'' southern small town built in the 1930s, yet amenities include a fiber-optic network and intranet as well as a state-of-the-art hospital. A videotape playing at the Celebration Preview Center promises a "new American town of Fourth of July parades and school bake sales. . . spaghetti dinners and fireflies in a jar."
The ironic relationship of future and past is epitomized by a promotional sign for Celebration that reads "Imagine how great it would have been . . . to live fifty years ago with all the neat gear you have today." Celebration and various other neo-old trends are referred to by some as examples of heterotopia.
Architect Philip Morris wrote of Celebration: ".... Celebration reflects both a myth of the past and a promise of the future, simultaneously. Celebration invites its residents and visitors to sit, stroll, and day dream within an urban setting. Celebration provides a therapeutic response to the McWorlding of human experience - the sense that people and places are interchangeable and irrelevant." [ Morris, P.,1997. Design of celebration. Celebration Journal, 1, pp. 37-43]. (Others disagree with Morris and see new urbanism itself as part of "McWorlding".]
Celebration is much bigger than Mortlake's "new dawn" of Breakfast Point. Not surprisingly, Celebration has been accompanied by a bigger 'philosophy':
"Rejecting the unidimensional path toward progress epitomized by the 1960s plans for EPCOT, Disney intends for Celebration to represent a rhetoric of public life according to five cornerstones: community, education, place, health, and technology. Community represents a sense of shared obligation among individual homeowners who freely merge public and private roles. Education illustrates a dimension that inspires intellectual contemplation of the town's philosophy and institutionalizes process through which that vision is shared without outsiders and the young. Place is the rhetorical intersection of individual behavior, utterance, and attitudes with formal built structures, such as the Celebration school, hospital, and 'town hal'. As with community, discussions of place in Celebration are almost invariably preceded with the phrase, 'a sense of'' ... etc." (Morris, 1997)
Thus this talk of "sense of place" for these sorts of developments appears to go back in popularity to at least 1997(?).
"Successful or not, Celebration represents an important trend in public life - the heterotopian desire to experience both/and rather than either/or. Fixed somewhere between the machine and the garden, technopolis and arcadia, Celebration says as much about contemporary society as it does about the ambitions of Disney" ( http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/wooda/149/149syllabus15summary.html ).
New Urbanist Andres Duany and his Miami-based Duany Plater-Zyberk and Company were engaged in 2006 for the Tornagrain (Castle Stuart) project development by Moray Estates, between Inverness and Nairn. Giving a public address there he said his team intended to "use the increment of the village in planning for the new town". The village, he explained, presented a complete range of opportunities and experiences for each stage of one’s life, from cradle to grave - “the ebb and flow of traditional village life”. Mr Duany also influenced the building of Poundbury. About 5,000 houses are planned on the 350-acre site making it the largest Highlands community after Inverness. It was stated that it would also echo Prince Charles' Poundbury principles. Poundbury was a controversial development in that Prince Charles had gone head-to-head with contemporary architecture in the eighties and this was his first and to this day most important fruition of his more traditionalist views. Suburban cul-de-sacs are eschewed in favour of traditional streets. In many ways the spaces and the way buildings relate to the street are pretty successful and its good. The neoclassical styling of Poundbury seems regressive to many but seems popular amongst those who live there.
Re Tornagrain, some of the local councillors immediately objected to this plan, claiming residents were 'firmly against' such a proposal and that the density of 10,000 people on less than a square mile was 'unbelievable in the Highlands.
For Scotland, or at least the Tornagrain project, so heterotopic (neo-old) is the New Urbanism that they have begun calling it the old urbanism, or Traditional Urbanism, seeking to emulate town planning and urban design practice from the period before the Second World War. The developers say they hope that Tornagrain will provide ideas and inspiration for other developers around Scotland ( http://www.estatesreview.com/news/comment/expert-housing/article471.html ).
There is an Australian Council for New Urbanism, and it puts out a guide to new urbanist projects ( http://acnu.org/display/project_book.html ). The NSW section of this guide begins with Breakfast Point. It starts off with "Breakfast Point has a rich natural, cultural and historical ‘spirit’ of place". How much of that is just new urbanist rhetoric about spirit of place? For example how can it have rich natural spirit of place when the site's natural surface has been ripped apart (during "remediation"). The surface is very extensively re-shaped (i.e. artificial in form). The the high ground or rise with the Country Club was originally part of Kendall Bay - infilled first in the years of the gas works, and eventually extensively 'over'-filled into a mound shape. As for what's left of Kendall Bay being rich natural spirit of place, it too is not exactly in original natural condition, and still carries a bit of the 'dark sprit' that may strain if not ooze out of sediment cored from the bay. It's best method of "clean up" was still being debated in 2011. Nonetheless the "rich natural, cultural and historical ‘spirit’ of place" would be interesting material for a museum or other display centre, as was indeed called for in the 2002 Masterplan. As late as 2011, however, nobody was easily located who knew of any progress on that. About its predecessor, the nearby Cape Cabarita, the Australian Council for New Urbanism guide states "Cape Cabarita is a pioneering lifestyle resort-style community development comprising some 240 dwellings in six-storey apartment buildings, attached terrace houses and single dwellings. In a simple master planning concept, low buildings address the perimeter with extensive water, park and golf course frontage and views. High buildings are located on the central ridge access road. All apartments have harbour outlooks over and between the perimeter terrace clusters. The consistent architectural theme is a key element in the success of the development. The theme evolved from the maritime location, resort lifestyle precedents, local traditional details, the verandah, porch, shutter and pergola, and the use of white and pastel colours to maximize available light and minimize perceived shadow to outdoor spaces. Attention to architectural and landscape detail all contributes to a unique sense of place".
So with all that talk of precedents and local traditional details the approach is certainly able to be termed neo-traditional (which is what many think new urbanism means - if it means anything at all). However it should be noted that the 'local traditional' details or precedents mentioned are not really local traditions of where the new projects were built. Nothing in the more distant past of Parramatta River or the Inner West looked much like the elements of Breakfast Point or the similar Cape Cabarita. The old 'local traditions' emulated must therefore be ones imported from elsewhere, presumably from America in large part but this is not certain. Exactly what, for example, did the Community Hall that fulfilled the original "ecucmenical chruch" vision at Breakfast Point emulate?
Breakfast Point began as a $1.29 billion development in the new urbanism or "neo-traditional" style. Rosecorp's Bryan Rose travelled all over the US looking at examples of new urbanism, such the Rosecorp might be able to adopt the "core principles" for Breakfast Point.
For Breakfast Point it will be many years before anyone has lived there cradle-to-grave. However Breakfast Point is already looking at having as its ?final stage a "Seniors precinct". Rosecorp is very experienced in building for the elderly and has done the "Landings" development at North Turramurra which is also a rather spectacular place.
View from Breakfast Point (Country Club at left, and oval) looking east. Sydney City and the Harbour Bridge poke above the skyline. In the near
distance is Hen and Chicken bay. The other white cluster on the bay (behind the foreground roadside signboard) is Cape Cabarita
(another Rosecorp luxury waterside development) and the tall chimney seen to the right of that is the Bushell Tea works.
View looking north-easterly over the former gas works area which is now seen as area with light-coloured new housing and considerable open space including a circular area which is known closer up in the two views immediately below.. A marina is also to be added along that perimeter but is now (November 2010) opposed by residents there. It would/will impact on their current fine view over the water.
In this view the wooded point at the right, with a wharf visible at its western tip, is Cabarita Point (and Cabarita Park, a quite old reserve and popular picnic grounds). The narrow point at the left is Mortlake Point. On the northern side of Mortlake Point the white streak of a vessel passing by in the river. The next photo below is taken at Mortlake Point and shows a vessel passing at much the same spot.
Wangal Park at Mortlake Point, viewed head-on (looking SSE) from the river. To the right is Majors Bay. To the
left the old Powerstation building at Breakfast Point can be seen. (Photo: City of Canada Bay, Local Studies)
At Mortlake Point (Wangal Park) looking southeast directly along the Parramatta River. Sydney's city skyline is visible in the distance. Breakfast Point lies directly in front of the tourist boat, and the new development houses are just out of view - but visible immediately beyhone the tree blocking the view at right. (see next photo).Photo: December 2010)
The further view beyond the above tree. Looking directly towards the new housing at Breakfast Point. The
old Powerstation building is seen at the left (eastern) end of the housing. (Photo: December 2010)
Some of the suburbs in Canada Bay LGA. The unlabelled two 'small areas' west of 'Concord'
are 'Concord West' (north) and 'North Strathfield' (south).
The Mortlake gas works in 1920
Mortlake works in 1961 air photo.
The same land cleared and somewhat re-shaped, with the Breakfast Point development well underway, 2004. The village green and community hall area is at upper left and the isolated building at the lower right is the abandonned Powerstation of the former Mortlake gas works which long occupied the site. (Google Earth)
View northeast, from higher ground above the Plumber's shop, over the Blacksmith's Shop (left) and the Powerhouse (right), 2003.
THE WORK OF ARTIST JANE BENNETT - recording Sydney's industrial past as it disappears
Here are notes made by artist Jane Bennett who was painting the scene at the time of the demolition of the CWG retort house:
16 Kamilaroy Road
West Pymble 2073
Tel: (02)9498 6757
Mob: 0437 371 058
Blogs: Industrial Revelation Painting Barangaroo
Painting on site was an endurance test - the distance from where I could park my car to where I wanted to paint was over a kilometre & I had to cart my equipment (folding table & chair, french box easel, trolley luggage with brushes, painting medium, water & lunch) in at least 2, more often 3 trips back & forth. It was especially dangerous after wet weather as there were many holes & channels full of water. The drainage was poor and the surrounding soil was boggy & treacherous. There were many half hidden wires and bits of twisted metal sticking out of the bog, often forcing me to backtrack to find a less dangerous path.
The C.W.G. building had been neatly sliced in half and behind it was a magnificent 40 metre chasm, which had been dug to remove the coal tar residue. The sandstone chasm looked like the Grand Canyon, and there were many other channels dug into the rock. Against it the C.W.G. Building loomed overhead. I had to write myself a 'post it note' to attach to my easel to remind me not to walk backwards to admire my painting!
The C.W.G. building had a resident pair of peregrine falcons, which soon got used to me as Artist in Residence as I would keep still for long periods of time.There were a couple of temporary lakes in front of the ruins, and they attracted enough waterfowl to make Attenborough sick with envy.
Coal tar still bubbled out of the ground in stray patches. One of the most spectacular tomato plants that I had ever seen was growing wild from a pool of pure unadulterated coal tar - it had a stem thicker than my wrist and over 40 of the largest, ripest tomatoes bursting out of their skins! However, I noticed that nothing ate the fruit or the leaves - no pests, no rats, no birds.
The whole site stank of coal tar, especially just after a storm. On a hot day I could feel waves of it rising from the drying rock. It didn't bother me - I have sensitive skin & for many years had to use soap, shampoo & skin products made from coal tar to combat allergies.
The derelict buildings looked spectacular against their backdrop of glorious golden sandstone. The sun made the sandstone appear to glow, especially just before a storm. Often it would start raining in the surrounding suburbs, but the sandstone escarpment seemed to still be bathed in sunshine- the sandstone seemed almost to repel the rain.
One of the major attractions of the C.W.G. building was the mad network of bright red bollards propping up the few remaining walls. There had been so many tunnels dug around under & through it that I knew that there was little possibility of architectural restoration, which sadly proved to be correct. There was a small box attached to its southern wall which was supposed to record the 'stress' or something to which the building was subjected. It had a beacon on top, & I was supposed to evacuate the premises immediately & run away screaming if it started flashing in case the much-abused building decided to give up the ghost & fall on me. The peregrines used to set the beacon off all the time to kill time while they were waiting for an unwary small bird or mouse. After several dozen false alarms, I wrapped a jumper over it, & the peregrines retreated, sulking. I knew that the developers had made up their mind to demolish it, regardless.
I was lucky enough to witness its demolition [the ink drawing at the top of this webpage is of the start of the process - JGB].
The developers laughed at me for drawing it rather than taking photos. However back then, digital cameras were not as tough, reliable or as easy to use as they are now, and their brand new & horribly expensive digital camera didn't work at all. I completed about 8 detailed ink drawings on the day, one of which I later had the pleasure of selling to them.
The exhibition at Breakfast Point Community Hall, 7-13 March 2005.
In the year before her major exhibition at the Community Hall in Breakfast Point, Jane was also asked to display her
artwork of the AGL site at the City of Canada Bay Library (Fivedock) as part of History Week activities.
(Source: District News, 9 September 2004 - article "Casting Light on Local History".)
The City of Canada Bay Library celebrated History Week in 2004 with and exhibition entitled: "CASTING LIGHT - story of the connections across HEN and CHICKEN BAY". One of the connections considered was how AGL had relocated across Hen and Chicken Bay from its Five Dock site to its Mortlake site.
MORTLAKE WATERFRONT REDEVELOPMENT STARTED ABOUT 1988
All gas making at Mortlake gradually declined and the plant was closed in 1990. The staff at Mortlake were not completely aware that the place would close and be disposed of before 1990 when closure was officially announced and a closure ceremony held during that year.
The site was sold to Rosecorp pty Ltd in 1998 and remediation and redevelopment planning commenced.
The rise of plush new waterfront housing along Sydney's waterways began last millenium such that almost nobody now remembers how it all first happened, or where the first glimmers of it arose. However, at Mortlake the gas works redevelopment was not the first sign of the 'new suburbia' arising. All gas making at Mortlake had gradually declined and ceased by 1990 and the gasworks sat largely deserted and moribund it seem, till the site was purchased by Rosecorp in 1988. However, perhaps in anticipation of general "gentification" of the area other industrial land along the tip of the peninsula was being developed too and offered new homes ahead of Breakfast Point. Those releases were called "Green Point" estate, and perhaps other names too. There should probably be (but is yet to be found) considerable said about this by Concord Council as this was perhaps where the Council first expressed ideals for waterside developments that it later considered Concord would be justly proud of - especially securing waterfront access pathways for the public for all along the river. Concord (later Canada Bay) LGA has probably achieved this better than the authorities on the opposite (northern) side of the Parramatta River. Breakfast Point development/suburb has superb public access all around it.
At the time of the first luxury waterfront housing going in (Green Point houses) the Council per Mayor Peter Woods was strong in praise of the new trends.
The grandeur of new housing along the waterfront in Concord has indeed won great praise and appreciation from many quarters, and the style of new developments remediating former industrial land was first highly praised by the local Council (by Mayor Peter Woods).
Later on, however, there would be falling-outs with Council, and eventually with a sizeable number of the Breakfast Point development's own residents over the proposed large size and scope (commencial rather than just for residents) final proposal for the planned marina. Episodes of disquiet arose largely over matters of communication and what seemed to be a series of magnitude increases in the development. The most widespread or publicised disquiet came to be over the matter of the marina. The site after as AGL left it was endowed with a large and seemingly sound/useful wharf or jetty in Kendall Bay as can be seen in the above 2004 Google Earth image. From the start of redevelopment thinking, AGL and later on Rosecorp, envisaged thaqt the wharf could be put to good use and boats moored around it, i.e. a marina. However, because the maritime authorities refused the necessary modification permission which Rosecorp requested the latter had the wharf demolished (but the plan for a marina in the same position was never abandonned). Meanwhile, as can also be seen in the above 2004 image, some of the finest housing was first established along the Kendall Bay shoreline at this point - set back a little from the water enough to generously allow for pedestrian access along the waterfront but nonetheless all with fine water views (the second row of housing being high rise and able to look out over the roofs of the first row - see ground level images below). A marina was always part of the planning and home buyers would have known that. Breakfast Pont development's predecessor, by the same developer, was the nearby Cape Cabarita estate which has a small very tasteful marina built for the use of residents. Breakfast Point residents today claim that this what they were lead to expect for "their" marina when buying into Breakfast Point, but as eventually applied for (to Department of Planning in 2010) the marina was a large commercial type one which many of the residents thought could only bring them more worries than joy - and would totally spoil the water views because of the large magnitude of the development. More details of this are below.
Even alongside Peter Wood's early enthusiasm for the "style" of redevelopment there was also some early conflict. There is said (details as yet unknown) to have been in 1988 an initial bitter dispute between Concord Council and the NSW Government in regard to the general scale of development - with Concord Council wanting a lower number of new residents for the gas works or 'Breakfast Point' area (There is some reference to this at http://www.realestateagent.com.au/news/2000/4/20/breakfast-time).
All seemed to be well by 1992 however. The "Western Sydney Business Review" on the front page of its 15 June 1992 issue (Vol. 4, No. 11) headlined "Waterfront living comes to Western Sydney" as the theme of that issue. This was in reference to the new "Green Point" housing development of a row of new houses constructed very close to the water along the western side of the tip of Mortlake Peninsula.
Wangal Park and modern housing along the western side of Mortlake Point (exact location of top photo uncertain, may be eastern side?)
In the 1992 "Western Sydney Business Review" issue abovementioned, the Concord Mayor, Peter Woods, called Green Point "urban consollidation at its best " and noted that the next move for Mortlake would be the redevelopment of the AGL gasworks nearby. He saw this as the start of a move to clean up the 'industrial scars' of Mortlake, and to open up "a new vista of modern residential development with superb waterfront views". Woods added that the AGL site was "the biggest redevelopment site in Sydney". This was the year, 1992, when AGL applied to Concord Council to rename their site as "Breakfast Point". This place name, of designated suburb status, was duly assigned on 16th April 1993 by the Geographic Names Board (GNB File: GNB3555).
The Western Sydney Business Review reported that Mortlake was to become a 'sanctuary' for waterfront-parkland living. The first home prices, it said, would average $750,000 but were soon expected to soar 'once the AGL site redevelopment got underway'. Thus even before it happened the AGL redevelopment was looked to in the real estate industry as a coming boom.
That year, 1992, was also the year when Concord Council approved the demolition of the gasholders there.
Although Council, or at least Mayor Peter Woods, was initially jubilant about the new luxury homes and apartments replacing 'industrial scars' along the waterfront and all at first seemed clear sailing ahead, the waters of big development in Concord LGA would grow murkier and the sailing ahead not without major tosses and turns in the times ahead. This would see the Concord Council, later City of Canada Bay Council, found guilty of "vice" after one four year court case (about which case Parliament was told, in 1996, that Council had misled and lied to the court; that the Council had deliberately fabricated some evidence and concealed other evidence; and so on, amounting to "total deception").
The particular dealings in which Council was found to have behaved illegally, and was accused in Parliament or assorted misbehaviour, are in regard to the land known as the Golden Triangle. This is well away from the River however the outcomes include that Canada Bay Council already has a history of compromising or sacrificing heritage for monetary gain. More details of the Golden Triangle case are found below.
THE ROSE GROUP FLAGSHIP OF 'LIFESTYLE COMMUNITIES'
This webpage is companion to another one treating other nearby similar developments of former industry land into luxury housing along the Parramatta River (at Cabarita, Cape Cabarita, Exile/Canada Bays - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/parra-r-lux-housing.htm ). Particularly a close cousin of Breakfast Point is the "Cape Cabarita" development at Harmony Point, nearby in Hen and Chicken Bay.
Sydney Morning Herald
Thursday April 20, 2000
An old industrial site in Mortlake is being transformed into a new suburb.
WHEN Rosecorp bought the AGL site at Breakfast Point in Mortlake - reputedly the biggest single piece of waterfront land in Sydney offered in the 20th century - for a rumoured $150 million early last year, the family-run company took a leap into the Very Big League as it won out over giants like Walker Corp, Multiplex and IPM.
....... Rosecorp probably won a few more brownie points when it reduced the number of dwellings from the previously approved 2,200. The site was the subject of a bitter dispute between Concord Council and the NSW Government in 1998, with the State Government plumping for the higher number. (Concord Council's mayor, Peter Woods, said at the time: "We are not having the bloody government or anyone else destroying people's quality of life.")
Heritage enthusiasts will be relieved to hear that Rosecorp is intending to retain and refurbish the heritage-listed buildings (and one that isn't listed), including plumbers' workshops and the blacksmith's shop.
...... While every developer of waterfront land puts in boardwalks and bicycle paths and all that stuff, Rosecorp is also putting in an ecumenical church, a rowing club open to the public and a country club.
The Breakfast Point project, which is expected to be completed in eight to 10 years, has an estimated value of about $1 billion. It is one of dozens of often derelict industrial sites along riverfronts in Sydney that developers are transforming into housing estates.
Rose Corp. philosophy, as expressed by Mr Bob Rose in 2002. Although they may be removing the old
industrial heritage, they would be creating high class heritage of the future - "Tomorrow's heritage".
Pathway to the community/'ecumenical' hall at Breakfast Point's Village Green.
THE TALES OF POLITICAL LOBBYING
One of the best known name associated with these developments is that of Mr Bob Rose, the chief executive officer of Rose Property Group. Rose Group probably became the best known developer in NSW after a deal concerning Catherine Hill Bay development that it did with the NSW Minister for Planning, Mr Sartor, was labelled a "bribe" by a Judge, and Mr Sartor afterwards became one of a growing series of NSW government ministers to undergo sudden departure from his position.
The lobbying was described in an article by Alex Mitchell in the Sun Herald on 21 February 2007. The relevant portions are below:
The State Government and a property pressure group are too close for comfort. Major property developers used to be in awe of high-powered political lobbying of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) and Clubs NSW. So much so that they formed their own umbrella organization to grab the attention of the State Government on planning and development issues. They called it the NSW Urban Taskforce, a cleverly crafted name giving the impression of a semi-official government body. In reality it is controlled by a who’s who of Sydney developers. They include multi-millionaires on BRW’s Top 200 rich list as well as representatives of publicly listed companies in the stockmarket’s top 100 .....
Founded in 1999, the Taskforce has impeccable ALP credentials with former premier Neville Wran as its founding patron. Its offices are on the 12th level on a city block in Martin Place, the same address as KWC Capital Partners, the finance firm run by David Tanevski, a long time labor supporter. With membership capped at 70 firms, the Taskforce provides them with direct lobbying services to advance their pet rezoning and development projects.
While the industry’s peak body remains the Property Council of Australia (PCA), founded in 1969, with more than 1200 members, including Leightons, Stockland, Meriton, Lendlease, Mirvac, Investa, Westfield Group, ING and DB Reef, the Urban Taskforce has emerged in the past two years as a swaggering lobby group with a “can do” approach.
Its chairman is Bob Rose, CEO of family owned Rosecorp Pty Ltd which has developed the upper Sydney harborfront villiage at Breakfast Point and the nearby Cape Cabarita residential community. He also owns the Landings Retirement village at Turramurra and is on target to develop an upmarket 600-resident waterfront precinct on the shores of Catherine Hill Bay on an old company coal-mining town site on the Central Coast.
The Taskforce’s Executive Committee makes for interesting reading. So does the Taskforce’s Farifield connections. The CEO is Terry Barnes who was general manager of Labor-controlled Fairfield City Council for 12 Years. In 1999 he became general manager of Parramatta City Council and after the 2003 state election he was promoted meteorically by housing minister Carl Scully to be Director General of the Department of Housing. Last year he switched to the highly paid Urban Taskforce job to push the developers’ campaign, increase their influence on Labor Government and beat the drum of the property industry......
Last November when the government rushed through amendments to environmental planning legislation to assist the approval process for large-scale property developments, Barnes was an enthusiastic supporter while Green MPs fumed ....
As David Poole, former executive Director of the Urban Development Institute of Australia says: The Taskforce is “the footpath” between the development industry and the Labor Party. “It is a creature of the over-politicised planning system in NSW.”
The Urban Taskforce Australia was formed in 1999 with the Hon. Neville Wran AC QC as patron, but since the above article by Alex Mitchell was written the patron has changed to former NSW Premier the Hon. Nick Greiner AC. The Urban Taskforce in 2010 declared Mr Bob Rose "The Property Person of the Year" ( http://www.urbantaskforce.com.au/propertyperson.php )
Mr Rose had been Chairman of the Urban Taskforce Australia between 2003 and 2009. In making the award, the following points were made concerning Mr Rose's construction achievements:
- Bob Rose created inspiring new communities. He hasn’t been afraid to take risks and innovate. His developments have established new standards for reinvigorating tired urban landscapes. He’s been an innovator in the use of open space and design.
- Bob Rose is known for his high standards and commitment to quality. He led the way in the ‘triple bottom line’ approach – focusing on financial viability, environmental integrity and social consciousness.
- Bob Rose isn’t just a successful businessman - he’s worked hard to support philanthropic causes. Bob’s been a tireless backer of Warrah Disability Services, the St Vincent’s Prostate Cancer Centre and other charitable causes.
- Under Bob Rose’s leadership, his family company, Rose Group, has been a pioneer in land remediation and a leader in the development of lifestyle communities. The Cape Cabarita development was created on a 7.5 hectare waterfront property, formerly occupied by Wellcome Pharmaceutical, which required remediation.
- Rose Group built on this success with their purchase of the 52 hectare AGL site at Mortlake – which has been transformed into the new Breakfast Point community. Breakfast Point, a joint venture with Cbus, is truly unique, with 1.5 kilometres of waterfront walk, massive areas of manicured parkland, first-rate community facilities and lifestyle. Ultimately, Breakfast Point will be home to 5,000 people. Its sixteen year development program is in its eleventh year and right on target.
- In the last two years, Rose Group has released eight new buildings at Breakfast Point, including Cypress (31 homes); Maple (21 homes); Jacaranda (30 homes); Indigo and Magnolia (98 homes in two five storey towers); The Silkstone (45 homes) and Verandahs on the Bay (a small, exclusive harbour front building of 21 luxury homes). Sales have been exceptionally strong. At present the Rose Group has 212 apartments under construction at Breakfast Point.
- The Rose Group has also been busy in China over the last three years. After achieving development consent for a 250,000 square metre mixed use development in Hefei it sold its 50 per cent interest in the projects so it could concentrate on its various residential projects in and around Sydney.
In 2008 Bob Rose had also been honoured with an Order of Australia for his contribution for service to the building and construction industry and to the community, including his support for a range of charitable organisations.
The Catherine Hill Bay continued into 2011, involving State government overuling of council planning, in order to allow denser development.
Another case of part 3A dispute in early 2011 was in North Sydney, where the Planning Minister's decision to allow a 31-storey tower at 177-199 Pacific Highway was twice the height/density of what the council rules permitted. The Minister said the tower would have "important employment-generating capacity", and conceded it was inconsistent with Council's existing planning controls (Sydney Morning Herald 25 January 2011, page NEWS 7). The Council was also concerned about how Don Bank, a 1800s timber slab farmhouse with gardens that is now preserved as a museum on the opposite side of the highway, will be overshadowed. This was another case of a "part 3A" casting aside of Council powers; apparently one of many.
The widespread discontent over Part 3A eventually lead to the Liberal Party promising to scrap, as the following report showed:
Sydney Morning Herald
Liberal plan may block Catherine Hill Bay
Damon CronshawJanuary 5, 2011
ROSE GROUP'S plan for a 554-lot subdivision at Catherine Hill Bay is in jeopardy if the Coalition wins the March election.
The NSW Planning Department is assessing Rose Group's plan under Labor's part 3A planning powers.
The Liberals have promised to scrap the part 3A law and hand power back to councils.
Lake Macquarie City Council has always opposed Rose Group's plans at Catherine Hill Bay, south of Newcastle.
The Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, would not say whether he would make a decision on the development before the election.
But comments from his office indicated a decision was unlikely.
The Catherine Hill Bay Progress Association was concerned Mr Kelly would approve the plan before the election. ''We fear it will be pushed through quickly in a rush,'' the president, Sue Whyte, said.
Mr Kelly's spokesman said it was not possible to speculate on when a decision will be made, ''partly because the developer will be asked to respond to submissions and the NSW government can't comment on how long this might take''. Mr Kelly said Rose Group's plan would be sent to the planning assessment commission for determination and his department would accept public comment on the plan until February 7.
The Liberal candidate for Swansea, a Lake Macquarie councillor, Garry Edwards, said Rose Group's plans for Catherine Hill Bay were ''always too grand a scale, too big''.
''The residents must accept some development down there, but they don't have to accept what's being proposed,'' Cr Edwards said.
The Liberal Party action plan said it was committed to ''returning local planning powers to local communities through their councils … We will scrap part 3A''.
The Liberals would begin ''an overhaul of the planning system soon after March 2011''.
Rose Group was forced to submit its latest plan to the Planning Department after a land deal between the developer and the government was ruled illegal.
The Land and Environment Court said in September 2009 that the deal, which involved development rights in exchange for environmental land, was a ''land bribe''.
( http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/liberal-plan-may-block-catherine-hill-bay-20110104-19f5f.html )
REMOVING BREAKFAST POINT DEVELOPMENT APPROVAL FROM THE LOCAL COUNCIL
At few if any places on earth can everyone agree on anything. Some are bound to see just about all "new urbanism" as "over-development".
Rosecorp's plans at Catherine Hill Bay have been widely viewed by locals and others as over-development. Individual councillor perceptions of Rosecorp doing overdevelopment at Breakfast Point began as early as 2001 and later on it apparently became the dominant council view that certain overdevelopment was happening. This lead to frictions, and to some court cases commencing.
Councillor concerns about over-development at the site perhaps began with Cr Megan Lavender who in 2001 stated "The proliferation of high rise and overdevelopment will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the amenity and quality of life enjoyed by local residents".
At the time of Cr Lavender making such statement Rosecorp replied that this ("overdevelopment") was not the case and that the 'Department of Urban Affairs' had approved of up to 2,078 dwellings being built on the 52 hectare site whereas Rosecorp had opted to build only 1,650 ( Drummoyne, Five Dock and Concord Village Voice, August 2001).
In The Glebe (25/7/2001) Rosecorp stated that "the local environment plan allows for 2,070 townhouses and 50,000 sq. m. of commercial development" but that it (Rosecorp) was planning only for 1,650 units and 5,000 sq. m. of 50 . retail space ---- such that "only 20 to 25 percent of the site will be covered by buildings". Mr Robert Rose further denied any overdevelopment, saying "We seriously believe that the site is so good it would be a shame to over-develop it". He added: "In no case will we exceed the floor space index, nor will we ask for more density".
Similarly, Mr Bryan Rose of Rosecorp said "at no time will we ask for more density" ( Drummoyne, Five Dock and Concord Village Voice, August 2001).
This was not to be so, however, for Rosecorp later on did ask for and get an increase to well above 1,650 as the number of dwellings - and also to above the 2,078 figure as well. This occurred in 2005. The 1,650 figure is as in the adopted Breakfast Point Master Plan of 1999. That cited 1,650 residential dwellings and 18, 800 sq. m. of commercial uses. The Breakfast Point Master Plan was amended in 2002 to allow for 1,865 dwellings as commercial use requirements had reduced to 12,300 sq. m. The big increase, however, came in 2005 after the State government takeover of project approval from Council. On 16 September 2005, the same newspaper (Drummoyne, Five Dock and Concord Village Voice) reported:
The State Government takeover - "Council reels as State takes over Breakfast Point".
According to that press report, the State government had seized control of Breakfast Point, accusing Canada Bay Council of stalling the huge waterfront development. Rosecorp also claimed that the Council was changing the ground rules, apart from causing it delays and extra cost burden. The decision stripped council of all planning powers and made the government the sole consent authority.
Planning Minister, the Hon. Frank Sartor MP, held a press conference to announce his takeover of Breakfast Point development planning approval on the morning of 31 August 2005.
The press conference was held somewhere on site, at Breakfast Point.
The press were obviously invited but it is not sure if Council was invited to hear the announcement (apparently they weren't?).
Canada Bay Mayor Angelo Tsirenkas said the announcement that the government would be taking control of the development had come as a surprise to council.
However, the Council had been invited to meet Mr Sartor somewhere on 30 August 2005 to discuss Breakfast Point. It is so far unknown if the minister fully made clear his intention, at that meeting, to take over Breakfast Point the next morning.
According to Council, clear formal notification of the Minister's intention (or action - when did he sign the documentation?) was given to the Press (at the press conference referred to) prior to anything arriving at Council. It is not known when Council did receive formal notification of the takeover.
The day when Mr. Sartor called for the Mayor was the same day that Council commenced its defence in the Land and Environment Court on 11 cases of appeal against it by Rosecorp over Council's non-approval of Rosecorp DA matters.
The coincidence of when Mr Sartor called in the Council, on the same day as court proceedings started, might suggest that Mr Sartor had been asked to intervene - maybe to giver the Council and ultimatum, however it is not known exactly what occurred at that meeting on the day before Mr Sartor exercised his takeover powers - powers which some think Rosecorp or its associated entities may have been previously engaged in the drafting of.
Commenting later on about the takeover, Mr Brian Rose of Rosecorp stated that "Council was belligerently opposing the development" (Inner West Courier, 20 December 2005). Rosecorp, and others, maintained that a lot of employment, work for many people, was involved in all this; and that Council had been holding it up, perhaps even jeopardising it, for no good reason. Critics of the Council cited "450-day delays" that were said to have "begun to occur" under Council's jurisdiction.
Some of the council, the mayor especially, 'doubted' that the takeover occurred for any reasons apart from 'political' influence. The newspaper reported that the takeover was the first such to occur since the introduction of new legislation in May of that year to allow for such action (part of the 'Sartor reforms'?).
Rosecorp presented a new Concept Plan to the Minister for approval. In a more or less 'repeat play' of the Council claiming that State Government takeover of the development area's planning came as a surprise to council, when the Minister approved the Concept Plan, Council apparently was not informed in any way before the general public announcement - which once again irritated the Council. In a front page article headlined "Mayor outraged", written by Stephan Ryan, for the Inner-West Weekly of 20 April 2006 it is stated how Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said the Department of Planning had approved the Rosecorp new Concept Plan "without notifying council of its decision before it was generally released". However, Mr Ryan's article then added: "A planning Department spokesman denied the claim". So what is actually the truth of that? The State Government was asked to clarify this, just exactly what had happened in this regard, in February 2011.
After the State Government takeover, the Council expressed 'concern and confusion' (Drummoyne, Five Dock and Concord Village Voice, 14 October 2006). The main councillor who was quoted by the newspapers, conveying Council's views about Breakfast Point, was the Mayor Cr. Tsirekas. However, another councillor, Cr. Bernard Rooney is also found quoted in some newspapers, expressing the same view. Cr. Rooney by 2006 was feeling that Breakfast Point was becoming an "overdevelopment". Others did not quite say that but many community views at the time feared overdevelopment.
The takeover on 31 August 2006 occurred "following lobbying by local State MP Angela D'Amore according to the 2010 book "Multi-owned housing" by Sarah Blandy, Ann Dupuis, and Jennifer Dixon ( Ashgate Publishing, Ltd ), p.154.
With the controversial marina proposal, the residents opposed to the marina ( viz. http://www.savekendallbay.com/page13.html ) stated: Q: What are the local member, Angela D’Amore, and the State Government doing about this proposal and how much have Breakfast Point Pty Ltd paid them? A: Our local member, Angela D'Amore, has been asked to support the community and to oppose the marina. She has steadfastly refused to declare her hand. The State Government supports its developer mates, in this case Breakfast Point Pty Ltd. The outlook is very pessimistic ". After a public meeting about the marina proposal, the Mayor of Burwood, Mr John Sidoti (Libreral, and keen to replace Ms D'Amore as MP for the area) said that despite close to 300 people attending the meeting at the Massey Park Golf Club to voice their objections to the plan, Angela D’Amore (Labor) did not even show up. “It demonstrated the highest degree of contempt for her constituents that the local Labor Member couldn’t even show her face and explain why she feels the community doesn’t deserve to make the decision on the future of the marina,” said Mr. Sidoti (2 November 2010). In December 2010, Angela D'Amore was suspended from the ruling Labor Party, because of a decision that she had engaged in corrupt conduct, following an ICAC investigation. Ms D'Amore, who is the sister-in-law of one of the most controversial Labor MPs, Joe Tripodi, indicated she would appleal against the graft finding, in an effort to clear her name. At the same time the government is considering bringing criminal charges against her (as at 11 February 2011).
Despite the abovementioned complaints from the anti-marina campaigners about her 'refusing to declare her hand', Ms D'Amore from time to time actually has issued denials that she was ever in the grasp of developers and has made strong statements that she worked for residents' interests and much opposed overdevelopment etc. For example, on 29 October 2010, Ms D'Amore declared that she was "against Canada Bay Council recommendation to approve overdevelopment at Rhodes" (sic). She stated ( http://www.angeladamore.com/media24.html ): "This week, seven Canada Bay Councillors voted to approve the 25 storey residential towers at Rhodes. (Mayor Tsirekas, Deputy Mayor O'Connell, councillors Cester, Fasanella, McCaffrey, Megna & O'Hara voted in favour to adopt Rhodes West). Pauline Tyrrell was the only Councillor who is standing with residents against this absurd overdevelopment of our suburbs. As the local member of parliament I will continue to fight on my behalf of our community to stop 25 storey residential towers in our suburbs."
On 1 September 2010, Ms D'Amore spoke in NSW Parliament voicing concerns on behalf of residents objecting to Canada Bay Council's proposal to vary the Rhodes Master Plan to allow developers to build 25 storey residential skyscrapers. She stated "The suburb of Rhodes and surrounding areas have accepted their fair share of additional housing; Canada Bay council's proposal is clearly a massive overdevelopment of the area. Let us be clear here: there is no precedent for 25-storey residential towers anywhere in the local suburbs of my electorate. If developers and council get their way, this will open the door for 25-storey residential towers to be built in any one of my suburbs. As the local member, in February and July I held two community meetings with residents to discuss the proposal. Those meetings were very well attended. Overwhelmingly, my community is against Canada Bay council's proposal to increase housing density to 25 storeys...". Hence the situation was contradictory, with many over a considerable timespan accusing her of encouraging overdevelopment but with the MP herself proclaiming that she was opposed to overdevelopment. She clearly did reflect what the community thought about massive high rise at Rhodes. Why she never did the same in regard to the equally clear community opposition to the Inner West Marina proposal has never been adequately explained.
According to Debra Jopson (Sydney Morning Herald 5 May 2008), Ms D'Amore "did not declare a donation which the development company Rosecorp said it made to her campaign in its returns to the state election funding watchdog for last year's election, after it got planning approval for a $28 million project in her Drummoyne electorate. Ms D'Amore had enthusiastically supported the development being taken out of the hands of the local council in a speech to State Parliament ..." ( http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/no-record-of-donation-from-developer/2008/05/04/1209839456334.html ). For more on that matter, the SMH reported "Ms D'Amore could not be contacted". The undeclared donation was, however, only a relatively small amount ($4,000), unlikely to have influenced anyone all that much.
Ms D'Amore was probably never a strong or definitive force in NSW politics; and the frequently evident lack of attention to detail/substance from her, or from her office, did not show any great potential for improvement. The thought found expressed in the 2010 book "Multi-owned housing" by Sarah Blandy, Ann Dupuis, and Jennifer Dixon (2010) that her lobbying had been pivotal with MP Frank Sartor is not highly convincing. Doing things properly was never a strong point of the media from the State Seat of Drummoyne, and lack of checking was often evident, e.g.:
2 March 2010 - http://www.angeladamore.com/media18.html
Ms D'Amore was investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) over allegations that she'd authorised false expense claims. Her defence lawyer told the corruption enquiry that Angela had not been trained in filling out expense claim forms correctly, and that she hadn't read the relevant policy documents. This did not succeed in getting the matter dropped. The anti-corruption commissioner (David Ipp) did not accept that MPs needed training to understand the need for person names put in form boxes to reflect truthfully the right identity of a person.
The mayor, Cr Tsirekas, according to a 16 September 2005 newspaper report about the State takeover of planning power dismissed the suggestion by Minister Sartor that council has been dragging its feet. Rosecorp via a spokesperson, asserted in the newspaper article that council had "changed the Masterplan that had already been approved" and had hence moved the goal-posts at a later stage. Council was emphatic that this was untrue; however on 10 November 2005 this accusation about Council changing the goal-posts or rules midstream cropped up again in Parliament spoken by Ms D'Amore: "The council also indicated it would change floor-space ratios on site, effectively increasing the building heights in development away from the water's edge. This could potentially reduce the views from the originally planned apartments, many of which had already been sold off the plan. People who bought these apartments did so in good faith, expecting that the promised views from their windows would be delivered .... the decision to change the development rules midstream, endangered the delivery of the entire project. This would have cost Sydney much-needed housing for 5,000 people, as well as hundreds of construction jobs, and left the surrounding suburbs in a state of disarray, not knowing when the site would be completed".
Perhaps there is some truth in both versions. The assertion that Council "had" changed the Masterplan was vigourously denied, the Mayor saying how Council had stayed faithful to the Masterplan and that it was the developer who was changing it. However, Ms D'Amore's version has it that Council had indicated it was going to do changes. Local Breakfast Point legend/rumour has it that Council was planning to introduce a "new masterplan", and hence that Council was actually planning to change the masterplan - but that Rosecorp prevented such from occurring by calling on Mr Sartor to implement a Part 3A takeover. It has so far been beyond the ability of this writer to plumb the bottom of this matter - of developer and supporters saying the Council was changing the rules (of the Masterplan?) and the Council seeming to have declared the opposite, that it was the developer seeking to change the agreed rules (Masterplan conditions). The above local rumour, if true, would explain how each side of the story may have significant meaning rather than either of them being sheer nonsense.
According to the Council version (Council records 18 April 2006) what had transpired was that during 2004 and 2005 Council had raised with Rosecorp concern that its development plans had become inconsistent with the 2002 Breakfast Point Masterplan - as Rosecorp put in DAs on advancing components of the project. Council maintained that rather than resolving Council's concerns "through the development application process, the applicant, Rosecorp, chose to lodge some 12 appeals in the Land and Environment Court". Immediately following Minister Sartor's takeover of the project's consent process, Rosecorp withdrew all 12 applications from the Land and Environment Court.
The Council meeting records of 18 April 2006 also noted how the outcome of control over project approval power being given to Minister Sartor was that Rosecorp submitted a new Breakfast Point Concept and this was approved. This allowed for increased density relative to the 2002 Masterplan equating to an additional 200 extra units.
Rosecorp's contention that Council "changed the Masterplan" is unexplained, unless it is a perhaps a reference to the Development Control Plan which Council drafted for Breakfast Pointd in 2005. The DCP, however, had not changed the density provisions or maximum number of units allowed (1,865).
Council has maintained (18 April 2006 records) that once Minister Sartor had control, Rosecorp submitted to him a new concept plan which by Council wording had "radical departures" to the development controls that applied to Breakfast Point - increasing the amount and intensity of the development, and also failing to any longer ensure certain commitments which had been given under earlier processes and planning instruments. Council denied the statement given to the Press by a Rosecorp representative that it had changed the 2002 Masterplan. Council maintained that the opposite was true, that it was the developer who via a new concept plan approved by the Minister "actually did alter the rules, to the benefit of the developer with impacts to be borne by the community" (Council meeting agenda papers, 18 April 2006).
This was also noted on the Council's website that year (on 26/10/2006), where matters were stated as follows: "Despite immense opposition by Council and the community, the Minister has granted an increase in floor space for the developer, Rosecorp, from 0.6:1 to 0.65:1 with a potential to go to 0.67:1. This represents a windfall gain of 200 additional units over and above the 1,865 originally approved by Council in the Breakfast Point Masterplan in 2002".
The new concept plan increased maximum allowable dwellings from the 2002 Masterplan figure of 1,865 to a new maximum of 2073.
In comparing the concept plan with the Masterplan, Rosecorp stated in 2006: "The Concept Plan was also prepared in different market conditions to the Masterplan, it is natural that a commercial undertaking would wish to fine tune its proposal after a 4 year period. Changes are not considered to be substantial".
Council also noted that the new concept plan "distanced itself from the establishment of a suitable ferry wharf". Interestingly, the original wharf (once envisaged by AGL as potentially good for a ferry wharf and tiny commercial/retail/restaurant hub) was demolished (as having no viable use) but years later in the same place a large "Inner West" catchment marina was proposed by Rosecorp. This alarmed even many of the estate's new residents and was again spoken against by the Mayor.
As with Lake Macquarie Council, the conflicts between Rosecorp and the local council for the Breakfast Point development seem largely to have revolved around scale of development - i.e. Council welcomed the development itself but baulked at matters involving scale and infrastructure capability.
Rosecorp complained of local council delays, which may have been costing it dearly, and successfully had the State largely take over the major planning matters for Breakfast Point.
It seems quite likely that this did not please the local council and may have embittered it somewhat against Rosecorp(?). Councillors themselves, however, when asked about Breakfast Point in 2010 appeared to know very little indeed; apart from at least two mayors who have had considerable to say on development. The current mayor has been quite vocal on a number of occasions about Breakfast Point matters. He most recently has been opposing the developer's desire for an Inner West Marina to be built at Breakfast Point. One other Inner West ex-politican, however, has publicly claimed that the Mayor is only putting on a 'show' of opposition and actually desires the opposite, etc. Thus it is difficult to know what really goes on at times - which is by no means unique to Breakfast Point, as conflicts about major developments have occurred at other places in Sydney's Inner West too, notably at Strathfield Triangle which is also in the same municipality.
Bob Rose was chairman for several years ( 2003-2009) of the Urban Taskforce, the group thought by some commentators to have been behind NSW government creating a developer-friendly raft of planning law 'reforms' (also known as the Sartor 'Plan for Planning'). Bob Rose began his property business about 1960. In 2008 he was honoured with an Order of Australia award for his business achievements and his philanthropy or community service (support for a range of charitable organisations).
Rosecorp, established in 1983 by Rose and his wife Margaret, undertook the Breakfast Point making of a mini-suburb as a joint venture with C+BUS, the construction industry’s superannuation fund. The development, on a 52-hectare site that was once home to the AGL's Mortlake gasworks, was scheduled to take nine years to complete, with 1650 dwellings and retail, commercial and recreational.
Construction commenced in 1999 and by the end of 2005 it was about 50% complete. The building was expected to be complete about 2010 and is now a little behind initial target, plus will still be selling for some time after completion. For decades the Roses have been developing prestige homes, industrial land subdivisions and commercial and retail developments. At the nearby other big residential development of a similar nature, Cape Cabarita, Rose bought out his joint-venture partner, Continental Venture Capital, from the nearly completed project. Successful planning features of Cape Cabarita were enlarged upon for the Breakfast Point project.
The Cape Cabarita and Breakfast Point developments by Rose Group have been hailed as creations of 'new communities' that path-blazed the reinvigoration of 'tired urban landscapes'. The land concerned required considerable attention on account of possible contamination with chemical, prior to house building.
Rose Group has proclaimed it corporate way as being one of the ‘triple bottom line’ approach – focusing on financial viability, environmental integrity and social consciousness (the social consciousness is manifest by support of philanthropic causes, and also by some attempts to engender community spirit in the new housing developments).
The word 'lifestyle' has featured in all the promotion and marketing of these properties. For example, the earlier Rose Group development of 'Cape Cabarita' estate is typically described thus: 'Surrounded by lifestyle/resort amenities of tennis courts, gymnasiums, swimming pools, water side walking tracks and you own restaurant including a very active network of social & interest' groups, Cape Cabarita will enrich and improve your lifestyle'. The Cape Cabarita development was created on 7.5 ha of waterfront property last occupied by Wellcome Pharmaceutical, successor of the earlier Coopers factory there (Coopers were best known as manufacturers of sheep dip).
Rose Group built on their successful Cape Cabarita development, then one of the most spectacular anywhere in NSW, with their purchase of the 52 ha area Australian Gas Light site at Mortlake – which they began transforming into the new Breakfast Point community.
The Breakfast Point development is not solely Rose Group, rather it is a fifteen year joint venture with Cbus, and ultimately some 5,000 people will live on the Breakfast Point estate or mini-suburb.
The Rose-Cbus joint venture promoted Breakfast Point as truly unique, with 1.5 kilometres of waterfront walk, 'massive' areas of manufactured and perfectly manicured parkland, first-rate community facilities. and first rate luxurious 'lifestyle'.
In 2008-1010, the Breakfast Point development released eight new multi-occupancy buildings - including Cypress (31 homes); Maple (21 homes); Jacaranda (30 homes); Indigo and Magnolia (98 homes in two five storey towers); The Silkstone (45 homes) and Verandahs on the Bay (a smaller 'harbour front' building of 21 luxury homes).
The Rose Group also expanded to China around 2007, beginning with a development in Hefei.
Breakfast Point is the epitome of other similar high density luxury housing developments over recent decades in Canada Bay LGA ( Mortlake was formerly in Concord Municipality until a local government amalgamation created the 'City of Canada Bay'.
A number of other similar areas are shown in http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/parra-r-lux-housing.htm (showing developments at nearby Cabarita, and Cape Cabarita (Harmony Point), and at the slightly more disant Exile/Canada Bays).
All these estates contain a variety of housing types. Generally, the housing might be divided into three categories:
* Large appartment blocks, conjoined houses in rows, free-standing single or joint occupancy types.
The apartment blocks are the largest buildings to be found in these estates and they tend to have been placed centrally. Rows of terrace-house of 'town-house' conjoined housing generally run along shoreline in front of the central large apartment houses - sometimes termed 'Harbour Homes'. A lesser number of totally free-standing buildings of various styles may also be present. Brief consideration of the housing types
At least in the case of Cape Cabarita estate, the apartments within the large apartment blocks are also subdivided into three categories,
Garden Apartments (ground level)
Upper Level Apartments (other levels)
Two-storey Penthouses (top level and most luxurious of all apartment units available)
Opened for sale in 2001, Breakfast Point had about 800 new settlers of the land's post-industrial phase by 2006. The dominant age group then was 40-60 and a later phase of development put for approval in 2010 was to establish a "Seniors" precinct which would offer special care facilities for older people. Rosecorp also actively sought to attract younger family buyers in the 30s age bracket.
In 2006 the quarterly strata levies (including a community levy) ranged from $600 for one-bedder units to $2000 for townhouses.
An interesting thing about these estates over last decade or so has been the increasing scale of moves to encourage a community feeling at them. This saw a modest sized "Village Green" (with swimming pool and tennis courts for residents use) established at Cape Cabarita - and such trend expanded at Breakfast Point into a much larger "Village Green" community focus area complete with a village "Hall" built in an attractive old-world style and a "Country Club" that likewise adds to a sense/illusion of long establishment.
High-rise housing along the waterfront (Hunters Wharf, Peninsula Drive). The development is bounded by sandstone block seawalls and pedestrian walkway.
Note in the aerial view how a special shoreline landscaping feature had been constructed here at the would later later be proposed for the
public jetty of the Inner West Marina development, which ended up very controversial.
Another view of the same three big appartment blocks at Hunters Wharf; viewed from the western or upslope, side. Just on the other side of this fence began to be later on re-exavated for building one of the later phase buildings, and east of that the carpark for the Inner West Marina, in 2011. The excavations high wall (just on other side of the fence confirmed that this beautiful little park is build on a small artificial mount. Some metres down from the top of the present surface there was a layer of plastic cut, and below that were patches very material. This dark soil, almost like a coal seam in appearance must be a small volume of soil that was largely waste. Such dark coloured waste, however, is assumed to have been mainly taken off-site as the entire area was much stripped and re-worked before any dwellings commenced to be built. The whereabouts or references of records for that phase of site development (remediation) had not been located by early 2011. (Photo: Winston M. Yang Wyp, 2007). [ Winston Wyp is/was a town planning student at University of New South Wales,at time of this photo. ]
A sense of history and soul of the community - the white church. Somewhere in America. See American
history, 1492 - 2009 in 8 minutes at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P61x6ClN1kg&feature=related
Breakfast Point at edge of the village green, showing the charming new community hall (Novermber 2010). The original plan for an "ecumenical church" was still being referred to as late as 2004 (e.g. Sun-Herald 4 April 2004) but when it was opened it was called a hall rather than a church.
It is not known what exactly the Community Hall at Breakfast Point is based upon, but it vaguely evokes images of wooden country churches like this one.
Or this one (Uniting Church at Robertson, NSW)
The community hall, also termed the "ecumenical hall", is the manifestation of what Mr Bob Rose had planned as an
ecumenical church in the initial vision for Breakfast Point. (Photo: Jim Bar, Sydney resident)
Some interesting background/coincidences: Bob Rose arranged for Prince Charles to do an 'official' Christening of Breakfast Point by planting a bunya pine at the Community Hall in 2005. The Prince's endorsement was deemed most apt because Breakfast Point was held to echo principles promoted by the Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment. Both the Prince and Bob engage in interest in innovative architecture and philanthrophy. In 2010 the Prince named a book about his own philosophy and determination to defend nature "Harmony" - and the next point to Breakfast Point is Harmony Point, where Bob Rose built his earlier successful project "Cape Cabarita".
The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment (formerly The Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture until 2001) is an educational charity established in 1986 by HRH The Prince of Wales to teach and demonstrate in practice those principles of traditional urban design and architecture which put people and the communities of which they are part at the centre of the design process.
PFBE practices through teaching six major principles about sustainable urbanism. They are as follows:
- Engender Social Interaction
- Make Places
- Allow Movement Logically and Legibly
- Sustain Land Value
- Design Using Natural Harmonics
- Build Beautifully
Perfect Harmony Limited was the name of the publishing arm of the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture - and "Harmony" was later on the name of the book wihch the Prince published (with some co-writers) in 2010. In the first magazine publication by the Prince's institute the editor wrote that it was " concerned with the care and conservation of the best aspects of our built history and the countryside, and with the protection of the landscape, but it is also committed to the evolution of a new architecture which combines temporary technology with the inspirational ideas offered by traditional buildings ... The reconciliation of the old and the new, united with a concern for relating new buildings to their settings, will restore delight to our view of the world. ... campaign for beauty and inspiration and a recovery of that spiritual sense of the numinous that only great architecture or great works of art can offer."
In a book review of "Harmony: A New Way of Looking at the World" by HRH The Prince of Wales in the London Daily Telegraph – republished in The Sydney Morning Herald Spectrum of 13 November, 2010. John Preston wrote:
Halfway through reading Harmony, I began to suspect I might be going mad. When I mentioned this to my wife, she looked at me in a not-entirely-surprised sort of way and said: 'What makes you think that?’
'Well,’ I told her, 'I’m reading this book by Prince Charles and I find myself agreeing with quite a lot of it.’
His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales on 4 March 2005, planting the commemorative Bunya Bunya pine tree outside the Community Hall to mark its completion. An exhibition of about 30 paintings of the A.G.L. site, mostly of the C.W.G. building, by Jane Bennett, was inside the hall.
The Prince of Wales' tree, in March 2011
Prince Charles planting another tree in 2009, at Rose Town, Jamaica. (Photo: Life)
Rose Town (Photos: The Prince's Foundation for the Built Environment)
The images above show a house in its present condition and the rendition of how it will look after restoration. This
is a project shared by the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment and the US firm Duany Plater-Zyberk. It
seeks to help revitalises Rose Town, one of the poorest districts in West Kingston, Jamaica.
The founders, Bob and Margaret Rose, 2005 - viz. http://www.rosecorp.net.au/rosefamily.html
"When we shaped the plans for the future of Breakfast Point, we were inspired not only by the site’s heritage and scenic waterside
setting, but by our vision of a neighborhood with a special sense of place and character.” Robert Rose.
Bob Rose AM - Voted "Property Person of The Year" in 2010.
( The Property Person of the Year Award is "an annual award recognising an impressive
community leader who has played a major part in helping build Australia." )
Rose believes in community values and created the $100,000 per annum Breakfast Point Community Aid Fund to assist individuals and organisations in the City of Canada Bay municipality.
On creating community (Autumn 2005 newsletter): "In the hectic world we live in, we often forget how important tradition is in keeping us connected on a deeper level. Traditions promote strength and purpose as well as a keen sense of unity. Songs and stories help pass traditional messages on from generation to generation and help create strong communities. Strong communities promote a sense of trust and a sense of belonging, particularly for children. A great development like Breakfast Point requires a true community with a strong sense of place and long term appeal and value".
Thus far "songs" of community are few. The only one come upon by the present compiler is one that WWI strike breakers ('scabs' or 'volunteer workers') who camped at the gas works are said to have composed in 1917:
"We were there, there, there
The country boys were there
We never hesitated
Nor for an order waited
At the gasworks we were there
We were there, there, there."
(Fide Marge and Tom Breaden, 1996)
[Was this song perhaps an imitation of "Over There", America's best known World War One song, written by George M. Cohan in 1917. It proved a nationwide hit in the months immediately following America's entry into the war?]
The Barrier Miner (Broken Hill) carried a short mention of this, on 3 September 1917, p. 4
GAS COMPANY'S EMPLOYEES STRIKE.
OWING TO COMPANY UNLOADING "BLACK" COAL.
- 'The Gas Company's workers came out on strike this morning owing to the company unloading "black" coal from a vessel at Mortlake. About 230 volunteer workers are being, got together, to take the places of the strikers at Mortlake. Special trams are in readiness to carry them.
By 11 September the "loyal workers camp" held 500 men. Eighty men were dispatched from there to service the North Shore gas works at Neutral Bay, when that came out on strike in sympathy with Mortlake.
The 1917 strike had begun in the Randwick Workshops and Eveleigh Carriage Shops with workers walking off the job in protest. Their cause was taken up throughout the New South Wales railway system, and eventually spread to other industries and states. The railway men came on board in sympathy with the workshop men and refused to transport coal. The wharf labourers went on full strike in sympathy with the railway men. Soon the coal in the mines themselves was declared "black" and, by voting, the coal miners themselves concurred in this declaration. When "black" coal was nonetheless carried to Mortlake is when the Mortlake men went on strike. Ostensibly the fight seems to have commenced with objection to 'scientific' management or Taylorism, or the 'speeding up scheme' as it was sometimes later called (but there were likely deeper issues/fears involved as well). It was alleged that the system introduced by the Railways Commissioners was the American device known as the Taylor system. However, the government afterwards claimed that this was absolutely untrue, and that neither the Taylor system nor any other speeding up system was involved in its planned work reform system.
With such conciliatory statements and denials for any concern at all, the government sought to woo the railways and tramways men back to work. Ben Chifley, who would later become Prime Minister of Australia, was involved. He had worked on the railroads since 1903, and was a train driver at the time of the strike. Following his participation and subsequent dismissal, Chifley was rehired as a driver/fireman. He was put on reduced wages and seniority. Joseph Cahill, who would later become Premier of New South Wales in 1952, worked at Eveleigh Workshops at the time, and was an active trade unionist. Cahill's card was marked as an "agitator", and he had great difficulty finding regular work after his participation in the strike.
Earlier the same year, 1917, there had been a go-slow strike by the coal lumpers employed at Mortlake gas works - demanding an extra man for each gang who worked in the collier holds loading coal into the buckets of the steam cranes which hauled it up to to rail trucks on the wharf deck. A later (1918) Sydney ballet piece called the 'go-slow workers working' may have drawn inspiration from that(?).
Community hall (left), village green, and country club (right).
The Breakfast Point Country Club, and a pagoda at left. The Country Club cost about $10 million to build, has two exercise rooms - one with rowing, jogging and bike machines and the other with free weights, machines and a bench - as well as a spa, sauna, two pools, conference room, an upstairs lounge, putting green and four tennis courts. Rosecorp stated that the decision to build such a large recreational facility was fully in line with the company's philosophy about the importance of building community spirit: "We believe it's important to have the facilities there, it creates a sense of community. It's a meeting place, where we believe little kids should be able to go and do swimming and tennis lessons" (Bryan Rose).
Breakfast Point pagoda (Photo: Jim Bar, 2007)
Some Local History
In the City of Canada Bay, named from where the 58 French-Canadian political prisoners were sent here by the British via the ship "Buffalo" after their defeat, capture or surrender in 1838 (whence the names Canada Bay, French Bay and Exile Bay along the Parramatta River - http://members.iinet.net.au/~perthdps/convicts/canadian.html ), there is an area of land that was formerly know as part of Mortlake but has since been re-named as Breakfast Point mini-suburb. It is an area of very modern and high class (and in part high rise) dense housing development, along with included areas of newly built open space and gardens, designed and built by Rose Corp.
Formerly this area was one of Sydney's major gasworks and Mortlake was once a working man's suburb. A number of the older workers' cottages still exist in the vicinity but today the major feature of the former 'Mortlake' has become the new Breakfast Point development.
There has been some ongoing argument if the early "Wangal" people of this area were "Eora" or "Darug" groups. The later thinking is that Aboriginal people living along the southern side of the Parramatta River were Darug-spearkers.
While a total of 19 Aboriginal sites have been noted documented in the general Concord area at or close to the river (mainly shell piles), nothing has even been noted at Mortlake itself. However, Mortlake does have one area of parkland that has been specifically dedicated to Aboriginal usage or heritage of at sort. This is close to Breakfast Point, at the end of Hilly Street, and is named "Wangal Reserve".
That name was conferred, with considerable fanfare, by the then Concord Council on 26 October 1984.
According to the information then issued by Council, this reserve was dedicated for the purpose of becoming a centre of "celebrations" for Aboriginal heritage of the area. There was to have been, it stated, a flagstaff to fly the Aboriginal flag - and it was envisaged that the reserve would be the focal point of celebrations commemorating Aboriginal heritage. But today, no Aboriginal flag flies there, no ceremonies are held, and Wangal park is just another picnic area with electric barbecues. It certainly is a nice place for a picnic but so too are many places around Concord (.e.g the Kokoda Trail facilities picnic shelter a bit further west are newer and better, and not too over-used as yet).
Mortlake was originally 30 ha granted to John Miller, John Robertson and Benjamin Butcher in July 1795. This land was subsequently acquired by John Ward and then by his adopted heir, Alexander MacDonald. The area was originally called Bottle Point, but by 1837 the name Mortlake Point also seems to have been in use.
The name of the place was changed again when in 1857 it had become Bachelors Point. By 1890 the area was known as either Bachelors or Green Point.
Later on the name of the suburb would be changed back to Mortlake, and it is generally stated that AGL established its new works at 'Mortlake'; however it might not then have been known as such(?).
Ghost of the Mortlake gas works. Today almost nobody remembers the Mortlake gas works and for writing this webpage the above fuzzy photo of the carbonising plant back in the 1950s was the only photo of it that at first could be readily found. (Photo: AGL)
The gas works began at Mortlake in or about 1884 when the gas company (Australian Gas Light Company) purchased 32 ha of land at 'Mortlake'. Gas production was underway there by 1886. The Mortlake works of the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) opened for business on 23 May 1886. AGL's earlier gasworks at Darling Harbour had opened in 1837. Their new works were modelled on the Beckton Works in East London, and AGL's engineer, Thomas Bush had previously been employed at Beckton.
Some Gas-making History
Gas in the nineteenth century was made in horizontally arranged ovens or retorts where the coal was heated in the exclusion of air. The retorts had to be manually charged and discharged in earlier times and this was a 24hr hot, dirty and labour-intensive business.
The Mortlake gas works were modelled on the Beckton Works in East London, and AGL's chief engineer, Thomas Bush, had previously been employed at Beckton. Later on, Beckton gas works would be a cradle of successful unionism and the 8 hour day.
The National Union of Gas Workers and General Labourers of Great Britain and Ireland is regarded by some as the first successful union. It was set up in 1889 by Will Thorne, then aged 32. He had been born in Birmingham in 1857, and from his sixth birthday onwards he had worked at various unskilled jobs. Son of a brickyard labourer, at age six Thorne began work for a rope and twine spinner. His father died in 1864, dramatically reduced family income. His mother found some employment sewing and William found work in the local brickyard. Will married Harriet Hallam, the daughter of one of his fellow workers at the Saltley gasworks. Will was illiterate, and had no education to speak of, but was far from stupid. By his late teens he was working as a labourer on the brickfields in the summer and in the local gasworks in the winter. He walked to London, and found work at the Beckton gasworks. There he made contact with Karl Marx’s daughter, Eleanor. She helped teach Thorne how to read and write, and perhaps even more important, she taught him how the system worked. Also supporting him were John Burns and Tom Mann.
At at meeting for gas workers, Thorne gave a speech: “The way you have been treated in your work for many years is scandalous, brutal and inhuman. I pledge my word that, if you will stand firm and don’t waver, within six months we will claim and win the eight-hour day, a six-day week and the abolition of the present slave-driving methods in vogue --- not only at the Beckton Gas Works, but all over the country.”
After this speech, 800 workers joined the new union on the first day, and within a month another 3000 had joined. The Gasworkers’ Union soon had over 20,000 members.
Its aim was simple: to reduce the length of the gas workers’ shift from twelve hours to eight, as the Union membership certificate (above) makes quite clear. The usual arrangement was for the workers to put in two weeks of twelve-hour days, then two weeks of twelve-hour nights. Every second weekend, the end of a man’s night-shift coincided with the start of his day-shift, so he worked twenty-four straight hours. His wages were 5s.
With the men at Beckton more or less united behind him, Thorne presented the union's demand for an eight-hour day, with, naturally, no loss of pay. To everyone’s surprise, it was accepted and the Council simply raised the price of gas slightly to cover their increased costs. The gasworks moved smoothly from two shifts a day to three, and life went on as before. Thorne’s success at Beckton triggered an explosive growth in the membership of his union, and gas workers all over the country were demanding - and getting - a shorter working day. Most employed people had to wait to the early and mid twentieth century for the condition to be widely achieved through the industrialized world through legislative action.
How coal gas is made
Coal gas, prepared by distilling coal in fireclay retorts, consists principally of hydrogen (about 48%) and methane (about 32%) with smaller quantities of ethylene, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. … A residue of coke is left in the retorts. There is also potential for associated chemical industries as the below 1923 chart shows:
The wide variety of products from the destructive distillation of coal, here shown in a chart produced in 1923 by coal-combustion expert Alexander Lowy.
( http://www.alexanderlowy.com )
As the above chart shows, the major products were gas, coke, tar, benzol and ammonia. All gas works separated the major products and nearby chemical industries could develop for producing more of the substances shown above. Many chemical industries have operated along the Parrmatta River.
The basic process
Highly simplified schemas of coal gas generation - Mortlake works would have been more complicated than this.
Very early gasworks, 1820s, showing the manual drawing of residue from the retorts at the Great Gas Works at Brick Lane.
Chandler and Lacey (1949) The Rise of the Gas industry in Britain. Original source is the Monthly Magazine
( http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Drawing_the_retorts_at_the_Great_Gas_Establishment_Brick_Lane.png )
Gas retort house workers in London (left) and Sutton (right); more in the period of the early Mortlake works.
Retort charging The picture shows a team of stokers loading a retort at the Beckton works, where Will Thorne worked as a stoker.
Spent coal, coke or semi-coke, was drawn/raked out with long tools. Fresh coal could be shovelled or pushed in by one man,
or if several hands were used a special trough full of coal could be inserted in one go as shown here.
One man shown drawing retort at a preserved early (1834) gasworks at Maybole, Ayrshire. ( www.maybole.org/
The gas retorts at the Carrickfergus Gasworks, Ireland’s only gas suriving works (now a museum), and which is one of only three left in the British Isles. Opened in 1855, this works supplied Carrickfergus with gas until 1965. It has now been lovingly and faithfully restored by the Carrickfergus Gasworks Preservation Society. This is now 'Europe's largest surviving set of horizontal retorts'. "Each retort had two stokers, who worked eight or nine hour shifts, one packing the coal into the furnace and another removing the coke. Sam remarked that when the stoker opened the door to remove the coke he had to burn off the first bit of gas that escaped to prevent the retort exploding." ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/northernireland/yourplaceandmine/images/antrim/carrickgas_torts.jpg )
More preserved retorts - at the 1846 Fakenham town gasworks ( http://fakenhamgasmuseum.com ) is the only surviving town gasworks in England and Wales, complete with all equipment used for the manufacture of gas from coal: retorts, condenser, purifiers, meter and gasholder. ceased production of gas from the heating of coal in 1965 following the discovery of Natural Gas in the North Sea. That was the same year that production ceased at the Carrickfergus works.
The Fakenham retort house had two furnaces with eight and six retorts respectively. The gas rose up the vertical pipes into something called the hydraulic main. Here the ends of the pipes were submerged in a water trap forming an air lock so that the system was unaffected when a retort was opened. Each retort needed to be emptied and recharged once the coal had been sufficiently depleted. This was done by pulling the coke out into large wheelbarrows using elongated tools, then the space would be re-stoked using shovels. A retort is an 11′ deep “D” shaped ceramic tube holding about 4cwt of coal. This must have been hot unpleasant backbreaking work for a stoker, especially as a third of the retorts are above head height and they needed replenishing every ten hours or so. The raw gas passed along from the hydraulic main to the foul main which runs around the roof of the retort house. Here a certain amount of tar condenses out and drops down into the tar pit. Some ammonia liquor floating on the surface of the tar would be pumped off. The gas then flowed through a condenser tower to complete the process by condensing out residual tar and ammonia liquor. A washer purged any residual ammonia. The final stage was the removal of hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas) by passing the gas over iron oxide for final purification.
Development of moving machinery, on rails, to automatically stoke gas retorts - 1895.
Mortlake was early equipped in this manner, with the latest machinery.
In general the smaller gasworks in Australia continued to use horizontal clay retorts but in the larger gas works the horizontal retort was supplanted by the inclined retort in the 1890s and later on by the intermittent vertical retort system. The greatest change in gasmaking technology was the introduction of the continuous vertical retort developed in Britain in 1911. This was immediately adopted by the larger Australian gas companies. Constructed of fireclay moulded sections, the seven metre retorts tapered from top to bottom. Their vertical installation made use of gravity to charge them from the coal hoppers situated above and aided the efficient use of heat. Gas was taken off at the top of the retort and at the base an extractor continuously turned out coke, which was removed at two-hour intervals. There was a considerable saving of labour and a great improvement in retort house working conditions.
Originally a by-product of the coking process, coal gas was extensively exploited in the 19th and early 20th centuries for lighting, cooking and heating. The development of manufactured gas paralleled that of the industrial revolution and urbanization; and the byproducts became important chemical feedstock for the dye and chemical industries. The whole rainbow of artificial dye colours was made from coal gas and coal tar. Depending on the processes used for its creation, coal gas or 'town gas' is a mixture of the calorific gases: hydrogen, carbon monoxide, methane and volatile hydrocarbons, with small amounts of noncalorific gases - carbon dioxide and nitrogen - as impurities. From the early coal gas industry products, researchers (especially in Germany) were able to develop many new processes and synthesized various natural organic compounds, including vitamin C and aspirin.
In 1890, AGL purchased the Parramatta Gas Company and by that time, gas mains were being been planned for the North Shore using the newly constructed railway bridge at Rhodes for the gas to cross the river and begin its ascent up the North Shore.
After Mortlake works commenced, the company soon closed the Balmain, Five Dock and Parramatta gas works (although the Darling Harbour works were maintained in operational condition and from time to time continued to operate until 1922, when the company's entire gas-making operation was transferred to Mortlake).
At Mortlake the Parramatta River provided a relatively cheap and efficient means of materials transport. The first coal wharf was built at the end of Breakfast Point. It was T-shaped.
Here is a summary description (Michael Tesoriero, 1986), of gas-making operations beginning at the Breakfast Point jetty:
... [the wharf] had two landing stages for high and low tides. It was equipped with steam cranes of the latest design. Railway tracks carried by a viaduct from the jetty into the upper storey of the coal stores bore locomotives which delivered the coal to high bins to supply fuel for the charging of the retorts. Looping around to return at ground level, the railway then collected the coke produced by carbonisation. To make gas, the coal was loaded into the retorts, sealed from the air and heated to 1100 degrees centigrade. Gas was taken off all through the five or six hours required to yield the maximum amount. These had to be cleaned of built up tar every time the door was opened. Gas was stored in tanks after it was cooled, cleaned and purified. Mortlake's first gasometer was the largest in the southern hemisphere rising to a height of 110 feet [33.5m] when filled and contained 2,750, 000 cubic feet [78,066 cubic metres] of gas. Gas was kept in the tank by a water seal provided by a tank excavated from the solid rock.
The Mortlake gas works consumed up to almost 460,000 tonnes of coal per year. A major supply was from Hexham on the Hunter River, north of Sydney, via colliers known as the 'Sixty Milers'. Colliers used were the SS Felton Bank and the SS Mortlake Bank, each of 1400 tonnes, and the MV Hexham Bank of 1650 tonnes. The last collier to Mortlake was in late 1971, when gas production was terminated at Mortlake (Stephensen, 1966).
The 70s would be the decade of strong change in Sydney and NSW for gas, following a similar path as started in Britain in the 1960s. At the start of the 1960s, Britain had 1,100 low-pressure plants producing gas from coal. Many were nearing the end of their usefulness. Their likely successor was at first seen as the Lurgi gasifier. At the same time Britain began receiving liquified natural gas from the Middle East and ICI was completing a novel reforming process that produced natural gas from naptha, the light (and at that time cheap) fraction of petroleum. Within three years of perfecting the latter process it overtook the Lurgi gasifier as the cheapest way of producing town gas. Soon thirteen naptha reforming plants for making town gas were under construction in Britain. In the early 1960s the development of the ICI high temperature naphtha-steam reforming process, which produced a 300 BTU/SCF gas, shifted the UK town gas industry very rapidly towards a naphtha feed basis. Initially LPG was used as the enriching gas; but by the mid 1960s the British Gas Council had developed a catalytic low temperature steam-naphtha gasification process (the CRG Process), which produced a high BTU gas suitable for use as the enriching gas in "Town Gas" production. But at the same time, within a year of the first naptha reforming plant going into operation, the writing was on the wall for all that too, as BP discovered commercial natural gas in the North Sea. Australia followed these trends in the 1970s. Gas making from coal was terminated at Mortlake and naptha storage tanks were built where the coal storage heap had formerly been. For the time-being naptha became the feedstock for gas-making. But from 1971 the natural gas pipeline from South Australia was being built via NW NSW to Mortlake. After the supply reached the Mortlake works it needed but a small degree of reforming to town gas. The odourless natural gas was also given a distinctive odour for safety reasons before being distributed to consumers throughout the Sydney area.
The Mortlake gasworks finally closed in 1990, by which time only 200 of the former 2000 employees were left. On Friday 15 June, the then Minister for Minerals and Energy, Mr Pickard, turned off all the controls to silence the plant (ending 104 years of history). Who was the last man out who turned off the lights has not yet been determined.
Post closure, and demolition of most of the gas works structures, the further stages to prepare the site for major medium and high-rise housing included:
- Bulk earthworks of about 90,000 cubic metres cut to fill (sandstone).
- Construction of about 2 km of new roadways, and a "village green" area (a community focus concept).
- Seawall construction along the north and east perimeters
- Installation of retention tanks, which water is intended to be used for watering the planned green spaces and gardens.
The density of development was objected to locally and by the local Council, but to no effect as the Minister for Planning took no notice of such concerns according to comment which appeared on the Council website:
The Department of Planning's assessments for Breakfast Point can be found at the following links:
Other online assessments concerning the site are:
- Project Application - The Point
- Project Application - Vineyards North
- Project Application - Country Club
- Plantations Precinct - Project Application
- MP09_0020 - Seashores Precinct
- Modification_1 - Vineyards South
- Concept Plan - Residential and Commercial development
- MP08_0025 MOD 2 - Plantations Precinct
- River Front Precinct - Project Application
- MP08_0025 MOD 4 - Plantations Precinct
- Project Application - Vineyards South
- Modification 1 Vineyards North MP 05-0149
- Silkstone Precinct - Project Application
- MP08_0026 MOD 1 - Silkstone Precinct
- MP08_0025 MOD 1 - Plantations Precinct
- MP08_0209 - Blacksmiths Workshop
- MP05_0153 MOD 1 - The Point Precinct
- MP08_0025 MOD 3 - Plantations Precinct
- MP08_0025 MOD 5 - Plantations Precinct
- Breakfast Point Concept Plan 2005 MOD 1
- MP08_0026 MOD 2 - Silkstone Precinct, Breakfast Point
Following the initial Breakfast Point disquiet had died down, some more followed when it was proposed to add a large marina:
The Marina - and enter the question of changing ownership/control of Breakfast Point
Kendall Bay existing view (2010) and mock up view with the proposed marina
Looking south from the site of proposed public jetty for the marina, which is also where the former Kendall Bay coal loading
wharf had stood, which is now demolished but was considered by AGL as favourable for a ferry service or boating wharf.
The marina DA when it appeared supposedly surprised a lot of people, who objected to the scale of it. Many thought that the scale revealed for the proposed facility is inordinately large for a quiet residential area and consequently would have unreasonable impacts on residents, and that it is not in the public interest. Some stated that they had been given to understood a much small facility, just for the locals, was being planned. However, in this regard it is interesting to note that Council approved "100 car parking spaces for a Marina" as part of the 2002 Masterplan. Did that not raise any questions or alarm at the time? It is a larger number of parking spaces (58) that the DA, now considered over-scale by Council, ended up asking for. Perhaps Council raised no concern back in 2002 because at that time there had also been talk of having a ferry terminal at the old wharf (since demolished), and ample car parking might have encouraged increased commuter use of ferry transport - which council has always regarded as a desirable thing(?). More potential for confusion perhaps occurred when the 2005 Concept Plan showed a 3 storey townhouse where the 100 places car park had originally been intended(?).
With a masterplanned large development, the developer at first controls all on site issues, but as the whole residential development is sold bit by bit to new settlers various sorts of communal control must over time pass out the hands of the developer. Discontent of developer/residents power mix has existed for years, with claims of the relationship being to skewed in favour of developers. Finally in late 2010 the NSW Government announced legislative changes intended to make it much harder in future for developers to establish or maintain long-standing controls.
By GSA Planning, 2010 - consultants to Canada Bay Council
Silkstone Park at left, thence to right the foundations going in for another block of units, thence (where construction materials are) the area that is intended
parking area for the Inner West Marina, thence roadway, thence the Kendall Wharf precinct unit blocks, and at right the bilaterally symmetically
waterfront landscaping feature where the old coal loader wharf was demolished, and where the new marina jetty will be built.
Just south of Silkstone Park the sandstone is seen to be shallow, but not east of the park. The original gasworks site had been quarried flat.
The quarry wall ran down the west side of the Plumbers' Workshop (i.e. that building is built flush against the quarried sandstone wall,
then south of that building it ran eastwards. It probably they turned south and again ran east just south of Silkstone Park (?)
Who actually owns/owned, or will own, Breakfast Point? Clearly, AGL once owned it all. Then AGL sold it and Rosecorp became the owner of it all. But then Rosecorp for years now has been selling it house by house, or unit by unit -- to what Rosecorp at first termed 'the new settlers'. Rosecorp attempted to play the role of "good founding father" and put on many events to foster the sense of community and place. Yet as time went on the relationship between residents and developer began to show signs of strain.
Some problems were probably festering by 2006, or earlier. This is guessed because residents of Breakfast Point sometime in early 2006, or before, began lobbying the State government for reform of the laws governing community housing scheme. Breakfast Point residents possibly lead a growing movement for this, but they also got many others involved from other similar situations as time went on (e.g. Abbotsford Cove, Liberty Grove, Cape Cabarita, various developments at Rhodes, etc.). A first discussion paper was released by the government in July 2006, and reforms were eventually legislated in 2010. John Small of the Breakfast Point Residents Coordination Group was one of those involved in this (he was also Chair of the Fairwater block's Community Association).
A taste of things to come in this regard was briefly portended in 2007. This was described by Jimmy Thomson in part two of a Herald series about group ownership matters in the modern real estate world. The article was on 27 February, 2007 - "When developers won't let go" - in the Sydney Morning Herald ( http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/when-developers-wont-let-go/2007/02/26/1172338547144.html ).
In that article there was reported that "Residents running part of the massive $1.65 billion, 52-hectare Breakfast Point village being developed on the shores of the Parramatta River sat stunned, unable to believe what they'd just witnessed. They were about to replace their developer-run building managemers with an independent company when a representative of the developer, Rosecorp, cast its own votes and certain "proxies" at the annual general meeting in order to block such change."
This article stated that Terry Barnes, the chief executive of the NSW Urban Taskforce ("which represents developers") said strata law allowed owners' corporations to apply to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancies Tribunal to set aside unfair or unreasonable management agreements. He said that "developers often remain in the picture to ensure maintenance standards are kept up during marketing".
The following year, 2008, Mr Ian West, a Labor upper house parliamentarian and resident at Admiralty Drive, with about 70 other residents, took representatives of Rose Group - the developers of Breakfast Point - to the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, alleging that a legal loophole was being used to exert control over the residents' community association. Under the Community Land Management Act, once a third of a master-planned development has been built and sold, the developer's control of a community association is restricted. After this deadline is passed, the developer's votes must be cut by 66 per cent in value. While agreeing to the discount of most of its votes to one-third of their previous value, Rose Group subsequently bought new parcels of Breakfast Point land called Lots 25 and 26. They then argued that the votes for these land plots - worth 4468 of the total 10,000 votes at Breakfast Point - should not be discounted because they were bought after the "initial period" had passed. Counting the Lot 25 and 26 votes at full value would deliver control of the community association to the developer. "Breakfast Point Pty Limited is exercising its legal rights in full compliance with the Community Land Management Act," Rose Group's chief, Bryan Rose, said. "The definition of 'community' is wider than those who live at Breakfast Point ... It includes all those who have a unit entitlement in the Community Association. The spirit of community has been central to Rose Group plans at Breakfast Point since its inception." Residents do not agree. "This has implications for everyone in NSW living on a community plan," said one resident, who asked not to be named. "This is a new way in which a developer may assert an influence over a community association which was never intended; it is a question of a developer wanting to control the whole place in their best commercial interest." Another resident, Don McKenzie, said: "Rose has effectively wrested control of the community association from the community." ( http://internationalpropertyinvestment.com/page/49?N=D&show=slide&pageid=41 )
At Breakfast Point, the original management agreement with developer Rosecorp's Estate Management was "effectively a 25-year agreement - five plus five plus five plus five plus five", said an upper house Labor MP Ian West, who lives there. Mr West for some time vchaired the executive committee of one Breakfast Point strata building, and also the complex's overarching community title committee. He commented: "We've just gone through the most agonising exercise of getting it changed."
One of the major hurdles, according to Mr West, was the closeness of developer and manager.
The corporate veil is a very difficult issue. It isn't illegal but everything becomes so secret. You have to be a combination of a finance guru, Sherlock Holmes and Judge Judy to understand it," Mr West said.
Such resident discord may have reached its peak in 2010 when Craig Ferguson, the Rosecorp estate manager, was reportedly assaulted by Mr West at one of the meetings meeting (Sydney Morning Herald, 25 February 2010; 27-28 February 2010, page News-11). Mr Ferguson claimed that as the meeting ended, Mr West had walked up to him while he was still seated at a table and hit him on the back of the head and neck three times - causing him to later seek chiropractic treatment. (... or slapping him twice to the back of the head and once to the left side of the face according to another version told at the court hearing)..
According to the newspaper report (SMH, 25 February 2010) a witness said he heard a commotion and people claiming that Mr West had hit Mr Ferguson. He turned around he saw Mr West hit the estate manager in the bac, and noticed that a woman standing nearby was crying. Police confirmed that Mr West had been summonsed to appear at court in April on charge of assault charge. He had also been served with a personal violence order.
Mr West denied all that, saying that it was a heated meeting but nothing more than words transpired there. The Premier, Kristina Keneally, said she would not ask Mr West to step down as a Minister because he was denying the allegations - ''I act on the presumption of innocence and I'll apply that principle to all MPs in the parliament,'' she said (SMH, 25 February 2010).
On April 13th the hearing on this was held at Burwood Local Court, and the interim apprehended violence order against West was extended. According to Mr Ferguson, he sustained minor spinal injuries, had developed a "severe headache" and needed chiropractic treatment for his neck. The Court made little progress, did not hear what had sparked the assault, and postponed the matter to return to Court on 16th June. Mr West pleaded "not guilty".
The matter petered out, in unclear circumstances, when in late September 2010 there was a dubious news report by Western Australia media that "the Director of Public Prosecutions told Magistrate Eve Wynhausen it would not be proceeding with the matter". Some sort of deal or arrangement had been presumably done but there was little or no mention in NSW newspapers of what it might have been; or if Mr Ferguson who brought the charge was satisfied with such outcome.
The years 2009-2010, and especially 2010, saw growing discord over a new plan for a "giant" marina, and "No Marina" signs began appearing around Breakfast Point.
AGL, as well as Rosecorp, always planned for and conceived of a marina to be built at Breakfast Point. Something with bi-lateral symmetry around the former Kendall Bay coal wharf axis was the general idea.
However when final development proposal for it was submitted to government in 2010 it met with increasingly strong opposition from BP's own residents! The Breakfast Point residents presumably must have known about a planned marina when buying property there. However some say it was the size and nature of the proposal as finally unveiled which so shocked them. A 'small' marina for the use of the Breakfast Point new settlers themselves would likely have been very welcome but the plan finally put for government approval was instead for a commercial marina - much larger and to serve the entire "Inner West" population of Sydney, not just the residents themselves.
The Sydney Morning Herald on 3 January 2009 (page 'News' 3) reported the plan to build a "giant marina" at Kendall Bay, and commented about how pollution in the bay had not yet been cleaned up.
In the Inner-West Weekly (2 July 2009) Breakfast Point residents Greg McGrath, Peter Ashcroft and Don McKenzie (and according to them many more) did not want a big commercial marina in Kendall Bay. Greg McGrath said the Breakfast Point Residents Group had tried engaging the marina developer (Rosecorp or a subsidiary thereof) for over a year, without success - "The only consultation was by their sales staff, who told residents it would be a small private marina, never mentioning it would be a large public marina". The residents had appealed to the local Labor MP, Ms D'Amore, for assistance. She stated that she would put forward her views once there was a final DA. However she'd fallen from political grace, and was gone, before the DA was submitted.
If the residents had no inkling that a big commercial public marina was coming to the bay - expecting only a small one for residents' own use - then what did Council know? Did Council also have no inkling?
Seemingly not. Another plan by Council, the "Breakfast Point Development Control Plan", which appeared in 2005 gave no suggestion of it. Instead this showed a "Boat Shed" on the shore south of the demolished coal loading wharf. It also showed that an appartment block was approved for immediately east of Silkstone Park, but did not indicate that its apparent large parking area was actually intended for future marina patrons. The the DCP's Landscape Strategy (Fig. 7b) there was car parking shown along the shore near the boat shed, and that a "Boat Ramp" was intended there. All that might give residents the impression of a small private boating facility being intended, as Greg McGrath has said residents believed. There was no indication of anything like the "Inner West Marina" intention, nor its parking area east of Silkstone Park (mis-labelled a 'Heritage Park' on Fig. 7b).
In the agenda of Council meeting of 15 March 2005 it was noted how the old (originally thought of as a possible ferry wharf) had been demolished, and that "deletion" of related waterfront activities seemed to be the likely change from the earlier masterplan (not rebuilding of a big marina in the same spot as the coal loading wharf). If Council had and idea of a large or commercial marina being likely desired there then such would be expected to have been mentioned in that context, but nothing was. Also, in the Breakfast Point concept plan of 2005, the map showing the "Boat Shed" was labelled "Community Facilities". Many no doubt could have imagined from all this that it was just a small boating facility for estate residents which would be developed at Kendall Bay.
When the Marina application came in 2010 the BP residents association, opposing the marina, claimed ( http://www.bpresidents.com.au/page9.html ) the following things:
- "Owners consent to the lodging of the Application was not obtained from The City of Canada Bay Council nor Community Association DP270347 as required". [NB: The residents association hasn't stated where such requirement exists?]
- "The proposed marina and its associated services structures and facilities must encroach into privately owned Community/Residence Association (CA) property. The easements over the open access ways (roads) and the foreshore walkway surrounding Kendall Bay are limited in their use for the purpose of recreation. On this basis, access to the marina from CA property will interfere with CA property rights and approval by the Government can constitute promotion of trespass."
- "The aims of the Harbour REP set out in regulation 2(1)(a) are; To ensure that the catchment, foreshores, waterways and islands of Sydney Harbour are recognised, protected, enhanced and maintained: (i) as an outstanding natural asset, and (ii) as a public asset of national and heritage significance, for existing and future generations” ... "In its present state Kendall Bay is an unencumbered 'public asset' but if a commercial marina is constructed on it a significant portion of the bay will be in private hands in contravention of the aims of the REP.
The aspect of the waterway as public asset also came to the fore on 22 December 2010 when the entire front page of the Sydney Morning Herald was given over to an attack on the Labor Party ("Labor largesse to jetty set; $3.8m bonanza for minister's mate; Combet left red-faced as new green scheme gets the axe"). The main article was entitled "The great state giveaway" and can be found at:
[ MTH Mirror - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/great-state-giveaway.mht ]
In this article it is stated that:
- "The Planning Minister, Tony Kelly, has accused his cabinet colleague, the Ports Minister, Eric Roozendaal, of handing stretches of Sydney Harbour to the wealthy owners of waterfront properties.
- "In a letter to Mr Roozendaal, who is also Treasurer, Mr Kelly said NSW Maritime was 'subdividing' the harbour by granting waterfront landowners 20-year leases over jetties and surrounding waters. This is in breach of government policy, which says the harbour is a public resource to be protected for the public good, he said. Mr Kelly's criticisms emerged days after Mr Roozendaal forced through the sale of the state's electricity retailers at prices critics equated with a giveaway.
- "Mr Kelly said that by agreeing to 20-year leases, the Treasurer was bestowing gifts on some of Sydney's wealthiest citizens because the leases can be included in the sale of waterfront properties. ''When approved, the landowners with waterfront leases will have exclusive use of the waters of Sydney Harbour adjoining their land,'' Mr Kelly writes. ''These rights will also be transferable upon the sale of the adjoining property.''
- "Mr Kelly said: 'Unlike licences which do not necessarily imply the right to exclusive use of the tenancy, a lease offers exclusive possession for the lessee. 'Licences also allow for the shared use of structures and can be terminated by the Minister for Lands [and] … are not transferable.'
- "Mr Kelly's letter, sent on November 18, also accuses NSW Maritime of granting leases under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Infrastructure), known as ISEPP, which was designed to allow speedy approval of essential infrastructure such as roads and rail lines. It was never intended to apply to jetties.
- "Mr Roozendaal is in New York meeting business leaders but a spokeswoman said it was too early to respond to Mr Kelly's letter. However, it appears NSW Maritime has ignored Mr Kelly's concerns. It has just published a new domestic lease policy on its website that introduces a formalised system of 20-year leases. It says the lease policy has been introduced to 'provide domestic lessees with stability and security of tenure', to 'encourage the ongoing development of existing and new domestic waterfront facilities for the storage and use of residential vessels', and to provide a commercial return for NSW Maritime.
- "The policy appears to be a clear breach of the government's five-year-old Sydney Regional Environmental Plan, which says the harbour 'is to be recognised as a public resource, owned by the public, to be protected for the public good, and the public good has precedence over the private good whenever and whatever change is proposed for Sydney Harbour or its foreshores'.
Showing the scale of the proposed marina - http://www.breakfastpointlifestyle.com.au
The open water view from the new homes at Hunters Wharf. Residents were not pleased with the idea of this view transforming to a large marina.
A first preliminary environmental assessment was done for this in 2007:
A later full one was in 2010. The marina proposal has gone by various names - Breakfast Point marina, Kendall Bay marina and in the final proposal is named the Inner West Marina (project application number MP 07_0006). This too was deemed a 'major development' and dealt with by the Department of Planning rather than the local council. Council resolved on 17 November 2009 to oppose the development after holding a public meeting on the matter
( http://www.canadabay.nsw.gov.au/verve/_resources/62445926_KendallBayMarinaTranscriptofCommunityMeeting01.11.10.pdf or marina-community-meeting.pdf )
At this public meeting the Mayor opened with some humour: "Turn off your phones and no throwing shoes. Thongs are alright, they don't hurt as much ...".
Consultants for the developer described the proposal, the associated planning laws, and the environmental assessment including what could or would be done to address remnant chemical pollution in the bay sediments.
According to Mr McGrath from the from the Breakfast Point Residents Group (opposed to the Marina), the project proposal would not properly clean up the bay floor (just cover it with a geotextile fabric) and would "will ruin the views down and through the bay forever. It will visually pollute the bay and visually pollute the adjoining park lands ...... As I said before, do not accept a single statement from Breakfast Point Pty Limited that they will not do this or they will not do that. Their track record is atrocious. When I moved into Breakfast Point, 1600 apartments were going to be built. Then they sneaked it up to 1800, then they sneaked it up to 2000, then 2200, now they are seeking even more. You can see why we argue against the marina absolutely and we argue for remediation because if you compromise with Breakfast Point Pty Limited and come to an arrangement that okay, we're happy for a little 50 or 60 berth marina to be built, tomorrow it will be 80, the next day it will be 100, the next day it will be 200. Don't ever believe anything they say."
Adrian Kingswell from Jeffrey & Katauskas, Environmental Investigations Services, who were engaged by Council, told the meeting "gas generation from coal resulted in a lot of undesirable by-products and as a consequence of a lack or appreciation of the environmental management years ago, the by- products contaminated sediments of Kendall Bay. The principal contaminants are heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and mid to heavy fraction petroleum hydrocarbons. The main contaminant is probably the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, probably associated with the tar. You see some of those nodules washed up on the beach, they're all through the sediments".
One ex-councillor, Julie Passas, in speaking out (and interjecting rather disruptively at the meeting) ended up calling it/they or the whole government corrupt, with the whole thing known to be going to go ahead and the stated opposition at Council level being (in her opinion) a complete farce which was misleading the concerned objectors into thinking that they were being supported. She thought that any major marine development has as much chance of being stopped under the current government, she said, as she had of becoming a model.
What Ms Passas had in mind with all this and her general references to the past can only be guessed but there had indeed been a history of accusations in the Inner West regarding Labor Party dominated councils and developers. The best known case involves a triangle of land known as the "Golden Triangle". In that case Council had been referred to in the State Parliament in 1996 ( http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/hansart.nsf/V3Key/LC19960626005 ).
Parliament was told in 1996 that Concord Council misled and lied to the Land and Environment Court; that Council's senior planner, Mr Colin Pursehouse, misled the court with untrue sworn evidence; that document tampering had occurred; that the Council had deliberately fabricated evidence; that Concord Council deliberately concealed evidence; and that Officers of the council did not tell the Land and Environment Court the ' truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth' as they were sworn to do in court but rather were evasive, misleading and told "straight up and down" lies. In short, Parliament was told that Concord Council engaged in "total deception" (virtually what Ms Passas was once again saying the Mayor was engaging in). The matter of the Golden Triangle did not just fade away and was back being the subject of an address to Parliament again in 2007, on which occasion MP Chris Hartcher told Parliament of "serious allegations" surrounding Concord Council and its successor Canada Bay Council. Hartcher was speaking of developer Antoine Bechara who he said had enjoyed a run of success over the past decade and picked up about $20 million worth of real estate in the Golden Triangle. . The Sydney Morning Herald thereupon investigated the Golden Triangle matter and it found the sale to Mr Bechara or his associated companies of at least 11 properties, including one road, three heritage-listed cottages and both the triangle's public parks - all without formal public tender - and some below market value; a Concord council contract obliging the council to approve future development applications lodged by Mr Bechara for demolition of several properties; a history of planning decisions relating to Mr Bechara's properties within the triangle that provided him with particularly lucrative zonings; a retiree who refused to sell finding her uninsured Toyota Camry in flames (which a forensic investigator engaged by the Herald, Greg Kelly, found was a clear case of arson); another neighbour saying that council was considering reclaiming a substantial section of his land that he said had been earmarked for road widening required by Bechara's development; a neighbour across the road, Mr Alex Zissis, who said he had a concrete slab poured almost three metres inside his property. Mr Hartcher told Parliament: "Most concerning are the lengths to which council seems to be willing to go to appease its preferred developer - even closing a public road that provided access to other privately owned land so that the road too might be sold to the developer." He told Parliament he had referred the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. One of two green open spaces in the triangle, Chapman Reserve, which was sold to the Bechara company the Land and Environment Court declared an illegal act because the land was zoned for community purposes. (http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/a-triangle-of-odd-developments/2007/06/12/1181414305790.html?page=fullpage ).
Later that year the Sydney Morning Herald made another follow-up report on the Golden Triangle, stating that the "Labor-dominated" City of Canada Bay Council abandoned its “independent judgment” by signing a $2 million property contract that compelled it to approve future applications lodged by colourful property developer Antoine Bechara: "Last Friday, Justice Peter Biscoe overruled the council’s decision in February to approve Mr Bechara’s latest application to demolish the heritage-listed properties the council had sold him some years earlier". Thus Canada Bay Council already has a history of compromising or sacrificing heritage for monetary gain. In ordering the development consent be voided, Justice Biscoe stated: “Special condition 17 of the 2000 contract is tainted with the vice of the council purporting to bind itself contractually … that it will grant development consent,” he said. “The hypothetical observer might reasonably apprehend that council might not bring an impartial mind to the resolution of the question it was required to decide.”
( http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/council-biased-towards-developer-court-finds/2007/09/04/1188783236831.html ).
These things are all well removed geographically from Parramatta River, which is the topic of this webpage. However stories like the above are well to be aware of. Knowing that such background exists, one understands what an ex-councillor may have been referring to in general at the Breakfast Point Marina community meeting where she made disruptive and quite extreme remarks and interjections - believing that the Mayor was deceiving people that he was on the side of residents opposed to the Marina development .. and going on to say in frustration that it was 'all' corrupt (government) .. broadly referring to the well known goings-on in the past.
This present writer in doing a very small amount of speaking with residents at Mortlake encountered similar "jaded" views from the outset. The first man I spoke with about tghe history of change in the area, the owner of a very fine new home on the outskirts a little beyond one of the major new waterside luxury estates, bemoaned that once the planning laws were perceived as being the same for everyone, but not any longer. Now, he declared, "Those with money can have whatever they want in development outcomes". Just an isolated perception perhaps? Or, one wonders, how many others in and around the "New Suburbia" have come to think (or observe?) similarly?
After Ms Passas' outburst the rest of the community meeting on the new marina proposal stayed relatively tame and much of it was matter-of-fact presentations by professionals.
But at least one other speaker, Mr John Barnard, a resident who lives at Breakfast Point spoke also with clearly heightened feeling - and with assertions that people had been mislead. The transcript records him saying: "My comments are directed to something Sofie from Worley Parsons, which I used to have respect for and now I'm not sure if I do ... It sounds like you have been poisoned by your client's deceptive practices. You correctly said a marina was part of the vision of the developer, but you have misled us by what you didn't state and that is that the vision of the developer was that all the residents were told that it was going to be a private marina for Breakfast Point and not a public marina ...... they stated very clearly, not to only me but I'm sure to most people in this room, that it was going to be a private marina that was going to be at the end of Kendall Bay. So you are very deceptive in what you state."
[ It may be noted at the outset on one small point that Mr Barnard is wrong that the marina was ever "going to be at the end of Kendall Bay" because the idea for the marina can be traced back right to AGL's ideas for site redevelopment and was based on the then existing wharf, a marina built out either side of which would clearly run along off the 'side' of Kendall Bay, not be at the 'end' (head) of the bay. ]
Mr Barnard was referring to Ms Sofie Zivanovic who had address the meeting earlier on and had introduced herself as a "principal environmental planner from Worley Parsons", which company had been engaged by the developer to provide the strategic and statutory planning advice for the proposed Inner West Marina Project. Amongst many other things she had stated was "From the very beginning of the Breakfast Point project, access to the harbour for residents and the people of the Inner West has been an integral part of the development and a key element of the developer's vision. The 2002 Breakfast Point Master Plan includes a waterfront area activity area including boating facilities, a marina and a waterfront foreshore walk." She stated that the Breakfast Point Master Plans dated 1999 and 2002 for the redevelopment of the site allowed inclusion of a waterfront activity area and a marina.
The facilitator of the meeting, Ms Lucy Cole-Edelstein who calls herself the "Straight Talk" consultancy that specialises in community engagement and facilitation work, blocked Ms Sofie Zivanovic from responding in any way to Mr Barnard's assertions - even though Sofie seemed keen to respond. Nonetheless, a little later on in the night did provide comment relevant to what Mr Barnard said.
Although Ms Cole-Edelstein blocked Sofie Zivanovic from responding to such a significant assertion, the Mayor spoke up in respect of it shortly afterwards, saying : "Can I say this, since the Breakfast Point Master Plan was approved it's been changing like the sands of time. There have been so many changes. Going back to 2002 when it was approved, that Master Plan referenced a marina. There was no application there. If you can think back that far, there was no application there for to us deal with. It only referenced a marina and I think there was led to believe there was going to be something there, but not a commercial marina and that's what we're here to stand up against. A commercial marina in a public bay".
Sophie herself did later elaborate on this point and stated that the statutory planning documents that apply to the site are the 1999 Master Plan and the 2002 Master Plan, as well as the relevant Sydney Regional Environmental Plan for the harbour. She added that not one of those documents makes reference to a private marina ever being considered for the site.
Mr Paul Nicks, another resident at Breakfast Point therefore stated "Now what I'd like to hear from the developer is whether they deny their sales office telling people that the marina would be a private marina ... They certainly didn't say it was going to be a 172 berth public marina".
MR Kearns, the Development Manager for Breakfast Point, although at the meeting did not attempt to directly clarify this matter at that point in the discussion.
Cheryl, a local resident, asked "How likely is it that a marina proposal is knocked back? I would like to know perhaps how many marina proposals have been knocked back in say the last five years, does anyone have the information on that?".
To that question, ex-councillor Passas interjected "As much chance as me getting a job as a model". However a person from Department of Planning who was in the room was able to say that at least two that he knew of had been knocked back - but then added about how one of those appealed to the Land and Environment Court and the refusal was over-ruled.
At the close of the meeting the Mayor moved and recorded the following motion (which apparently was carried by large majority):
The resolution: The Councillors and residents of Canada Bay attending this meeting demand the total and proper remediation of Kendall Bay by Jemina, AGL;
Totally oppose the construction of a 172 berth public marina in Kendall Bay over the pollution;
Totally oppose the untried and unproven geotextile blanket proposed to cover up part of the pollution in the bay;
Totally oppose the construction of the 50 seat kiosk on the proposed marina;
Totally oppose the construction of any carparking facility for the proposed marina;
Demand the retention of a dedicated foreshore walkway solely for pedestrians and cyclists;
Demand the prohibition of any type of vehicle servicing the 172 berth marina from using the dedicated foreshore walk;
Wish to express in the strongest possible terms their disgust at the lack of transparent consultation with Council and the community by Breakfast Point Pty
All those in favour raise their hands; those against; motion carried.
A promotional website for the Inner West Marina exists:
The Inner West Marina website - http://innerwestmarinasydney.com.au (view at 7 Dec 2010)
This oddly, as at 7 December 2010 as shown above, had an opinion poll running which states an Environmental Assessment "is being prepared", and asking peoples' opinions on what should be part of the assessment. In effect this assessment had already been completed and submitted to Department of Planning along with the development application, and DoP had placed it on view.
Also as seen above, it states "The marina and jetty will provide public access and enhance the foreshore experience with the kiosk on the end of the existing jetty for informal get togethers" - but the current writer is not at present aware of where thIS referred-to "existing jetty" is. There had certainly been a large jetty there in the past but this was demolished years ago.
The ten volume marina project application (Department of Planning, 2010) went on display at various places including at the Library, Wellbank Street, at Central Concord - but with volumes 1,2,3 and 5 there missing. The Library said that they have little control over such documents as they do not belong to them or the Council but rather remain the property of the Department of Planning and are regularly returned to Planning. Heritage treament, environmental assessment, consultation etc. were all in one of the missing volumes - volume 1 - and so this information could not be seen at Concord Library.
The Library, when asked about the matter, had no solution to offer for the missing volumes problem. The Marina website had the following to say about exhibition and consultation (viewed 7 Dec 2010):
The website as above states that a number of community workshops were held to raise and discuss issues. There is a link "View our archived forum" but going there yielded (as at 7 Dec) "Sorry, project has been removed".
However, still on offer for information on the Marina at 7 Dec were:
Nearby marina of similar size and style, at Cabarita Point, the next point to the east.
Council also opposed the marina. A Mayor Minute in early November 2010 announced “Council has unanimously agreed to oppose a commercial 172-berth marina development at Kendall Bay". It also resolved to ensure future Canada Bay foreshore developments put public good before private. Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said: "Following a public meeting last Monday night designed to allow stakeholders to air their views and encourage discussion, Council has studied the issues and resolved to oppose this commercial development which is not in the public interest". As this is a Part 3A project, which means the NSW Planning Minister considers it a development of regional environmental planning significance, ultimately the approval lies with him. Council is however "ready to fight and oppose this marina" the Mayor said. The Mayoral Minute also expressed concern at the lack of transparent consultation with Council and community by the developers, Breakfast Point Pty Ltd. Breakfast Point Pty Ltd, is a joint venture with Rose Pty Limited. The Marina Proposal is currently on public exhibition with the Department of Planning, having been approved by the then Planning Minister Frank Sartor as a “State Significant Project” in 2007. Opposition to the marina began as early as 2007, the Sydney Morning Herald reporting on 17 December 2007 - "Residents of a prestigious housing development at Breakfast Point say their objections to a planned $6.5 million marina on their doorstep have been silenced after the developer forced owners off their own management committees. They complain the committees have been hijacked by employees of the developer, Rose Group, who have used proxy votes to get their way on issues affecting developments at the $1.5 billion rehabilitated industrial site. The proposed Kendall Bay commercial marina, with seven jetties and 177 berths, would be bigger than a mega-marina at Rose Bay rejected recently by Woollahra Municipal Council" (Article "Developer trying to roll us on marina, residents say" by Jimmy Thomson , http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/developer-trying-to-roll-us-on-marina-residents-say/2007/12/16/1197740096732.html ).
Marina and Kendall Bay developments in 2011
The Canada Bay Council continued its opposition to the Marina into 2011. The Council used "independent consultants" to assess or report on the Marina application. After receiving their reports, the Council concluded (Council Meeting Agenda, 15 February 2011) that: "a marina of this scale and nature proposed should never be buildt in Kendall Inlet due to conflicts of an environmental, social and economic nature which will inevitably occur". Council confirmed its opposition to the Marina at the 6 p.m. meeting that night (MO 2692 Resolved, Crs. O'Connell/Megna).
With the growing dissatisfaction by various persons that the marina, always known to have been planned for Kendall Bay, was turning out to be not just as marina for the estate's residents (as many no doubt had assumed was the intention) but rather a commercial marina aimed at attracting boat-owners from the entire Inner West, the State government decided to hold another enquiry. The Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) was instructed, on 27 September 2010, to take up the matter. The Minister directed that Dr Graeme Batley be on the enquiry (to ensure relevant technical expertise). The local interest groups did not seem to know about this, and even after the PAC had announced days and venues for the enquiry, to be held in Concord, the matter had still not appeared on local group websites.
The PAC is a creature itself of the same set of planning "reforms" (begun as the 'Sartor reforms') as gave rise to the notorious and controversial 'Part 3A' itself which Councils all across the State said ripped away their, and the peoples', power and signalled a significant step backwards for local democracy. Some write that they see the PAC as having been established as a sort of 'governor' or safety valve to the reforms lest they might blow apart the system politically, or the Party that did it all.
Notice of the Concord meeting of PAC to hear about the Marina proposal was published that public hearings would commence on 23 February 2011 at the Concord Community Centre, 1a Gipps Street, Concord. The hearing would be before planning assessment commissioners Dr Neil Shepherd AM (Chair), Mr John Court and Dr Graeme Batley. Their task was to "prepare a detailed Environmental Assessment". Seeing that an environmental assessment had already been on display for the project this presumably meant that some doubts had been cast upon it? The Planning Assessment Commission’s (PAC) public hearing into the marina application was set to last for three days, starting at 9:30 a.m. each day, on 23, 24,
As noted, the local groups' websites were not immediately updated to catch up on the coming hearing; however by or before 13 February 2011, the BP Residents Group ( http://www.bpresidents.com.au ) website was carrying the news of the coming hearing and was strongly urging people to attend, in the following terms:
- Lodge an objection by Feb 15 if not already lodged.
- Register by Feb 15 with PAC to speak at the Public Hearing into the Marina on Feb 23 (Ph Megan Webb at PAC on 9383 2113).
- Attend the first session of the PAC hearing on Feb 23 at 9.30am at The Concord Community Centre, 1a Gipps St. Concord as a demonstration of unity of purpose.
At this time (13 Feb 2011), the Planning Assessment Commission ( http://www.pac.nsw.gov.au ) did not have the upcoming hearing displayed at their homepage. The Commission's homepage is devoid of any news and any link to its publications, which is very poor communications for a government body of any sort. It does however have a very useful online "Register" in which searches can be made for specific projects. When "Breakfast Point" is put in that search box, nothing comes up about the marina project but something is found on another matter at Breakfast Point:
This is a routine document for the adaptive re-use of the Blacksmith's Shop for commercial use ( PAC File SO8-01771-1). Why that matter was determined by PAC (and not DoP) does not seem to be made clear within it. Although it is not clear why this case was delegated to PAC, in general PAC is a designated consent authority in the following circumstances for DAs:
- If the applicant has a reportable political donation involvement; or
- if an application is within the electoral district of the Minister for Planning; or
- if the Minister has a pecuniary interest in the matter.
The latter two should not apply to the Blacksmith's shop; the first one possibly might(?). To make matters even 'cloudier', File SO8-01771-1 (page 1) states that "Any advice or notice to the Certifying Authority and the PAC shall be served on the Council"
Another example perhaps about quality, or quality control, of the Commission's work? Note signatures do not carry the names of the persons signing. These would probably be the signatures of members Ms Donna Campbell (a former director of Legal Services at the Environmental Protection Authority) and Mr Lindsay Kelly (a former NSW Government architect). At the moment these are persons very well known to staff and associates; but in the years to come who might know? Hence is is only basic common sense to print names as well as sign names. (from PAC File SO8-01771-1).
A typical routine signature; this being that of the Minister for Planning on 27 September 2010, on the
document instructing the PAC to take up the Marina case.
Whereas PAC sometimes shows information deficiencies and seeming lack of quality control as noted above, its various reports are in fact very useful and do in places contain excellent information. In this regard is may be remembered that most 'PAC' report information is repackackages from all the submissions to PAC, and in effect this is showing that some very good things have been submitted to PAC, and that the public consultations/hearings process is a very valuable thing to have going. In that regard at least, PAC has been a large step in the right direction.
Although nothing can be found about the marina project by searching "Breakfast Point" in the PAC 'Register', a search there on "marina" does find it (as Ref. "R012/10") [ It is also linked appropriatelyh at PAC to this DoP webpage - http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/index.pl?action=view_job&job_id=1311 ; - however at the DoP end there is no link or mention that the matter has been referred to PAC - being just one more little illustration perhaps of the rather great 'mess' that the NSW Planning Department is in for ease of tracing things. ].
Theoretically, the Commission is "independent" of the Government, the Minister and the Department of Planning - but in practice and history has been very closely tied to it. Where the Commission has delegated approval powers some critics have regarded it as a rubber stamp because the approvals have averaged less than two weeks, which is barely the time needed for the circulation of the documents involved, however the Commission cites its swift approval of most projects as evidencing it's 'high efficiency'. Where public hearings are involved, the Commission carries a case as active for about 40 days on average.
The Commission is also asked to give independent advice on developments. One such case in 2009 was the "Eastern Creek Waste Project", which was much opposed by locals. This was to establish a waste facility at the former Pioneer quarry site at Eastern Creek. The facility would include a waste recovery centre for recycling building materials and green waste and a non-putrescible landfi ll (in the former quarry void). The proposal was referred to the Commission in order to review the Department’s recommendations. The Commission considered the DG’s assessment report and the recommended conditions of consent and relevant documents, met with senior Departmental staff for a briefing, visited the site, and reviewed other supporting documentation. The key issues considered were waste, leachate management, traffic and access and amenity issues concerning air quality and noise. The Commission considered that the Department had carried out a thorough assessment of key issues raised in submissions and the recommendation in the DG’s assessment report was reasonable. Community views as to whether or not Commission involvement 'helped' in any way, or not, are currently unknown. That case was handled without public hearing.
As an example of former public hearings by the Commission the "Bulli Seam Coal Project" one might be considered. The Minister issued a request in November 2009 for the Commission to undertake an expert review of the proposed development, specifically on the significance and acceptability of the potential subsidence related impacts of the project on significant natural features, built infrastructure and the values of Sydney’s drinking water catchment, and for recommendations as to appropriate measures to avoid, control, or offset these impacts. The terms of reference included a request to conduct public hearings and provide comment on issues raised in submissions and public hearings. The Bulli Seam Operations Project relates to the continuation of longwall mining operations at the Appin Mine and West Cliff Colliery within existing coal leases and new mining leases and extends the life of the mine by approximately 30 years. The Colliery is located about 25km north-west of Wollongong in NSW. It is owned and operated by Illawarra Coal Holdings Pty Ltd (ICHPL), a wholly owned subsidiary of BHP Billiton Pty Limited. The Commission reported virtually nothing on the outcome of the hearings in it's annual report, in some contrast with reportage on other major project hearings. This was however, a major thing of public interest and many submissions were received - as can be located via the "Register" aforementioned. As a small example, the Colong Foundation made a submission that natural heritage and pristine hydrological values would be severely compromised, and in the case of pristine stream values lost, if the proposed mining proceeds. Rivers SOS Allicance wrote "Unfortunately, under this Part 3A regime, the bigger the projects the less care and time is taken in the approvals process. The reverse should apply. Streamlined decision-making is touted as cutting red tape in the national interest, however more regard for community views and local environments might better achieve this aim, not only with regard to long term effects and inter-generational equity, but also with regard to keeping some national control of resources such as coal. As an article in the International Longwall News (26.11.09) commented, on the decline of Australiancontrolled mining companies: ' ... we’ll just watch as the Chinese, British, Japanese, Americans, Canadians and others pick us off, one by one ...'. One-stop shop mining approvals giving unfettered discretion to one person, the Minister for Planning, make for open slather. Increasingly, coal profits flow out of the country along with the coal itself". The SOS alliance also noted: "A public hearing run by the Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) will be convened before a determination is made on the Bulli Seam Project. The very fact that a hearing will be held brings problems in its wake. Objectors have no right of appeal following a PAC hearing, except on limited judicial review grounds". Their recommendation was "Abolition of Part 3A and reinstatement of rights of appeal". Julie Sheppard (of NPA) wrote a submission asserting inadequate consultation and doubtful "independence" of the PAC. She wrote inter alia: "For a proposal of this magnitude, the consultation time has been manifestly inadequate. The initial meagre 6 weeks to comment on the enormous EA was a joke. Although we are grateful for the opportunity to comment further at this PAC hearing, publicity for this has also been inadequate. Apart from the Sydney Morning Herald, the ads have largely been restricted to 1 local paper in 1 region – Macarthur The implication of this proposal for the health of the Georges R. particularly, warranted publicity in all downstream areas, not just Macarthur. As with the Metropolitan PAC hearings I have serious concerns about the true independence of the panel when 3 of the 5 members have strong links to the coal industry. This is not to cast aspersions on the individuals involved but to make the point that the panel members need to be seen to be without any conflict of interest in order for any recommendations from the PAC to be accepted as fully impartial by the general public". Sharyn Cullis also wrote in similar vein about the consultation process: "Underground; under the public Radar! The integrity of the decision making process is threatened by the lack of honest and succinct information, provided by the proponent and the lack of genuine attempts to inform and engage the broader public in a truly consultative manner, prior to the PAC. It is therefore anticipated that the level of public interest in the PAC will be poor! Limited consultation has effectively set up a smokesceen blocking the community view, and consequently stifles the discussion and debate that ethically and democratically should be occurring. The responsibility has rested with BHP and they have treated consultation as a matter of local, rather than regional or even state significance. Historically the local communities (centred on Appin) are more directly coal dependant and perhaps conditioned to the acceptance of coalmining impacts than the general community. BHP too have bombarded the local communities, with their apparent generosity; Community investment and support for 2008-09 of more than $1 million (Oct 09, Illawarra Coal Seam Bulli Seam Project). BHP’s otherwise limited consultation strategy has managed dissent through maintaining ignorance of the proposal. Suburbs at Sydney’s southern edge and the northern suburbs of Wollongong, even though these are geographically close to the defined area of mining impact, particularly have been ignored. They are also likely to be affected by future coal haulage which will be all by road. Furthermore some arguments presented by BHP mislead the public into believing the risk of impacts will be minor and manageable! The statement made that “Illawarra Coal has no plans to mine directly under any rivers in the area”, published on the front page in the glossy brochure “Illawarra Coal An Update October 09” is simplistic and misleading". etc. Others sent technical submissions, e.g. Dr Ann Young wrote: "I draw attention to the comment on Appendix A p. 52 that ‘the level of impact to a stream .. can be managed by limiting the amount of extraction and caving that occurs’. This limiting is exactly what conservationists are seeking and the reason is clear in the sorry list of major stream impacts and pools drying up on p 54. While the subsidence history of those streams has helped to plan to avoid some major impacts, part of the problem lies in the reliance on those subsidence calculations. There is almost no attention in the EA to the well-documented and reasonably well-understood geomorphological processes of stream and valley erosion in sandstone landscapes. This means that the impacts of subsidence are not properly understood" etc. Another person raising technical detail said at the hearings: "I would like to take a minute here to recount the latest incident in river monitoring which was brought up at last night’s meeting of the Appin Area Community Working Group. This incident occurred during December 2009 when Longwall 33 of Westcliff Mine was in its last stage. The monitoring picked up fracturing of Rockbars 38 & 39, 50 to 75 metres before the end of the longwall’s run but the longwall continued to operate to the end of its planned run which was within 20 metres of the rivers edge. This fracturing of these rockbars in the Georges River had first been noticed eighteen months earlier during the run of Longwall 32 yet the plan for Longwall 33 had not been modified prior to commencement, or stopped when damage was shown to be worse just 75 metres from the end of it’s run. The company merely stated to the Appin Area Community Working Group that this damage was acceptable and although the members of the group did not agree it is too late to correct that particular damage now, but it could have been prevented by more stringent setbacks of the longwall from the rivers edge. There was no mention of a repair process to be undertaken as is apparently promised in this current EA for the next 30 years, perhaps no undertaking had been made during the previous applications for extension of mining leases or perhaps the Georges River is one of those eggs that has to be cracked? It is also important to note here that “closure” on this stream was less than 200mm which is supposedly another “acceptable” standard. However the damage is substantial despite this standard having been met" etc. Hurstville Council wrote to "strongly object" to the project on a variety of grounds.
And so on it goes. With masses of such submissions from the "public", just exactly what does the PAC do?
The PAC reported "By any standards this is a very substantial and complex project proposal."
The PAC report referred to itself in this case as "the Panel". The final report stated that the Panel had concentrated on subsidence aspects.
The report reads: "Non-conventional subsidence is concentrated in valley floors and valley sides can impact severely on natural and man-made features in these areas because it causes uplift and buckling of valley floor strata and closure of the valley". Mmmm?
Sounds like they had in mind the old 'valley anticline' theory developed by McElroy and others?
The Commission recognised the numerous statements of information deficiencies by many or most of the submissions.
It also took on board all the remarks about negative effects of the "planning reforms" like Part 3A in stiffling rights of appeal etc. (in this case for 30 years).
The Commission/Panel therefore wrote: "The Panel is of the view that the deficiencies in the information supporting the Proposal are sufficient to warrant a recommendation of no Approval for the eastern and southern portions of the Study Area. The consequences of allowing the project to proceed in these areas are potentially very significant: the various protections for significant natural features are 'turned off' by the Part 3A process, the timeframe is at least 30 years and the opportunity for third parties to appeal on the merits is extinguished."
However, the Panel considered "it may be possible to construct an Approval that would cope with the deficiencies in information and still produce an acceptable outcome". It recommended that there should be requirement of negligible subsidence-related impact for various nominated waterways (a dozen or so) across the area. This would make longwall mining planning extremely difficult; and could possibly largely kill the project(?). Certainly much more response and work by the proponent is necessitated..
What therefore has transpired in fact, not surprisingly, is that the PAC has closed off "R008/09 - Bulli Seam Coal Project" (referred to as 'Bulli Seam Operations Project' in some of the submissions sent) as now deemed "completed"; but has now moved onto another project called "Bulli Seam Operations" (for advice, Ref. No. A037/11) which is still in progress. This project was requested on 04/02/2011 and there have been no documents yet made public.
The Kendall Bay marina has nothing like the complexity of the Bulli Seam proposal but if there were many submissions made it could go the same way, i.e. obliging the PAC to call for greater protective rigours and/or declare information insufficiencies, both of which would necessitate detailed respone by the proponent and could much delay the project.
On the PAC Panel for the Kendall Bay marina, Dr Neil Shepherd AM has been a former Director-General of the Environment Protection Authority and a former Deputy Director-General of the NSW Cabinet Office.
Mr John Court is an Environmental engineering consultant who has formerly reviewed such matters as Orica's HCB waste storage and destruction. He has also been described as a "chemical engineer and environmental expert with extensive experience in the planning system".
Dr Graeme Batley is a Chief Research Scientist with the CSIRO and has had experience in assessing contaminants in waters and sediments. His publications are at http://www.clw.csiro.au/staff/BatleyG/publications.html - his greatest area of interest is in analytical and environmental chemistry of trace contaminants in natural water systems (as stated at http://www.csiro.au/people/Graeme.Batley.html ).
The "Save Kendall Bay" website ( http://savekendallbay.com ), which is maintained by the Breakfast Point Residents Group Inc., states "The developer of Breakfast Point is a company called Breakfast Point Pty Ltd. It is a $4 company jointly owned by a developer, Rose Pty Ltd, and the Building Industry Association Superannuation Fund, Cbus. Breakfast Point Pty Ltd have applied to build a mega commercial marina of 172 berths in Kendall Bay over the area that is heavily polluted by past AGL activities. The State Government has given initial approvals even though no agreements have been reached for remediating the area!". The website had not yet picked up on the fact that there was going to be a State enquiry and a new "detailed Environmental Assessment" by the State government as late as 27 January 2011. That website's last word on the matter at that time, late January 2011, was "The state Government once again stands charged with a total lack of care, foresight and planning". Similarly, the Breakfast Point Residents website ( http://www.bpresidents.com.au ) did not have any news of the coming inquiry. The latest news related to the marina at the BP residents' website was about a survey conducted at Breakfast Point. Taverner Research conducted the survey to gauge the attitude of Community Association members towards the Kendall Bay marina. The results were overwhelmingly against the proposal. Face to face interviews were conducted with 200 owner-occupiers in Breakfast Point between 10 and 18 December 2010. The survey found strong opposition to the marina, with 84% of respondents opposing the marina’s construction (including 70% ‘strongly opposing’) and only 8% supporting it. Some 97% of respondents said they were aware of the marina proposal, and 80% of respondents could not think of any benefits at which such a marina could bring to Breakfast Point A high 98% nominated at least one problem associated with the marina - including traffic and parking, noise, rubbish and water pollution, costs to strata associations, bringing more non-residents into the area, security issues, loss of views and change in the ambience of the area.
Besides the above websites not showing awareness of the coming public hearings, few of the local councillors were apparently aware of this planned further enquiry or had any opinion on it until the hearing days were drawing near.
All of this lack of discussion of the coming hearings may have been because none of the newspapers had picked up on the matter or done any story on it? However as the hearing days drew near the matter did get publicity, Councillors became aware of it and at least two prepared to address the Commission and the local press gave it coverage. In the week prior to the hearing, Hannah Parkes of the Inner West Courier wrote (22/2/2011, page 11): "Hundreds of residents are expected to state their case to a panel which will decide the fate of a proposed 172 berth marina at Kendall Bay at a final public hearing this week". Mmmm, "final" public hearing? Had there been any earlier public hearings on the proposal? Possibly not, but this one was reported with an air of "finality", the headline of the article also referring to the coming event being the "final hearing". According to Parkes' article, "Mr McGrath [of Breakfast Point Residents' Group] said approval of the development, originally submitted in 2007, would potentially affect all future waterside developments in NSW. 'If Rose Corp is allowed to put a mat on the floor of the riverbed as a method of remediating what is a very polluted bay, a precedent will be created for any developer to put a mat down and walk away from their responsibilities' ".
Some of the previous newspaper reportage on the marina, prior to Planning Assessment Commission involvement, had told readers to find more information on the proposal at "Department of Planning website, http://planning.nsw.gov.au
This was rather inadequate advice as anyone searching there for < Kendall Bay marina > would probably not have found it (or only with the greatest of difficulty/persistence?). Such a search finds nothing relevant, viz:
Similiarly, any search for "Breakfast Point marina" finds nothing at the Department of Planning website.
In the "What's New" section of the Department of Planning homepage there was also not run any mention of the planned PAC enquiry.
This photo in this news article is across Kendall Bay from Cabarita Point. The abundant vertical structures rising from the sand are mangrove pneumatophores. The Inner West Courier, reporting on 3 November 2010 on how those at a public meeting opposed the marina proposal also directed readers to find out more ("view the proposal") at planning.nsw.gov.au . Such vague URL references to government department website homepages generally have poor lasting basis, and that was true in this case too. Where Planning permanently stores information, and how to more reliably find DoP information has for long been a major problem for information seekers, and this is discussed below. [ http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/300-oppose-kendall-bay-marina
One of the webpages at Department of Planning website wihch has a 'search box'. A large amount of time was spent at DoP website
( www.planning.nsw.gov.au ) but was unsucessful, finding in fact nothing whatsoever about the Kendall Bay marina.
Google produces only one find from searching for marina at Kendall Bay at Planning's website (and that sole find is NOT useful, as noted below).
The Inner West Courier was certainly not the only party telling the public that full details of the marina proposal "can be obtained from the Department’s website at www.planning.nsw.gov.au ". This line was published by virtually any newspaper or others who commented on it, and presumably must have been a line given to the journalists.
The sole find that Google search, as done above, could yield on Kendall Bay marina at Department of Planning website is to this file:
That is a document dated 24/03/2006 - with no internal referencing to what it relates to (again another ubiquitous problem with so much of the documentation that DoP possesses, and how it is stored - note that file path gives no obvious clue except that 'bp' would stand for Breakfast Point in this case; and what 'asp' stands for is unknown).
EIS documents, paper copy, ends up a local libraries too. But the mechanism of that is not straight-forward either. When the EIS for the marina went on display in late 2010 this writer went to Concord Library to view it. There the library indeed had a pile of the EIS documents (the EIS being multi-volume). However one volume of the set was missing. Upon enquiry about this to librarians it turned out the the documents were NOT the property of the Library (at least not at that stage). They were certainly on display but they were actually the property of the Department of Planning. Thus the librarians did not feel obigated to look into why one volume (the main volume?) was missing from the EIS.
According to the EIS ("Environmental Assessment") why a marina was needed, was stated as: "Inner West Marina has been designed as a result of changing demand for storage of sea vessels in Sydney, and in particular, west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There has been extensive renewal of harbourside land from industrial use to residential, increasing population and the subsequent demand for recreational use of the River and harbour".
Does that mean the marina was hoping to cater for open-sea vessels too, not just smaller river cruisers? The documents stated that the marina will berth vessels up to 25 m long (which is quite large), but with the 'majority' being in the range of 10-16 m long.
Contrary to the fears of some of the nearby residents, the developer believed that "Experience with marinas in other locations suggests that it is likely that the proposed marina could lead to an increase in the value of nearby properties".
A car park for 58 vehicles was planned for the marina.
Some of the EIS ("Environment Assessment") materials was also made available online for the developer by Bang the Table Pty Ltd. This stated inter alia, that "Bang the Table Pty Ltd (ACN 127 001 236) welcomes you to the Bang the Table™ community engagement portal at http://localhost:3000 (the Site)".
Whatever http://localhost:3000 "community engagement portal" had been, that URL was accessing nothing by January 2011.
According to the EIS ("Environmental Assessment") the website by Bang the Table was "the key communication channel employed for the community consultation process". This online consultation tool was meant to:
•allow more people into the conversation, reflecting a range of views,
•identify more issues of concern to the community as early in the lifecycle of the project as possible so that they can be addressed by the project team expeditiously; and
•contribute to building community ownership of the outcomes.
Apparently notification was given by "various methods to a total more than 339,250 residents" and in such people were directed towards the Bang the Table website. This is stated in the EIS (Vol. 1, page 29). The website forum was also advertised in the Inner West Weekly, Inner West Courier and Village Voice Drummoyne newspapers, again directing interested members of the public to 'have their say' on the website. After all this extensive notification and invitation process, the website apparently only got a mere 15 people to express any views - via online forum and survey.
However, nothing at all about results can be found at Bang the Table web pages. The EIS also does not give the result of the polling done by Bang the Table. It does cite the matters raised by the 15 persons who communicated with the website. These views/concerns are the same as expressed in other places as herein noted (e.g. Some participants questioned the previous disclosure of the marina plan to purchasers of property in Breakfast Point Estate, including the suggestion that the original plan was for a “private” marina not a “commercial” marina. Some residents raised the issue of possible imposition of marina costs on the Breakfast Point Estate for such things as maintenance of roads, footpaths and gardens. Others expressed concerns were over potential fuel pollution from boats, sewage from boats, and fumes from boat engines; noise; additional traffic and demand for parking; welfare of rowers on the river with increased marina traffic). The EIS/EA treats most or all of such issues, altough the first matter (that purchasers of property in Breakfast Point Estate had imagined/assumed or been informed that the intended marina was for their private use, not a full commercial marina for 'outsiders') has not been noted as addressed (it might be addressed somewhere in the EIS but just not yet come across?). Although direct address of that issue has not been found, the 2002 Masterplan had already made provision for 100 public offstreet car parking spaces associated with a future marina. According to norms then in place that could have signalled a marina of which the size and scale could be between 166-333 berths. It is not known if Council had asked questions back then as to the intended nature of the marina.
According to the "Project Coordinator" (on 7 Dec 2010), during the exhibition period "a number of community workshops wore to be held to allow people to learn more about the proposal, and to provide a forum to raise and discuss issues". It has not been learned where those were conducted, or anything of what transpired. Also an online poll was conducted and the results of that too are unknown.
Bang the Table was established in 2007 by Dr Crispin Butteriss and Matthew Crozier, who have stated "Having worked in the Australian and UK public sectors for around 30 years collectively, they were painfully aware of the need to bring a larger audience into the debate about public policy. They had both been in the position of running or speaking at unproductive “town hall” style community meetings which provide little benefit for the community or the change proponent (whether government or private sector). These meetings were, and remain, typically attended by a few people who are either passionately interested in the subject at hand, vehemently opposed to it, or heard about the free tea and biscuits and came along for a sticky-beak".
Although Bang the Table has a special project search facility, shown above, this returns only one marina project as shown;
and hence fails to reveal not reveal at all any of the work that Bang the Table did for the Kendall Bay marina proposal.
It also does not show up on a page they have which lists their clients to date. Bang the Table operates from
158 Johnston Street, Collingwood, Victoria.
"Bang the Table" company also maintains a Facebook presence, at http://www.lisp4.facebook.com
Searching that for "marina" gets 1,170 finds. Searching it for < inner west marina > gets one find, which merely notified that Bang the Table had engaged with that project and set up an interactive website for it, in their usual manner.
Who else has discussed "Inner West Marina" online - besides the 'consultation' commenced by Bang the Table? Google finds only one other. That is
the "Breakfast Point Lifestyle" website at http://www.breakfastpointlifestyle.com.au
This website was founded by Alison Beveridge, and it states: "Breakfast Point Lifestyle has been created to promote Breakfast Point to the world, and share with others the amazing lifestyle that this area has to offer! As long time resident, and Breakfast Point Lifestyle Founder, Alison Beveridge says “the little town where I grew up even has 2 local papers…in Breakfast Point we have an incredible community, but there is no local paper or way of capturing the truly interesting stories in our area. We saw this blog as an opportunity to develop our community further, and share with the others the great things about Breakfast Point… Enjoy Breakfast Point Lifestyle..we look forward to hearing from you and seeing you soon!" Alison lives and works at Breakfast Point, where she works at Breakfast Point Realty. This website on 5 November also posted a poll about the marina proposal:
The result from 270 votes was:
No way...go away (92%, 248 Votes)
Yes, we need one desperately (5%, 14 Votes)
Doesn't affect me (2%, 5 Votes)
I need more information (1%, 3 Votes
Doesn't affect me (0%, 0 Votes)
The accompanying comments were:
An interesting point in the above, that nobody else seemed to have known or mentioned, is that about the nearby marina at Cabarita Point, just to the east, having an expansion proposal, "travelling under the radar" so far.
Only one respondent in the above survey (Nik) commented that he was all for the marina proposal. His statement that First Fleeters "moored" their boats there is not known to be correct, but the Point is named Breakfast Point because an early party of explorers going up the river by boats called in there for breakfast. The did not stay there long before pushing off again to continue upstream and hardly formed any habit of mooring their boats there.
Apart from carrying out this interesting local poll of residents, this website has little more to say about the marina.
The Council commissioned a 'planning study' of the proposal from consultants. They concluded: "Having undertaken this assessment, we have concluded that the proposal will have a deleterious impact on the Breakfast Point residents and the locality and is not in the public interest". The consultants drew attention to SREP (Sydney Harbour Catchment) 2005 wherein it states "The public good has precedent over the private good wherever and whatever change is proposed for Sydney Harbour and its foreshores". The consultants believed that the Inner West Marina proposal failed that "test". However Kendall bay is on the Parramatta River, not in "Sydney Harbour" - more confused thinking or communication. Council then formulated as its own the public interest over private interest policy and exhibited that policy for 14 days before adopting it. However it in no way altered or augmented the "Sydney Harbour" wording within it all, thereby wasting an excellent opportunity to rectify some of the confusion for places like Kendall Bay, Canada Bay and Homebush Bay. The terminological chaos with 'Sydney Harbour' is added to by GSA Planning's report stating (page 17) that the planned marina would obscure for 600 persons a day on the foreshore walkway "the views of Sydney Harbour" - but no view of Sydney Harbour are obtained from there. The views are either of Kendall Bay itself, or if looking northwards then of the Parramatta River and the slopes on its northern side. Although the terminology is confused the big marina certainly would have a dramatic effect on the 'local' view, and it is know (from a public meeting and in other ways) that many consider such dramatic effect would be a devastating one rather than an enhancing one. This is a matter of aesthetics perhaps, unless specifically written into adopted planning principles.
The findings of the employed consultants were highly consistent with the opinions the Council already had. The consultants were GSA Planning of Paddington, http://www.gsaplanning.com.au - who have also done independent planning assessment work at Homebush Bay (Rhodes West). The principals are Gary Shiels who has been a planner with Leichhardt and Wollahrah councils, and George Karavanas who has dealt with "numerous" complex and controversial development matters and DAs on behalf of applicants and councils.
GSA Planning also themselves proposed some planning principles, applicable to such waterfront area e.g. natural assets "are to be maintained and, where feasible, restored for their scenic and cultural values and their biodiversity and geodiversity".
It is not known if Council has adopted as policy any of such wording suggested by the consultants but in general the Council has made it abundantly clear that if favours maintaining the current open space "natural" scenery of Kendall Bay - free of any large marina presence.
GSA Consulting also maintained that the proposal would "prevent" the (future) remediation of the foreshores.
The public access foreshore trail at Kendall Bay. The GSA Planning 2010 report revealed that this was already
owned by Canada Bay Council, and that legality of private access across this for a marina could be in question.
The GSA Planning 2010 report revealed that the foreshore strip is now owned by the Council - something that has been noted as likely intended for a long time. However is it certain yet? On page 3 of the their report, GSA stated "The Council owned walking/cycling track provides unimpeded visual access tdo water views ...", yet on page 16 of the same report the words used were "The walkway on the foreshore which is owned by the public, with the Council as the custodian, is a public good that should be protected".
Sydney Ferries Corporation has been "strongly" opposed to a commercial marina at Kendal (sic) Bay since 2007.
The Rowing Association of NSW ( www.rowingnsw.asn.au ) also wrote to the government, in January 2008, expressing concern about the growth of marinas and boat moorings in the upper Parramatta River, and the bad wave effects all this was having for rowing clubs. The association asked to be informed of any action taken in respect of their letter, or of any changes to the status of the proposed project. What information they ever got back from State government is not currently known. They also made known their concerns to the local mayor, Cr. Angelo Tsirekas. The association's website gives nothing more on the matter post-2008. However the Sydney Rowing Club did later cover it, at http://sydneyrowingclub.com.au/rowingnews_detail.php?recordID=46
The Rowing Club concluded "Party Boats and other 'day traffic' will be able to use the marina. Buses and taxis will service the party boats at all hours of the day and night. Drunken revellers will use the surrounding areas for urinating, vomiting, graffitiing, yahooing, fighting and the like. This is a grubby and ill conceived proposal. We ask that you join us in the fight against it. You should inform your neighbours and friends and ask that they join this fight also". The proponent, however, had specifically denied on a number of occasional that such partying could develop there under proposed arrangements. Party boats would not be able to use the marina, they stated.
Kendall Bay proposed marina ("Inner West Marina") and its parking area, shown in black.
Photo mockup of how the marina would look, looking across Kendall Bay from Cabarita Point.
At the two days of public hearings in front of the Planning Assessment Commission into the proposed 172 berth commercial public marina in Kendall Bay at Breakfast Point, several hundred local residents lodged objections to the proposal and over 1,200 signed petitions against it. There were 38 presentations in all to the PAC, 37 against and one pro a marina provided it is private and for local residents. Presenters were from Breakfast Point, Kendall Inlet, Sydney Rowers, Residents of Cabarita and Friends of Cabarita Park. The Commission Chair then concluded that it would take PAC about a month to complete its report and present it to the Planning Minister.
At about the same time as the PAC hearings the residents group had invited Inner West politicans to comment, especially the candidates for the coming State elections. Only two responses were received (by 3 March 2011), and were as follows (Mr Sidoti is also the Mayor of Burwood):
Alex Elliott -
I support the Breakfast Point Residents Group in their campaign to oppose the construction of the Kendall Bay Marina. This development is a project under the provisions of Part 3A of the Environmental Planning & Assessment Act. Part 3A has had a corrupting influence on planning in NSW and has been abused by the current government and the property development industry. There have been 668 successful applications under Part 3A in the last 4 years and only 5 rejected. This makes a mockery of the planning process. In the electorate of Drummoyne there are three developments under Part 3A, the Iron Cove Bridge duplication, the Kendall Bay Marina and the Walker Street, Rhodes development. The community has no input whatsoever. Consultation is a farce and has no bearing on the project. I am calling for a royal commission into planning. If elected I will demand one. It is the only way to restore confidence in the planning system in NSW. The Wood Royal Commission into the NSW police brought about significant improvements to policing in NSW. The same needs to happen in planning. Those who have engaged in corrupt conduct need to be exposed and prosecuted. The Liberals will not want a royal commission and they show little desire for a truly independent planning regime. A Liberal government will be as susceptible as the Labor government to the interests of big property developers. We need real reform in this area. I am available to assist in any way possible in your campaign before and after the election.
John Sidoti -
RE: Proposed Kendall Bay Marina
I am writing to you to formally place on the record my strongly held view that the proposed Inner West Marina in Kendall Bay should not proceed as it is not in the best interests of the Breakfast Point community.
The State Labor Government's on-
going facilitation of this project with a number of NSW Government agencies, in the face of overwhelming community objection, is emblematic of their contempt for the principle of local communities having the capacity to decide important matters about the character of their local area.
This is a project which ultimately should have been decided by Canada Bay Council. Regrettably, the State Labor Government has been determined to have this project considered under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act – allowing the State Labor Planning Minister to ride roughshod over the wishes of the local community.
The NSW Liberals have committed to scrapping Part 3A, returning planning powers to local communities, and ensuring locals are genuinely consulted in any development process. However, as we are only too well aware, consideration of the project's future is nevertheless at an advanced stage of assessment under the existing Part 3A process.
In my submission to the Planning Assessment Commission I will be outlining my concerns, which include:
1. Insufficient environmental remediation
2. Inappropriate size and planned operation
3. Compromised foreshore access
Insufficient environmental remediation
Having consulted extensively with residents and stakeholders, I am not convinced that the current remediation plan sufficiently deals with the significant environmental concerns posed by the contaminated sediment on the sea floor. Furthermore, I do not believe that the current proposal approaches the level of remediation ordered by the EPA in 2004. Considering the proposed frequency of water craft traffic, the power and torque of modern props and the sensitivity of the local environment, I believe an enhanced remediation must take place before a marina of any sort could be considered in this area.
Inappropriate size and planned operation
I observe that the current proposal provides for only a 58-
space car park for boat owners, located 250 metres from the marina. The proposal allows only for access between the car park and marina through a narrow passage between residential blocks, which is entirely inappropriate. I also note that no additional parking is proposed for deliveries, users of the kiosk or other maintenance vehicles
Furthermore, in recognition of the fact that Breakfast Point residents pay for the upkeep of roads and footpaths within the complex, I believe it is inappropriate that residents should be forced to bear the increased financial burden associated with visitors using the marina.
The significant visual impact, noise, and ongoing pollution from the vessels has not been justified by the developer, particularly considering that no such commercial marina proposal was included in the initial purchase agreements for many local residents. In addition, the lack of access restrictions limiting noise from boat owners is an impediment to ongoing resident amenity.
Compromised foreshore access
The proposed marina will also compromise public access to the foreshore around Kendall Bay. Over the past year, I have fought the Keneally Labor Government's decision to restrict foreshore access at the Rivendell Mental Health Unit in Concord. As we have more and more residents coming to the area and increasing the population density, I believe we must place a higher premium on having access to green-
space and our beautiful foreshore. Whether it be the gardens at Yaralla or the foreshores of Concord and Breakfast Point, I will continue to campaign to ensure that the local community retains access to its open spaces for recreation.
It is my strong belief that the current proposal for the Inner West Marina does not appropriately safeguard the interests of the local community. I am disappointed that the Keneally Labor Government has elected to have this development dealt with under Part 3A, and will continue to campaign on behalf of the community to ensure that planning powers are returned to them.
I acknowledge the tremendous efforts that local residents have made to protect the character of the Breakfast Point precinct and the serenity of Kendall Bay. I am pleased to give an assurance that as Member for Drummoyne I will fight for an outcome that is in the interests of local residents and will pursue every available avenue to achieve that end.
Liberal for Drummoyne
The next small addition to generally bad 'mega-marina' perceptions came in regard to a mega-marina proposal which Breakfast Point residents had said they didn't want their bay to become like - namely the Elizabeth Bay mega-marina. Developments on that were described in a rather 'weird' or difficult to follow article by journalists Kate McClymont and Sean Nicholls, encaptioned "How Obeids kept plan for giant marina afloat". This was a front-page article in the Sydney Morning Herald of 21 May 2011. This article commences with "Peter Fitzhenry was flabbergasted. Halfway through last year, the panel beater from Camperdown was at work when he received a call from the controversial Labor MP Eddie Obeid. Mr Obeid then handed the phone to the then planning minister, Tony Kelly. 'The conversation was short and sweet' said Mr Fitzhenry - 'How many berths do you have?' Kelly asked me.'' The article goes on to explain that at the time, Mr Fitzhenry was co-owner of the Elizabeth Bay marina with Michael Dalah, a Sydney businessman and long-time family friend of the Obeids. The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, whose council would normally have control over the development, was adamant that the picturesque Elizabeth Bay would not become a mega-marina for boats. The Eddie Obeid connection between the owners and the Minister was apparenly a prelude to an effort to by-pass the Council. In what the journalists referred to as "an extraordinary move" the then planning minister tried to bypass the City of Sydney by recommending the marina be dealt with by the Joint Regional Planning Panel. However, the panel secretary, Paula Poon, said that a fortnight before the state election the panel was contacted by the department ''asking to put it on hold until further notice''. She said no reason was given, according to the journalists. When the latter asked Mr Kelly about his involvement in the marina development application, Mr Kelly replied: ''Mate, there was just that much going on, I just can't remember.'' He also couldn't remember hosting a meeting in his parliamentary office to talk about the marina, but the journalists found that others who were at that meeting remembered it. Mr Fitzhenry told the journalists that he "should have smelt a rat" when his neighbour Moses Obeid, Mr Eddie Obeid's son, introduced him to a deal to buy 50 per cent of the marina. The article goes on to state that last December Mr Fitzhenry's worst fears were confirmed when he discovered that he supposedly no longer owned any shares in the marina - and that documents lodged with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission by his partner Mr Dalah notified it of a change of shareholders in the marina company to that effect. The date was recorded as November 2010 but had also been been crossed out and backdated to March 15 (the date Mr Fitzhenry had in fact made his purchase). Mr Fitzhenry had in fact paid $600,000 to the Melbourne developer Albert Dadon for the purchase. The article does not make it entirely clear what had been going on exactly, but also stated that the marina had another "new owner", Mr Joseph Georges, a Strathfield real estate agent. Mr Dalah said Moses Obeid had introduced him to Mr Georges. However when Mr Georges was contacted by the Herald he did not know when he purchased the marina.
Close up of some of the sandstone at Cabarita, showing old 'dead' bitumen plus a little fresh (?reactivated)
bitumen (blacker). There is not a great deal present on the rocks there, and it presumbly dates from
gasworks years spillages in Kendall Bay. ( Photo: January 2011)
The above tiny amount of bitumen, and small amounts of coke findable along the western side of Cabarita Point is the only contamination easily on view. However, according to a local resident, Mr Peter Ashcroft: "Every time there’s a storm, the amount of coal that is deposited all the way along the bay and Cabarita Park is enormous" ( quoted in http://inner-west-courier.whereilive.com.au/news/story/kendall-bay-marina-plans-secret ). None of this has been mentioned in the EIS for the marina, although the nature of the waterfront is certainly described therein. What happens to the 'enormous' amount of coal is unknown - later washed back into deeper water perhaps.
The Mortlake AGL site largely cleared and stripped. The buildings A (Powerhouse), B (Blacksmiths) and C (Plumbers) - see below - are visible. Also seen still standing is the CWG Building retort house shell which Jane Bennett painted. This view is apparently at/near the end of the rehabilitation, which was a four year job ending in 2002.
The end of the major site remediation was in 2002. In 1998 Thiess Services was contracted to remediate the former AGL Gasworks site at Mortlake. Valued at $47 million, this was the largest gasworks remediation job ever undertaken in Australia. The project involved excavation of more than 1.2 million cubic metres of tar-contaminated soils and bedrock, importation and placement of 600,000 cubic metres of clean soils, thermal desorption of 25,000 tonnes of tar wastes, demolition of numerous gasworks structures, and the off-site disposal of hazardous tar sludges at so far unknown places. The Mortlake remediation included treatment of:
• Tar and tarry sludges present in the large former dam at the site, as wall as in the regular tar pits and pipes.
• Purifier box spent oxide (considered the most problematic component of the gas works "fill").
• Sandstone walls and sandstone bedrock stained with cyanide, tar, hydrocarbons and "acid sulphate conditions".
Viz: http://www.thiess-services.com.au/?PageID=38 ; and http://www.app.com.au%2Faus%2Fpdf%2Findustrial%2FAGL%2520MORTLAKE%2520GASWORKS%2520REHABILITATION.pdf
Site cleared, and first new roadways laid; leaving a few buildings = A, B, C shown below. And "D" is the new "village green". The jetty at Kendall Bay side is prominent, however this was later removed. (It is seen to be present in a 2006 street directory (and also on a plan used re the Dulux site development ) on the other side of Kendall Bay in 2007). The Waterways Authority refused to allow the jetty to be modified to a more useful wharf and Rosecorp removed it entirely ( fide Department of Planning http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/asp/pdf/bp_response_to_councils_submissions.pdf ).
View of the three prominent old buildings from the river - A (Powerhouse), B (Blacksmith's Shop), C (Plumbers Workshop), 2005.
Areas of river sediment requiring cleanup (URS, 2008). At the small sandy beach patch seen SW olf "LAND BRIDGE" minor coke
is still to be seen on the sand - as one of the few likely direct remnants/reminders to be found of the gasworks' long activity nearby.
Comparison of older (1903) and more recent maps show the major infilling around the gasworks site,
including the loss of much of Kendall Bay.
Gasworks dumps in 1943 are here seen encroaching southeastwards over the former low-lying land and head of
Kendal Bay. The southern tip of the dump is seen covering the former Kendall Street and also partly infilling
over the eastern edge of the dam.
As old maps will show, example above, Kendall Bay has been much infilled. As the above 1903 map shows, Kendall Bay once extended further south than where the Emily Street bend in Tennyson Road is. The drainage to it was dammed and later on more fill thrown across it such that the dam grew at its peak size to be some 20 acres, used by the gasworks. Later on that was infilled and the area mounded up to be a rise, which the Country Club now sits on. The gas works also extended the shoreline around all or most of its river frontage. Older photos show that prior to that the shoreline had consisted of low shelves of sandstone outcrop.
ENTER THE AUSTRALIAN GAS LIGHT COMPANY
The coming of AGL to Mortlake was in one sense just a 'relocation across the bay'. For AGL about 1880 already occupied some six acres of "waste land' at Five Dock, where it built a "gas works sub-branch". This was along the Hen and Chicken Bay frontage, opposite Abbotsford School. The Company's relocation to across the other side of the bay was made because of development pressures around Five Dock would preclude that area from its desire to gain a larger operating area.
Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX code: AGK), AGL is an S&P/ASX 50 company and has been operating in Australia for over 170 years.
The Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) was formed in Sydney in 1837. In that year it was given a Royal Charter in 1837 and charged with the responsibility of lighting Sydney's gloomy streets. It turned on the lights on 24 May 1841 to celebrate the birthday of Queen Victoria. The works were in full operation by 1843. The honorary secretary of the company was the Reverend Ralph Mansfield, Methodist missionary who had left England, for Australia, in 1820.
The company's first site was at Darling Harbour, Sydney. It then built "outstations" at Wooloomooloo and Haymarket, followed by additional small works at Balmain and Five Dock, prior to purchasing its eighty acres at Mortlake (early termed its "Mortlake Station"). After moving to Mortlake and purchasing the Parramatta Gas Co., all of the Parramatta, Balmain and Five Dock works were closed down. The Darling Harbour works were continued for supplying the city and inner suburbs but Mortlake was destined to the company's main centre. After the company vacated its Five Dock site, that site for a time after 1886 had water-filled pits remaining there, marking where the gasometers had been removed.
Even the Darling Harbour works were commenced to be demolished at one time. However, they were brought back into production during WWI. At Mortlake during WWI, two new retort houses were built on the site, improving the efficiency of the coal carbonisation process. Also at Mortlake a third gas holderer was built alongside Tennyson Road, which was much larger that the original two that stood there.
Darling Harbour gasworks seen at the end of Hickson Road ca. 1918. Under threat of resumption, AGL finally closed these works in 1921.
The old Darling Harbour gasworks area is being redeveloped as "Barangarroo" (artist's impression)
The company acquired its Mortlake land in stages, initially 43 acres in 1883 and later on rising to 80 acres. It finally achieved there a holding of over 100 acres.
By 1896 the gasworks at Mortlake was employing about 280 men full time, as well as engaging many other tradesmen on specific short term jobs.
By 1925, the company could proudly claim to be the seventh largest gas undertaking in the British Empire. Its Mortlake Works supplied gas consumed over an area of 600 square kilometres and piped gas up to 25 kilometres away. Altogether, it had dug trenches for 6400 kilometres of mains and service pipes.
AGL was the second company to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.
By the outbreak of WW II, the increased demand for gas was met by further expansion.
The production of gas was diversified and by the 1950s petroleum products were used in the gas making process. By the 1960s Mortlake operated four houses of vertical retorts, seven water gas plants, two oil gas plants and one ballast gas plant. The workforce during this period peaked at about 2000.
After it ceased manufacturing gas from coal the company also referred to itself as 'the Natural Gas Company'. Although initially founded to supply gas in New South Wales, and in competition with electricity as energy provider such as for stoves, gas company itself gradually diversified into electricity at a number of different locations. Thus AGL as colloqually the Australian Gas and 'Lectricity company became a major Australian supplier of both gas and electricity.
AGL states that it has grown to become Australia’s leading energy provider.
In recent years AGL has specialised in 'Green' marketing. It became the first Australian energy company to offer 'accredited green energy products', as well as the first Australian company to join the world’s first carbon trading exchange in Chicago. As part of the Chicago Climate Exchange (the CCX), AGL committed to a six percent reduction in emissions. AGL is Australia’s leading renewable energy provider, and the largest private owner, operator and developer of renewable generation assets, including solar, geothermal, biomass, and landfill gas.
Today, AGL provides electricity and gas to over six million residential and business customers. The company operates as an energy supplier in most Australian states, including Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia.
With a disintegration/downsizing of governments in Australia towards the end of the last millenium, privatising of the public assets, AGL immersed itself in the new confusion or welter of arising new entities of supply and generation. A principal name which then emerged was ActewAGL. ActewAGL, an electricity distributor and electricity retailer, was created in 2000 as a joint venturelti-utility service provider, supplying gas, electricity, water and waste water services, as well as full telecommunications services in the ACT and parts of NSW through TransACT. ActewAGL supports renewable energy generation through their a program called ‘Greenchoice’ that which uses sources such as wind power, mini-hydro and biomass. Newly acquired electricity generation assets of AGL also included a major stake in the Loy Yang Power Station and ownership of the Kiewa Hydroelectric Scheme, the Wattle Point Wind Farm, and a peak load gas-powered power station near Hallett in South Australia. or merging of Australian Gas Light Co resources with a newly fabricated government trading entity called Actew Corporation.
In late 2006, AGL merged with Alinta (owned by a consortium including Singapore Power and various Babcock & Brown funds), and then afterwards demerged to create more separated retail and infrastructure companies. The transactions were executed on 25 October 2006 via two schemes of arrangement, resulting in a revised Alinta holding both companies’ combined infrastructure and asset management businesses, and AGL Energy holding AGL’s energy business as well as approximately one third of Alinta’s West Australian retail and cogeneration business (AlintaAGL). ( Alinta Ltd merger with the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) - October 2006 ). It was "Alinta LGA Ltd" (previously The Australian Gas Light Company) which entered into a "voluntary remediation agreement with the Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) (but then DEC) for the remediation of the river at Kendall Bay, Mortlake. In August 2008, Alinta LGA Ltd began trading as Jemena Ltd ( "Jemena – an aboriginal word meaning to hear, to listen and to think – was chosen because it represents how the company does business and its focus on delivering the best services. In order to provide innovative, creative and cost-effective solutions for our clients, we need to hear, listen and think .... Our new tagline – ‘Vital Service. Vital Planet.’ – reflects the vital services we provide to millions of Australians and our role in doing everything we can to minimise our impact on the environment" - http://www.jemena.com.au/media/mediaReleases/2008/source/080408.pdf )
When AGL sought to acquire, as part of a consortium, a 35% share in the Loy Yang A Power Station an informal clearance from the ACCC for the proposed acquisition was denied. The ACCC indicated that, should the acquisition proceed, the ACCC would 'seek appropriate remedies from the Federal Court, including divestment'. This conflict persisted for some time (see http://www.australiancompetitionlaw.org/cases/agl.html ).
In its younger and 'simpler' days, Mortlake was corporate centre for AGL and the Directory of Archives in Australia still (Nov. 2010) records the AGL archives as being at:
- Street address: Mortlake Works, Tennyson Road, Mortlake 2137
- Website: http://www.agl.com.au
- Enquiries to: Historian (02) 660-3107
- Quantity: 150m
- Major holdings: AGL and Associated Companies: Historic photographs c1880-1990s (6,000 indexed); Works plans c1870s-1980s (1500 indexed); Industrial relations files c1900-1980s; News cuttings 1880s-1990s (4m); Corporate files 1950s-1990s; Mains minutes 1880s-1960s (15m); House journals 1920s-1990s; Appliance information 1890s-1970s. (Board Minutes and other records 1836-1921 deposited in State Library of NSW, Mitchell Library.
- In principle AGL Archives includes all records of AGL and associated companies which are no longer required for frequent reference. A database is now available.
( http://directory.archivists.org.au/archives/34/ )
Jemena Ltd is still located locally - Level 1, 100 Bennelong Parkway, Sydney Olympic Park
A brief history of AGL at Morlake is as follows:
It began construction of the Mortlake gas works in 1883, modelled on the Beckton Works of East London and was in full production by 1886.
A second Mortlake gasholder was commissioned in 1889. However, this did not become operational until the 1900s, becaue of the 1890s depression.
Extensive additions to the plant began in 1910, including a Telpher coke plant and modernised coal moving facilites for the site. A third gasholder was added. The third gasholder there was commenced in 1911-13 and commissioned in 1917.
AGL closed its Darling Harbour plant in 1921 and at the same time upgraded the earliest two retort houses at Mortlake.
The Great Depression and the coal strike in 1929-1930 led to some necessary rationing of gas in Sydney. Retort House No. 2 was converted to house four automatic carburetted water gas (CWG) plants that could made gas from coke and oil.
Total modernisation of all operations at Mortlake took place in the late 1930s including the construction of further retort houses.
Towards the end of World War II, and in the immediate postwar period, there was increasing use made of the CWG plants.
By the 1950s, the Mortland gasworks had become was one of the largest gas manufacturing plants in the southern hemisphere.
Automatic Carburetted Water Gas Plant No. 9 completed in 1960 was at that time the largest such plant in the world.
A shift in technology was soon to follow with the discovery of natural gas in Australia in 1964 (compare with the switch to natural gas in the UK in 1965).
Mortlake was converted to be the receiving end of a natural gas pipeline from South Australia, and gas-making operations onsite declined.
AGL made application to Concord Council in 1983 to rezone their Mortlake site for residential land, with a neighbourhood shopping centre at the wharf (Kendall Bay wharf).
All gas making at Mortlake gradually declined and the plant was closed in 1990. The staff at Mortlake were not completely aware that the place would close and be disposed of before 1990 when closure was officially announced and a closure ceremony held during that year.
The site was sold to Rosecorp pty Ltd in 1998 and remediation and redevelopment planning commenced. One of the now-legends of Breakfast Point is that the attractive "Village Green" is there because the ground below is too toxic to build on and was capped with cement then overfilled with more good soil for making the oval of the Village Green. This tale has been passed on to the Department of Planning from the Council who received it, but neither of those bodies is known to have ever commented on it being true or untrue.
MORTLAKE GAS WORKS PRODUCTS
The main products were coal gas, carburetted water gas, coke and breeze, suphate of ammonia, tar and tar products.
Tar was a major product and there was a 500,000 gallon tar storage tank.
Most of the tar came from coal carbonisation (21 gals/ton coal) and a little additonal was yielded from the CWG plant (1 gal/ton coal).
Some of the tar was used as fuel (the Powerhouse boilers consumed crude tar and coke breeze as well as coal) or feedstock within the plant but most went out via sales. It was sold in barrels or by other means, especially as road surfacing. The Main Roads Board and municipal councils were major cutomers for road tar. Road making tar was first marketted from Mortlake in 1918. Both tar and pitch were sold in barrels. Pitch is considered more solid (a viscoelastic polymer which can be shattered with a hard impact but is actually a fluid which will flow over time but extremely slowly) while tar is more liquid.
Reworking lustrous massive pitch that had been poured to air dry at the Gasworks in East Greenwich, London, 1929.
Loading tar barrels at the same Gasworks, 1929.
The tar plant was also fitted with T.I.C. Oil Distillation facilities. Crude oil production from the works was as much as 974,000 gallons a year. Refined fractions from the oil were naptha, toluol and benzol. This enabled petrol mixture sales of up to 17,000 gallons per year. The gas works were also able to produce heavier lubricating oils, and grease.
Tar fuel products were also sold to Manly Ferries Ltd. Tar products besides road tar included various bitumen paints and roof treatment mixtures.
What about un-saleable waste? How much of that was generated at Mortlake works and where did it go to? Hatheway believes that nearly every former manufactured gas plant (FMGP) in Australia will be found to have dumped offsite. He thinks that Mortlake dumped at Homebush Bay, at the later Olympic Games land:
In "Geological-remedial observations on the former manufactured gas plants and other coal-tar sites of Australia".
( Geologically Active – Williams et al. (eds) © 2010 Taylor & Francis Group, London, ISBN 978-0-415-60034-7 )
GAS HERITAGE ELSEWHERE - the case of Ayrshire
It might be noted that both the collier wrecks in Homebush Bay, the Ayrfield and Mortlake Bank, are likely associated remotely with Ayr in Scotland. Andrew McIlwraith, connected with the Mortlake Bank, came from the port of Ayr, Scotland. Why the other vessel was named Ayrfield is not yet known.
As noted above, the town of Maybole in Ayrshire has preserved its early (1834) gasworks ( www.maybole.org/
Also in Ayrshire, one stately home, Culzean Castle which is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland, has completely restored the original small gas making plant that served the estate, as shown here:
Retort house and reconstruction/model of the retorts, at Culzean Castle, Ayreshire
( http://www.hevac-heritage.org/items_of_interest/gas_making/gas_making.htm )
The gas making plant show above was still in use up until the 1940's. Then the Castle was connected to the local electricity supply network and the gas supply was no longer used. The two restored buildings were turned into a small exhibition centre to educate and show people how gas production worked. The Gas Managers House has been converted into a Museum which through a series of information boards tells the story about the life and achievements of William Murdoch 1754 -1839 who is generally regarded as the "Father of Gas Lighting".
William Murdoch was born on 21 August 1754 at the mining and steel-making town of Cumnock in East Ayrshire. The 'invention' of gas lighting is attributed to him in the early 1790s, although Archibald Cochrane, ninth Earl of Dundonald, had already began using gas for lighting his family estate in 1789.
Coal gas had begun coming of note in the early 1700s. In the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1733, some properties of coal gas were detailed in a paper called, "An Account of the Damp Air in a Coal-pit of Sir James Lowther, sunk within Twenty Yards of the Sea." This paper reported the strong flammability and other properties of coal gas. Lowther began work in 1729 on the Saltom Pit near Whitehaven, the first undersea mine in England, and, at 456 feet (139 m) deep by 1731, the deepest undersea mine anywhere at the time. A large pocket of firedamp encountered in digging Saltom Pit was in part drawn off by a pipe to the surface, where the gas could be collected. Lowther showed that it could be stored for some period of time and retain its inflammable properties, describing the nature of the gas in the Royal Society 1733 article. As a result, he was chosen a Fellow of the Royal Society on 25 November 1736. Lowther also supported further research by Spedding and William Brownrigg, a doctor, into the scientific properties and medical effects of methane, paying half the costs for construction of a laboratory (and lighting it with gas piped from a nearby pit). Around the same time a Dr. John Clayton, in a letter in the "Philosophical Transactions" for 1735, called gas the "spirit" of coal; and also discovered its flammability by accident. This "spirit" happened to catch fire, by coming in contact with a candle, as it escaped from a fracture in one of his distillatory vessels. By preserving the gas in bladders, he entertained his friends, by exhibiting its flammability. Experiments with distilling coal had been first described by John Clayton in 1684.
Early gas works were built for lighting individual buildings, rather than for general supply. While tin mining in Cornwall, William Murdoch began experimenting with various types of gas for lighting, finally settling on coal gas as the most effective. He first lit his own house in Redruth, Cornwall in 1792 and by 1798 had introduced gas lighting at the Soho Foundry. In 1802 he lit the exterior of the foundry as a public display of gas lighting, the lights astonishing the local population. One of the employees at the Soho Foundry, Samuel Clegg, saw the potential of this new form of lighting. Clegg left his job to set up his own gas lighting business, the Gas Lighting and Coke Company. In 1806, Murdoch presented to the Royal Society a paper entitled "Account of the Application of Gas from Coal to Economical Purposes" wherein he described his successful application of coal gas to lighting the extensive establishment of Messrs. Phillips and Lea. For this paper he was awarded the Count Rumford gold medal. The idea of commercial production also came from a German, Frederick Albrecht Winzer. The first public street lighting with gas was demonstrated in Pall Mall, London on January 28, 1807. In 1812, Parliament granted a charter to the London and Westminster Gas Light and Coke Company, and the first gas company in the world came into being.
Originally, retorts were made of cast iron, but this was superseded by moulded fireclay and finally by silica brick.
In larger gas works the extraction of by-products soon became economic, for example ammonia sulphate was used as an agricultural fertilizer and benzole was useful as a petrol substitute.
The number of gas works in Scotland grew, reaching a peak in the 1840's.
The 1839 Biggar Gas Works has been preserved and is maintained by the National Museums of Scotland. The Biggar Gasworks Museum is housed in the last existing gasworks in Scotland where coal was used to make town gas before the introduction of natural gas in the UK.
HISTORY / HERITAGE ASPECTS AT BREAKFAST POINT
The earliest significant talk of whole site heritage so far located in the newspaper records is in the Glebe and Inner Western Weekly of 24 February 1999. This was the year apparently that the AGL put it's Breakfast Point redevelopment masterplanning to Council if a fully-cooked version, although Council must have already long known that this was coming(?).
There it is reported in the news article about a certain "win" for the then Mayor, Cr Peter Woods, and the Council, and the people, during (undetailed) negotiations with AGL.
Unfortunately the article is not written in an entirely clear manner, but it refers to a "win" for its (Councils?) "resolve to retain" heritage on the area, specifically mentioning the "exhauster/museum house", the Caburetted Water Gas (CWG) building, and the single-storey part of the Plumbers-fitters-etc. string of workshops - which AGL had been then moving to demolish (and apparently, as the article hints, threatening legal action against Council if the Council hindered it).
Why the article is a somewhat strange one is because it is written up as a "win" for Council in these matters, yet we know that the CWG building and the single-storey section of the "Plumbers Workshop" did in fact all get demolished, just as AGL planned to do.
So what in fact was the Council "win" in the matter at that time? More about this no doubt is preserved somewhere in Council records and will clarify matters when relocated.
The article quoted AGL's Mr Dennis Kaye, stating that "we will reuse what we can". This was apparently in reference to the idea that if CGW or other heritage worthy buildings were demolished any "clean materials" would be stored, so as to be useful in 'authentic' repair of other heritage buildings, or in constructing any smaller memorial edifices. It is not known to what extent this retention of "clean" demolition materials was indeed later practiced, or where they went to for storage. However, later air photos do so some stacks of ?demolition materials remaining at length on site, and this may be evidence that the practice was pursued.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the 24 February 1999 report is its mention of the "exhauster/museum house". The above few paragraphs were transcribed after seen this 1999 article in January 2011, and prior to that it had been learned that AGL itself had started an on-site museum, and indeed had held an official opening for such and had constructed a brass plaque to go on it, etc. That article about the museum opening (in AGL house journal) did not, however, state which building the new museum was in. The 1999 newspaper mention of the "exhauster/museum house" strongly suggests that AGL had put its museum in the old "Exhauster" house. This has since been demolished. This (demolition of the Exhauster house) must therefore have given rise to discussions and thoughts of 'where will the museum go?' and it may have been at that time when the Power House (nearby) was first considered as a good place for the collection. Where the then contents of the AGL museum was at that time moved to for storage is not yet known.
A Breakfast Point Museum ? ( ... has been proposed, but will it ever happen ? )
In the approved Breakfast Point Masterplan of 2002 it is stated (page 22):
"Breakfast Point Museum - An interpretative display illustrating the historical rolews of Breakfast Point, its locality and peoples, is to be provided on site. The facility should include indoor and outdoor exhibits. The Power House on Breakfast Point is to be included in the assessment of alternative sites."
In the District News, 17 September 2002, it was reported that the restoration of heritage buildings at Breakfast Point would include a local museum.
In the City of Canada Bay Council's Breakfast Point Development Control Plan 2005, the plan of Breakfast Point entitled "Existing Condition - Built and Approved" (Fig. 3a) the actual point, where the Powerhouse stands, is labelled as "Heritage Park". This plan was prepared by Dickson Rothschild Pty Ltd. The heritage park ran from the western and southern alignments of the Powerhouse to water's edge in two directions, defining an equant small area with the Powerhouse in its SW corner. Elsewhere in the document it is shown on another plan labelled as being for "Public Community Facilities".
The 2005 DCP also required that adequate curtilage be left betweeen heritage items and adjacent new development. This was set as setback equal in distance to the eaves height of the heritage item, or 10m, whichever is greater. Such allowance was stipulated in order to maximise the opportunities for adaptive re-use of heritage items.
In the Council papers of 18 April 2006, which give a Council perspective of the Rosecorp-Council conflicts to that time, and how a new concept plan put to the Planning Minister had resulted in an increased maximum allowable dwellings from the 2002 Masterplan figure of 1,865 to a new maximum of 2073, the resume of events ended on what was called a bright note. Council at that time noted that the sole bright point at that time was that they (Council) had succeeded ("subject to further negotiations") in getting agreement for the transfer of 240 square metres of the Powerhouse and land surrounding it to public ownership so that the community "receives some benefit from what would otherwise be a poor outcome".
Another 2006 indication, from Rosecorp, shows that not all of that Powerhouse building was then being planned to be donated for a museum: "The Concept Plan proposes dedicating a significant portion of the Powerhouse building to Council to be used as a museum". Elsewhere in the same document it was stated that "half" of the building would be dedicated to a public authority.
On the poor chances, generally speaking, of old gasworks structures surviving
As quoted elsewhere in this webpage, Dr Allen W. Hatheway, an expert on old gasworks sites, has said: "it is a rare instance indeed, when any former gasworks structure is allowed to remain standing. And that is deplorable, in my mind." This quote may seem a ambiguous, but from the totality of Allen's writings we can assume that he does not mean... deplorable that any were allowed to remain standing. Others may differ, and like to see all traces removed(?).
One interesting case of "gasworks survival", or part-survival, to beome a museum is the Dunedin gasworks in New Zealand - http://www.gasworksmuseum.org.nz
There is little left of any of New Zealand's gasworks, and so the Dunedin gasworks museum is a valuable reminder of an industry that was once vital to the country, but has now almost vanished without trace.
Dunedin gasworks - The Dunedin Gas Light and Coke Company (Limited) was formed in May 1862.
Gas was first ignited at the Dunedin works in May 1863. In 1962 a Woodall-Duckham Vertical Retort House replacement was built and the old horizontal retorts removed. By the mid-1980s the coal plant was nearing the end of its life, and the cost of a refit could not be justified given the declining use of gas in Dunedin. In July 1986 the DCC Trading Committee voted unanimously to convert entirely to the reforming of LPG through the MS Reformer for town gas supply. The Retort House was finally closed down in June 1987. Dunedin was both the first and the last place in New Zealand where coal gas was manufactured, and with the demolition of the Vertical Retort House in 1989 the last coal carbonisation plant in the country disappeared.
The current Dunedin Gasworks Museum is just a small part of the original gasworks (most having been demolished after the retort house closed in 1987). Nonethless it is a significant set of buildings and plant that still remain there. Due to the hard work and tenacity of several people who saw the potential for an industrial heritage museum, the steam powered pumping machinery and associated nearby buildings etc were saved.
Today this machinery is kept in working order by a team of volunteers and further museum redevelopments continue.
Following the stabilisation and restoration of the fitting shop this will be will be used as the visitor, reception, information and education centre.
See some gallery photos: www.gasworksmuseum.org.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=56&Itemid=59
Dunedin museum site plan and plan of the whole original gasworks - the bottom right corner has survived as the museum
What would be left of the Mortlake gas works - and who cared ?
Enquiry was made to all the local Council councillors on this but none seemed to know anything or be intersted in the matter - some said words to the effect of 'it was before my time'. Somebody must have cared and there is evidence of some care within the gas company itself, and that it did establilsh a small museum itself on the site whilst it still owned it (very little is yet known about this aspect and it was one reason what special effort to find Rosemary Broomham was were made).
View of works from Kendall Bay coal wharf at time of strong plant activity, 1962. (City of Canada Bay Local Studies)
Unloading the Hexham Bank, 1970. (City of Canada Bay Local Studies)
Similar area later on, showing gas works structures, and the Kendall Bay coal wharf still standing in 1991. A major change had been that AGL
grew a screen of trees all around the waterfront. All those trees were later removed. (City of Canada Bay Local Studies)
Older (No.2) and youngest retort houses, as seen in 1991. (City of Canada Bay Local Studies)
At Mortlake gasworks what has survived is not a compact portion as with Dunedin, nor has machinery been preserved in such a manner. Moreover, Mortlake even though the Powerhouse has long been suggests as a potential museum building seems to have not had arise any interested group anything like Dunedin's hard working and tenacious "people who saw the potential for an industrial heritage museum". Records are still being perused to try and determine who were interested in Mortlake's museum potential. If nobody has been interested, or is still interested, then the fate of the Powerhouse as the conceptual 'museum' of the site must be in doubt.
Rosecorp initially made an earlier statement which values the old buildings, thus:
Mr Bob Rose's committment to adaptive reuse. In a speech of February 2002.
This was in the Concept Plan, but without statement as to repository (presumably a copy would go to State Heritage and one to Council at minimum).
That the Engineers Australia heritage committee has been at least cognisant of Mortlake Gas Works is shown above - http://www.engheritage-sydney.org.au/heritage_indherit.htm
Through its Heritage Committees, the Institution of Engineers Australia aims to promote and encourage the conservation of engineered items and industrial works. The Sydney Division Heritage Committee encourages the understanding of Engineering and Industrial Heritage in the Sydney and New South Wales region. This committee advises, promotes and assists in conservation and recognition both of engineered works and documents in order to record the significant achievements and social history that engineering has achieved in this country. What the awareness of Mortlake Gas Works has been by this or any other heritage group is not yet known.
Canada Bay LEP 2008 ( http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/nsw/consol_reg/cblep2008269/sch5.html ) lists as "Breakfast Point" heritage 5 items - Former AGL Power House, 97-99 Peninsula Drive (Lot 47, DP 270347); Former AGL Blacksmiths’ Shop, 123 Peninsula Drive (Lot 46, DP 270347); Former AGL Office No 1 (Former AGL Office No 1); Former AGL Main Meter Readers’ Office, 19-21 Tennyson Road (Lot 64, DP 270347); and Former AGL Fence to Tennyson Road, entrance gates and entry pavilion
The Power House - a suggested museum
Although various suggestions of re-use for the Powerhouse, for part-museum and part-commercial use, can be found by 2010 the building was built-in as shown above.This would make any sort of adequate public visitor useage, with parking, quite difficult. What the Department of Planning was doing whilst this was going on is not yet known as the records of that department are very difficult to negotiate ---- Thus things look grim for the possible public usage of the building, unless some of the still unused land on the opposite side of the street could be used for public parking(?). It is understood that Council at different times did stress the matter of adequate curtelage provision for all heritage items.
The Power House of Powerhouse building, as it is known, sits right at Breakfast Point itself and has long been suggested as site for a possible museum. However the suggestion seems to have originated only with locals (or maybe AGL employees?) and as late as 2011 no trace of anyone in the 'world of heritage' (heritage professionals or industrial heritage specialists) being interested in that idea could be found. Without any apparent source of support the idea seemed to go nowhere and no assessment of the museum idea is known of. Is there any percieved "need" for such a museum? If not solely for the gasworks site, is there any need for an industrial heritage museum or display space for larger 'catchment' area - such as to treat all industries as have formerly operated along the River? Once again, no evaluation of that idea is known of. And even if there was such an idea, what alternative sites might be in 'competion' to Breakfast Point for such a purpose? Also, would residents of Breakfast Point object to strangers or their cars coming and clogging up the streets of Breakfast Point for the pupose of memorialising "other" past industrial operations along the river (as many object to the idea of a large commercial marina, with a planned catchment to service the entire "Inner West", bringing in people from outside Breakfast Point). As regards other possible competing sites for industrial memorialisation, the State Government still had the abandonned White Bay Power Station sitting empty with no decided-upon future usage plan as late at 2011, and perhaps there are other suitable sites for an industrial museum as well(?).
Two sides of old gasworks building "A", the Powehouse, close to the river (as shown in aerial view above).
Painting of the Powerhouse by Jane Bennett - AGL34 Reflections of heritage Building 2003 oil on canvas 46 x 61cm PRIVATE COLLECTION-SYDNEY
The Powerhouse viewed in mid 2006 (Photos: Pamela Hubert, City of Canada Bay Council )
March 2011, with the adjoining home gardens coming along nicely.
Powerhouse upper right, Blacksmiths Shop lower left, 2010.
Curtilege less than 5m at one corner.
The Powerhouse was built in 1911-1915. Part of its later functioning, post 1938, was not to generate power but to convert Sydney County Council AC power to DC for use at the works. The plant's own DC power generation ceased in 1962 after two more AC/DC rectifiers were installed. The building may have ceased electricity-related service after 1968, and was subsequently used as a store.
The Powerhouse is noteworthy for its connection with the engineer E.G. Stone who is known for his work with reinforced concrete. It is one of only two surviving examples of buildings in Australia utilising reinforced concrete roof trusses. It was built as part of the 1911-1918 improvements at the gasworks, in order to ensuren a reliable electricity supply. It was designed and constructed by the Stone and Siddeley company, with the Telfer system designed by Adolf Bleicher & Co. A feature of the building is the reinforced concrete trusses and purlins designed by E.G. Stone. Professor Emery
During the 1970s the National Trust recorded the machinery then present within the Powerhouse (all since removed?), and other 'relics' in the building were noted and recommended for preservation by Godden and Associates (1989), including a 'marble switchboard'. Godden and Associates (1989) suggested six possible adaptive re-uses for the building - restaurant, etc. They did not include museum in the list but others had earlier suggested that either it or the Blacksmith's Workshop could be possilby good as a museum or historical display venue. As road layout from very early on focussed on the Blacksmith's Shop it likely would not have been seriously considered as a museum, shifting any such continued thinking to the Powerhouse(?).
The developers initial preference for re-use of the Powerhouset after restoration may have been as a restaurant, but no particular reuse was committed to in the 2002 Masterplan. In the later Concept Plan it was offered to give more private space to being public space by giving part of the Powerhouse to be a museum. The Concept Plan stated "Adaptive use feasibility assessment is to include consideration of its use as a Breakfast Point Museum and/or commercial and retail uses".
The following is noted on Page 1 of the Minutes of the Council Meeting of City of Canada Bay Council held on 20th September 2005 - which is thus far the earliest Council document located which discusses the Powerhouse as a potential museum:
MA-1 POWERHOUSE BUILDING - BREAKFAST POINT
M- 988 RESOLVED
THAT in relation to DA 109/2005 at Breakfast Point, if the developer ceases their legal action against the City of Canada Bay and transfers the 'powerhouse' building to the City of Canada Bay Council, in accordance with the Development Consent, the building:
•house the history of the contribution of the former gas workers;
•house the history of Breakfast Point, both aboriginal and European;
•house the Concord Heritage Society;
•provide a public meeting room facility; and
•subject to space permitting, provide a small café.
Earlier on in the Concept Plan for Breakfast Point half of the Powerhouse had been mooted as a gift to the community: It would be dedicated to a 'public authority' and Canada Bay Council was of course the first logical first choice to offer it to.
http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/asp/pdf/bp_response_to_councils_submissions.pdf (Document dated 24/03/2006)
Within response to the Concept Plan - http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au/files/8956/Breakfast%20Point%20Concept%20Response%20to%20Community%20Submissions.pdf
The City of Canada Bay Council Council Meeting Agenda of 17 March 2009, Page 50, reported (Author Initials: GS):
Since late 2006 and through 2007 and 2008, Council officers have been negotiating with RoseCorp regarding the restoration of the Power House and its curtilage with a view to having the building dedicated for public use upon completion of all works.
Major issues that have been encountered include;
• Cost to restore the Power House Building $4-5 million
• Ongoing maintenance costs $80,000 per year
• Future use of the building when restored
...... Council Asset Engineer estimates total lifecycle costing for the building over its expected 25 year life to be $80,000 per annum.
...... Given that the retention of the Power House Building on a long term cost benefit analysis would be difficult to sustain, discussions with Rosecorp were undertaken to look at viable alternatives for the use of the site. The location of the site is considered prime residential, given it is bounded by residential homes that have recently sold in the vicinity of $4 million. Rosecorp has proposed as an alternative that consideration be given to the demolition of the Power House Building, remediation of the site and the erection of 6x2 storey dwellings in that area.
...... The community benefit that was originally proposed to be provided by the use of the Power House Building would then revert to an agreed settlement, most likely a cash amount to Council to be used for public purposes.
...... In late October I met with representatives from the Department of Planning and Rosecorp in the Departments offices to discuss the matter. The Department were prepared to reconsider the condition subject to a further heritage assessment/review, taking into account the structural report from HughesTrueman, and the assessment of costs to restore the building by WT Consultants, and written confirmation from council that Council is prepared to accept a monetary sum as a public benefit in lieu of the dedication Power House Building, in effect agreeing to its demolition.
...... Councillors undertook a site visit to the Power House Building on 28 February 2009. The external and internal inspection of the Power House Building provided Councillors with the opportunity to view the key structural elements that have been identified for their significant heritage value and also view the deteriorated state of the building.
Page 53, City of Canada Bay Council Meeting Agenda 17 March 2009 - http://www.canadabay.nsw.gov.au/verve/_resources/090710Agenda.pdf
...... The condition of the Power House Building could be best described as deteriorated, largely through a lack of maintenance over a great many years.
...... The demolition of the Power House Building, given the current condition of the structure and the cost to restore and maintain it into the future with limited opportunity for a viable commercial use requires Council to seriously consider supporting the proposal.
But why would the Council estimate the expected life of such a valued/costly building to be only 25 years? It is also curious that this says Council negotiations with RoseCorp on the 'Powerhouse museum' proposal had been going on since "late 2006" when Council's own records show consideration of the matter from 2005 (and further search, I suspect, is likely to show even earlier Council deliberations etc.).
The Blacksmith's Shop
Blacksmith's Shop before restoration, 2008. (City of Canada Bay, Local Studies)
Blacksmith's Shop after restoration; 123 Peninsula Drive.
Northern (River) side of the Blacksmith's shop, March 2011.
The 'Blacksmith's Shop' was the first general workshop for the gas works and was erected in ?1891 (although a photo in Golden Mackay and Broomham, 1990, has it as 1886).
The Blacksmith's shop building with it characteristic twin wings can be seen in this ca. 1910 view. (Photo: M.A. Broadhurst; Mitchell Library).
At this time it can be seen that coal was lifted to high wharf at the point (Breakfast Point) and railed towards the retort house at right (later replaced by conveyor belts). Later on a new unloading wharf was built a little further south on the Kendall Bay frontage, and the later more modern retort houses were built further south.
Tesoriero (1986) described operations as seen above. The wharf had on it steam cranes of the latest design. Raised railway tracks ran from the jetty into the upper storey of the coal stores. Small locomotives hauled the coal to high bins to supply fuel for the charging of the retorts. Looping around to return at ground level, the railway then collected the coke produced by carbonisation. To make gas, the coal was loaded into the retorts, sealed from the air and heated to 1100 degrees centigrade. Gas was taken off all through the five or six hours required to yield the maximum amount. The retorts had to be cleaned of built up tar every time the door was opened. Gas was stored in tanks after it was cooled, cleaned and purified. Mortlake's first gasometer was the largest in the southern hemisphere rising to a height of 110 feet (33.5m) when filled and could hold 2,750,000 cubic feet (78,066 cubic metres) of gas. The gas was kept in the tank by a water seal surrounding the tank base that was excavated into the sandstone.
Who speaks for the Plumbers' store building?
View at one of the estate entrances off Tennyson Road, showing an old building just right of centre (the Plumbers' Workshop or Store building).
In the above photo imagine another tall block of apartments, as seen at right (or slightly smaller), over the site of the old two storey building. That's apparently what Breakfast Point resident Mr G. J. Carmichael feared. On 24 January 2006 he wrote (email) to Mayor Tsirekas saying he was a resident of Breakfast Point and a Masters-qualified planner himself. He was concerned at the "proposed loss" of this building (and also the blocking of certain vistas, as from the Market square north over the river, if it were replaced by a higher rise structure). He stated "Somehow this building is not covered by a heritage order. Given a 5 storey building is proposed in its place retention now looks very unlikely". It is not known if the Mayor replied to him. Mr Carmichael further wrote: "The heritage upon this site is a critical asset for future generations. Once you lose it you can't get it back. It would be a tragedy to see it turned over to another development site as is proposed". He urged Council to "Lobby the Department of Planning for this building's retention". Did Council ever do that? This is not yet known; however Council did include Mr Carmichael's email in its 254 pp. submission to the Minister for Planning re the Breakfast Point Concept Plan which Rosecorp sent to the Minister for approval. Mr Carmichael's letter is found therein within appendix 3 "Public Submissions". Mr Carmichael is to date the first and only local person found of the 'new settlers' who has urged specific heritage retention, or indeed has expressed any opinion at all on the old buildings that still remain in amongst the new. In commenting on the Concept Plan, the residents coordination group had stated that they had "no comment" on the area of heritage conservation other than that they would support the retention of the "Fitters Machinists, Carpenters Workshops in the Seashore Precinct" (but by such odd wording, of uncertain meaning, this would appear to perhaps reflect poor knowledge of the heritage buildings in their midst - however the wording used is similar to one of the synynoms of the "Plumbers Workshop", which is also referred to as the "Carpenters/Fitters Machinists Workshops").
Greg Carmichael's 2006 suggested amendments for the Concept Plan prior to its approval. Re the Plumbers
Workshop there had been a diagram on Page 18 of the Concept Plan which showed a 5 storey building
at this spot, which readers thought surely indicated an intention to demolish the old building.
"Long, wide bitumen roads display identical pastel houses and apartment blocks on both sides. It's eerily quiet and you half expect one of the
Stepford wives to walk out of a house at any moment" - http://www.smh.com.au/news/property/court-in-the-act/2006/10/13/1160246294975.htm
Building "C" in Google Earth 'Street view", former workshops or known as "Plumbers' Workshop". The light coloured
scar on the end of the building is the result of part demolition as seen by comparison with the below image.
Building known as "Plumbers workshop" Retention of the building was confirmed in 2010 (Perica & Associates, 2010).
It's likely adaptive reuse will be as communal facilities for the Seniors. It is apparent that the once flat (fornerly
excavated) land in front of the building has again beeen filled in. The painting is by Jane Bennett (2001).
Plumbers Workshop, 2010.
The rear or western side of the Plumbers building in 2005, showing how it was built against former quarried face when the area was
first excavated to provide a flat surface for the gas works. The Powerhouse seen at left is is clearly on a lower level.
(Photo: City of Canada Bay, Local Studies)
There were formerly fitter, machinist, carpenters and plumbers workshops. The complex had storeys at its southern
end and a long single storey section to the north - .the scar of which is seen in the above photo post its demolition. Where workshops were built as part of an extensive building program that commenced in 1913. Furnished with a range of machine tools, the workshops were described as being well-equipped for all trades. By 1955 workshops on the site accommodated 750 trades people.
The original AGL planning for Breakfast Point did not envisage preserving the Plumbers-etc Workshops (or certainly not all of it, as the single-storied part in particular was over land intended for 'remediation').
However the two-storied part of The "Plumbers Workshop" building has survived till now (2011) and in 2010 it became known that it will be adaptively reused to include the following facilities (Perica & Associates, 2010):
•Ancillary care aspects in accordance with the definition applicable to serviced self care housing (nursing, personal care, cleaning);
View in 2006, along with the Blacksmith's Shop. (Photo: Pamela Hubert)
Response re Item 1.10.7 in the Concept plan. The Concept Plan indicated re-use of the Plumbers' workshop "if feasible",
but also stated "Retention of this item may not be feasible".
LEP 91 did not state that the Plumbers' workshop should be adaptively reused - rather it only 'encouraged' adaptive reuse across Breakfast Point.
"Final stage?" - Breakfast Point Concept Plan 2005 MOD 1_Public Submissions.pdf
In 2010 the plan to build a seniors precinct (incorporating the Plumbers workshop building) was warmly received by some - such as in submission above by a resident who loves Breakfast Point and does not wish to move away when too old to fully look after herself. The idea of on-site care for residents as they age is appealing to some. This could be ultimate care for 'new settlers' - whether or not this feature occurs in "New Suburbia" thinking elsewhere have not yet been found out about. There was also some objection, based on the perception of part of the Breakfast Point project transforming into an "a retirement village or aged care facility". The State Government approved the application, so a seniors precinct will be proceeding. In the meantime a family of foxes has been living there for about four year, and in 2011 the happy event of two newborn cubs was noted by people in the nearby giant appartments block.
The building now known as the Blacksmith’s Shop was erected as a general workshop in late 1891. It was renovated in 1922 and remains largely intact.
Building "C", Plumbers Building, in Google Earth
The No. 1 Retort House in about 1910. (Photo: M.A. Broadhurst; Mitchell Library). The smaller rectangular building in front of the long
retort house (with ladder attached) is its Exhaust House, containing the pumps for moving the gas generated from the retort house.
A retort house (but identity is to be checked) in the logo of The Institution of Engineers Australia
- Sydney Division - Engineering Heritage Committee
"Industrial cathedral, Mortlake" ( Ruin of the CWG retort building)
Painting by Jane Bennett (currently artist in residence at Barangaroo, 2010). "I paint the damaged, derelict, doomed and disappeared. Since the early 1980's I have specialised in painting industrial and maritime heritage of Sydney. Almost everything that I have painted has either been demolished or changed beyond all recognition. My paintings show the cycle of abandonment, decay, destruction and renewal ... The mood has changed forever, and only my works remain as testament to the passing of an era."
( http://janebennettartist.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html )
Gregory Blaxell in "History of Australian Gas Light Company - Part 3" (Inner-West Weekly, 4 May, 2006, p.19) noted that "a section of the original retort" remained and was yet to be reburbished but would become an intergral part of the Breakfast Point complex.
So far the only ready confirmation of what Blaxell wrote is seen in the above work of artist Jane Bennett. These images show a decided effort being made to preserve this heritage. What "dread and mechanoly" let the building decay to this sad propped-up condition? The images strongly prompt that there must surely be a story behind that?
Jane's notes of the time are a little overly dramatic - "As the coal tar waste was removed from the site, 30 metre chasms were dug into the glowing sandstone escarpment surrounding the C.W.G. Building." Sandstone was excavated, but to nothing like 30m.
"Soon it will be impossible for the current residents of the recently christened suburb of Breakfast Point to imagine this chapter of Australian history. The ‘lost’ civilization of the Industrial age is only a paltry century or so ago, instead of a couple of millennia, yet the history and purposes of its buildings are already almost incomprehensible to most of the new inhabitants."
After the works closed, weeds began to grow but the valuable land was never totally forgotten.
By 1890, Mortlake had become the largest and most densely populated area in the Concord municipality, and here is how one commentator saw Mortlake at that time (viz. Sheena Coupe, 1983 from Shaw, 1933):
Around these works a township has grown up within the past four years. There are Mr Sturt's hotel, several large stores, an eating-house with the sign 'all meals 6d' in large letters; the Concord Working Men's Club, an Anglican and a Congregational church, a large number of working men's cottages, and other evidences of progress and civilization. There are the village of Concord, the village of Longbottom, the village of Beaconsfield, and several other smaller clusters of houses in various parts of the municipality, but by far the largest is that of Mortlake. The remainder of the municipality consists of large paddocks, fine residences with gardens and extensive grounds and waste land (sic), much of which is covered with a healthy growth of eucalyptus, wattles and other trees. Round Hen and Chicken Bay, at the head of Major's Bay, and along the course of Powell's Creek, there are extensive flats covered with mangrove, In 1884, the Australian Gas Light Company and more or less swampy, but the greater part of the district is high ground, with rich soil, and many beautiful and picturesque drives. Soon after the gasworks were opened, the municipal council made an arrangement whereby the Gas Company supplied tarred metal and the council formed and made a roadway from the works to the Parramatta Road. Since then, other roads have been made by the council in a similar way, and these are the best and cleanest roads to be found in the metropolitan districts, except those roads which are wood paved. The asphalting is, however, only laid down in the centre, and the sides are still in the most primitive condition. The council has also laid down strips of asphalting about 2 ft [0.6 m] wide along the footpaths, so that pedestrians may go from one end of the extensive municipality to the other without dirtying their boots
In 1874, Mortlake was connected by horse-drawn bus with the main trunk railway at Burwood. Later on (1910) the trams were converted to steam driven.
The tram line linked up at Burwood with the trams from Ashfield, and made a direct trip from Ashfield to Mortlake possible. The same line was extended to Cabarita in 1907 and the trams were electrified in 1912. Trams continued in the area till 1948 - and the current writer (then aged about 4) can but barely remember them. For some time afterwards, trolley buses utilised some of the old tram network but possibly not to Mortlake(?).
During the 1880s, probably coinciding with the building of the gasworks, Parramatta River ferries began servicing a wharf at Mortlake. There was an early "steamer wharf" (1884) at the end of "Burwood Road" (now named Tennyson Road). That is the present site of the River Quays facility, but the original Parramatta River ferries stopped running in 1928.
Still running at Mortlake is the Mortlake ferry (also known as the Putney punt).
This vehicular cable ferry, which crosses between Hilly Street, Mortlake, and Pellisier Road in Putney, is the last remaining vehicular ferry operating in "Sydney". Another vehicular ferry stil not far from built-up greater Sydney at Berowra Waters on Berowra Creek (north from Hornsby).
Sydney ferries have long been operated by the Main Roads department (DMR, later on renamed RTA - Roads and Traffic Authority). The Mortlake ferry began operations 16 May 1928 when the service was opened by Robert Ball, the Minister for Main Roads. The ferry enabled employees at the gasworks who lived on the northern bank of the river to reach their workplace. The alternative was to make the journey via the Meadowbank punt or be rowed to work.
MARITIME GHOSTS -- WHAT REMAINS OF THE SHIPS THAT BROUGHT THE COAL THAT MADE THE GAS ?
AGL's Mortlake in full operation needed nearly 460,000 tonnes of coal per year. Such was transported mainly from from Hexham on the Hunter River, and the colliers used were the SS Felton Bank, SS Mortlake and the MV Hexham Bank. The Hexham Bank was built in Brisbane in 1953. The last collier brought coal to Mortlake in late 1971.
The last coastal coal carriers ( colliers ) to serve on the 60 nautical miles run between Sydney and Newcastle had disappeared by the late 1980s after natural gas flowed into the pipes of Sydney and Mortlake had ceased making gas from coal.
The colliers to Sydney from Newcastle were initially sail-propelled and this coal carrying marine trade started almost 200 years ago. These ships were collectively called the '60 milers' and since the 1860s, till the early 1950s all were coal fired. It was a dangerous trade and the sea took many of the little coasters and their crewmen over the years. Some of those which survived till the end of the trade were wrecked not far from Mortland, at Homebush Bay.
The Mortlake Bank unloading coal at the Kendall Bay wharf, Mortlake. The last collier delivery to the works was in 1971. At its peak in the 1950s, the Mortlake gas works was consuming about 2000 tons of coal a day. Each of the two transporter cranes seen above could unload 200 tons of coal per hour. This set-up, with 36" conveyor belts, was installed in 1934-35.
Two colliers of very similar construction are seen berthed at the coal delivery wharf in this 1943 airphoto. Note also that there was
another smaller wharf a little north of this main coal wharf. This had been known as the "Coke Jetty".
The Kendall Bay coal wharf position today has this well landscaped walkway down to the shore. (March 2011)
Looking over the edge - All that remains of the coal wharf today would be a few cut-off pile bases.
Kendall Bay wharf viewed from the south, 1991. (City of Canada Bay, Local Studies)
The Kendall Bay coal wharf, viewed from northern side, 1991. (City of Canada Bay, Local Studies)
The colliers Mortlake Bank and Ayrfield, moored at the gasworks before they were scrapped.
The above two vessels were scuttled a little upstream at Homebush Bay, where their disintegrating remains may still be seen.
The Mortlake Bank speeding to Newcastle for more coal and the current site of the two colliers in Homebush Bay,
near the mouth of Haslam's Creek, showing bow of SS Ayrfield overgrown with mangroves. (Photo: David Iori )
20 Feb 2010: (Ayrfield left; Mortlake Bank right) "Nine paddlers - Peter, Kerrie, Tom, Julian, Tessa, Narelle, Ruth, Allan and Grahame - set off from the excellent launching beach at Meadowbank Ferry for the short paddle to Homebush Bay. Conditions were calm and we spent some time exploring the wrecks at leisure. Mangroves grow out of each vessel as it nestles in the mud and there are usually many gulls and cormorants resting on the rusty hulls. This time pelicans were the main birdlife ..." ( Canoe Club - http://sutherlandshire.canoe.org.au )
SS Ayrfield (originally launched as SS Corrimal) was a single screw, steam collier of 1140 tonnes, 79.1m in length. It was built in the UK in 1911 and registered at Sydney in 1912. It was used by the Commonwealth Government to transport supplies to American troops stationed in the Pacific region during WWII. In 1950, it was sold to Bitumen and Oil Refineries Australia Pty Ltd in 1950, and re-sold 1951 to the Miller Steamship Company Ltd and renamed Ayrfield. It operated as a collier between Newcastle and Miller’s terminal in Blackwattle Bay. The registration of Ayrfield was cancelled on 6 October 1972 and it was stripped at Homebush Bay prior to breaking-up, but never completely dismantled. The hull is seen near the western delta finger mudbank at the mouth of Haslams Creek, with the bow pointing towards the shore.
(One of the Homebush hulks is thought to represent the remains of this vessel - and the above wreck is guessed to be the Ayrfield, although the Ayrfield and Mortlake Bank are broadly similar.)
The wrecks are at the mouth of Haslems Creek on the northern side of a small delta mudbank that is forested with mangroves. To see them park just north of the creek mouth and follow a creek-side track for a short distance around to the rear of the highrise residential buildings there.
Same view, in December 2010. Note to the left of the wreck, on opposite side of Homebush Bay, the very high piles of earth and sediment. That is connected with the clean-up there, at Rhodes, of former chemical industry land closely related with consumption of Mortlake Gasworks by-products
"Closer" view of those dirt mounds at Rhodes. Sorry no better photo. This is just enlargement (no telephoto lens).
Bayside view looking south to beyond Haslems Creek mouth, showing the narrow vegetated low deltaic mudbank
where the colliers' remains came to lie alongside.
All that remains of the Mortlake Bank
Same view in 1970
SS Mortlake Bank
What remains of the SS Mortlake Bank, the stern section and part of the bow, has been rusting away some 50m NE of the Ayrfield. The bow is lying nearly at right angles to the stern but is sunk below water. The Mortlake Bank was a single screw, steam collier of 1371 tonnes and 71.65m in length. It was built at Wallsend-on-Tyne in the UK in 1924 as the Elfstone for Stelp & Leighton. Triple expansion engine. 9 knots. In 1934 it was bought by McIlwraith, McEacharn Ltd of Melbourne, and renamed. They operated it for many years between Hexham and Mortlake, transporting coal to the gasworks. On 4 October 1972, its registration was cancelled and it was sent to Homebush Bay for breaking-up along with the Ayrfield. It is not known who bought it or was breaking it up (possilby the same party for both vessels).
On 31 May 1942, it was when the Mortlake Bank entered Sydney Harbour and passed though the boom net, that the second of the three Japanese midget submarines (M-24) made its entry into the Harbour, slipping in under the collier's keel. M-24 then fired its torpedoes, avoided sinking from the eschewing bombardment and escaped, only to perish on the seafloor northeast of Long Reef after its batteries ran out.
The following newspaper article in 1946 described the Mortlake Bank unloading at Mortlake:
The Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 9 May 1946, p. 1.
Unloading coal in 1946 at Mortlake works wharf with a simple claw grapple; and showing conveyor belt.
COAL FOR SYDNEY'S GAS SUPPLY
TOP: The collier Mortlake Bank discharging coal at the Mortlake works of the Australian Gas Light Company yesterday. AT RIGHT: A conveyor-belt carrying the coal direct from the ship to the retorts. All but 100 tons of the 1,700 tons unloaded yesterday was used immediately to maintain the city's gas supply.
( http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/29764506 )
Before the advent of more advanced cranes like the above, and conveyor belts, coal was moved to and from ships by basket cranes with much manual loading and unloading. This was the arduous job of the 'coal lumper'. The records of the Sydney Coal Lumpers’ Union no longer exist but a few pertinent fragments or mentions do. Union secretary George Herbert complained in a letter to the Sydney Collier Owners’ Association that it required ‘physical giants’ for the kind of work it wanted done and that ‘there are not ten men out of every hundred in the State that could do sufficient work to satisfy you’. One union member complained that coal lumping conditions on land, at the Mortlake gas works, were the most extreme of all. According to Alfred Hutchinson fewer than 50 men in the Sydney Coal Lumpers’ Union could tolerate the work there. They handled huge tubs holding 2–3 tons of coal. Each tub was swung on a crane and grabbed by the men as it came down and then the men had ‘to run the tub right into the coal’ Hutchinson said. Coal lumping there was ‘not work but slaughter,’ and ‘If you don’t look out you get an arm or a leg broken. You are liable to get smashed up any minute’ ( Source: 'The coal lumpers of Sydney' by Margo Beasley - http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/ojs/index.php/sydney_journal/article/viewFile/726/790
FINDING INFORMATION ON AGL
A major source to peruse for information is the AGL house journal, which has existed under the following variety of names:
1) Service (Sydney, N.S.W.)
Sydney : The Company, -1975. v. : ill. ; 27 cm.
Cover title. - Description based on: New ser. vol. 1, no. 1 (Dec. 1950)
[Jan. 1935-Apr. 1940]; New ser. vol. 1, no. 1 (Dec. 1950)-v. 23 (summer 1973); autumn 1974-winter 1975
Flame (North Sydney, N.S.W.)
Quarterly, 1970-1975 ; Bimonthly, 1950-1969
2) Flame : the house journal of AGL and associated gas enterprises
Description North Sydney, N.S.W. : AGL, 1975-1996. 9v. : ill. (some col.) ; 30 cm.
Vol. 1, no. 1 (1975)-v. 9, no. 5 (Dec. 1996)
Service (Sydney, N.S.W.)
3) Agility : a magazine about AGL
North Sydney, N.S.W. : AGL, 1997-2000. v. : col. ill. ; 30 cm.
Issued with two concurrent numbering systems: biannually from issue 1 (Apr. 1997); monthly from issue 15 (Oct. 1998) continuing the numbering of 'Agility : your monthly update on AGL'
Issue 1 (Apr. 1997)-issue 7 (Autumn 2002)
Angles on AGL
Agility : your monthly update on AGL
Flame (North Sydney, N.S.W.)
4) Angles on AGL (he (also titled "Angles")
Sydney, N.S.W. : AGL, 2000- ; v. ; 30 cm.
Cover title. "A magazine about AGL". "In-house magazine".
No. 1 (winter 2000)-
THE ORIGINS AND PRACTICE OF A "NEW SUBURBIA" PHILOSOPHY
What makes an ideal place to live?
Considering that is thought to be good for the building and construction industries and their workers (provides jobs etc.), good for developer companies (provides profits etc.), and good of course for the 'new settlers' who move into new built environments.
So what sort of building program not only captures the culture, history, heritage and essence of place; but as well takes on the characteristics of its surroundings and by doing so makes its presence and the place meaningful to the observer? (... those being important criteria in the opinion of one architect, discussed below, who has much considered ways to 'build' a sense of place - Cory Stechyshyn.)
Is there any level of broad agreement on such things?
Who first conceived the "New Suburbia" town planning trend, or 'philosophy'? Or Is there indeed really any general core philosophical trend to it all - or how much of it is perhaps 'just marketing blurb'? And who has asked these sorts of questions before?
It's doubtful if the term "New Suburbia" really does have any constant or consistent meaning from one new development to another that has promoted it - but at least one phrase that is often spoken by new suburbia promoters, namely "sense of place", actually has considerable conceptual backtground and has been much philosophised upon by architects, planners and others:
“Our memory of events may depend upon a strong sense of place, and by extension, our sense of place may be influenced by the integrity of the memories formed there”. So wrote Sternberg and Matthew. ( Sternberg, Esther M. and Wilson, Matthew A., 2006. Neuroscience and Architecture: Seeking Common Ground. Cell 127, Elsevier Inc.) They opined that a key factor in distinguishing 'place from space' is the ability for humans to interact. This provides much of the feeling of belonging to the environment, instead of just passing through it. Also, establishing a connection between spaces is important. This provides opportunity for the incorporation of landmarks and other architectural features that can make a place memorable. Thus 'sense of place' and sense of community are found mentioned numerous times in the writings on new urbanism, new suburbia and similar themes.
Therefore it is not surprising that creating a "sense of place" is strongly stressed in the Rosecorp vision for new suburbia. Or that key landmarks, the village green, community hall and country club, were clustered at the topographic high of the development space.
Breakfast Point does inherits a strong 'sense of place' footprint, or delineation, from the gas works - it is delineated on one side by the gas works brick wall, and on the other side by the waterfront. The retention of the old tall brick wall that screened the gas works adds to the sense of Breakfast Point being almost a closed "gated" private community, even though it is not such - for example "Breakfast Point, a huge private community near Cabarita" ( http://www.smh.com.au/news/property/court-in-the-act/2006/10/13/1160246294975.html ). Commercially created additions to sense of place are the village square and community hall to give a focus. A small but entirely adequate shopping centre located near the old gas works entrance supplies residents with all basics and thus makes the place rather self-sufficient.
A late addition, not in the original masterplan, has been the addition of a seniors precinct as one of the last sections of land which would be built upon. This was applauded by some of the residents who are already elderly, assuming it may offer them potential for staying at Breakfast Point for longer than might otherwise be possible. In this respect the only thing that Breakfast Point perhaps still lacks in the sense of place line-up might be to have its own columbarium.
The "Greater Sydney" suburbia has been expanding relentlessly and is presently spreading quite rapidly over the last open spaces of the Cumberland Plain, towards the Blue Mountains. It is very easy to get lost if in the new suburbs north of where the Great Western Highway crosses the Cumberland Plain - for it is often said that suburbia is "all the same" wherever you go. This may be an exaggeration but nonethess one can indeed get easily lost, and be searching in vain for any landmarks if no street directory is at hand. Some have referred to a quality of "placelessness" in urban sprawl (e.g. Reid, 1976).
One person who has asked many questions on what builds a sense of place is Cory Stechyshyn:
Cory R. Stechyshyn, Arch. Dipl. Tech., BES, Dipl. Arch., OAA, MRAIC Graduate of the University of Manitoba and RAIC Syllabus Program, 2005.
Cory is currently with Kuch Stephenson Gibson Malo Architects & Engineer at Thunder Bay, Ontario
Cory did a very comprehensive review on sense of space, as an architecture thesis - "Making sense of place - understanding human existence and the spirit of place" (2005). (Viz. http://members.shaw.ca/artitech/students.htm ; http://members.shaw.ca/artitech/thesis/downloads ). Cory's work may be found via those URLs - some of the available sections being:
Index of /artitech/thesis/downloads
- Parent Directory
[ The above links will lead anyone interested to the 5 year process of Cory's architectural thesis that sought to explore the concept of “place” in architecture, applying the learned principles to a hypothetical project on an undeveloped portion of waterfront land. This project attempts to encourage a city to discover itself and the relationship between its unique sense of place and its waterfront ... The efforts of this thesis inspired a community based coalition currently establishing the preconditions for a major multi-use attractions/heritage facility on Thunder Bay, Ontario’s waterfront, the Lake Superior Discovery Place – visit the Lake Superior Discovery Place website to find out more... www.lakesuperiorplace.org .. ] <--- The principles herein could in large part be utilised for an Upper Parramatta River Industrial Heritage place. The difficulties of the Lake Superior Place in attracting funding would probably be even greater for anything on the Parramatta River though, but not an impossibility.
Cory's stance on the importance of place follows Kate Nesbit who wrote "Architecture literally and symbolically overcomes the forces of nature to provide shelter. In the pre-industrial past, the production of meaning in architecture relied upon structured references to and associations with nature. Modern architecture embraced the machine analogy instead of the organic analogy. Although machines are often designed on the basis of natural systems, their use as a formal model prevented architecture from referring directly to nature. This is problematic, because despite technological advances, symbolizing man’s position within the natural world remains one of architecture’s primary roles”. (Kate Nesbitt. Theorizing A New Agenda for Architecture - An Anthology of Architectural Theory.)
Or put another way - “Architecture literally and symbolically overcomes the forces of nature to provide shelter. In the pre-industrial past, the production of meaning in architecture relied upon structured references to and associations with nature. Modern architecture embraced the machine analogy instead of the organic analogy. Although machines are often designed on the basis of natural systems, their use as a formal model prevented architecture from referring directly to nature. This is problematic because despite technological advances, symbolizing man’s position within the natural world remains one of architecture’s roles.”
Cory thought his goals could only be examined through research into the theories of place and the architects, philosophers and theorists who have ventured into understanding the phenomena that give our physical environments a sense of place. It would also require the investigation into a sense of place with respect to the city as a whole and an understanding of what make places, cities and our lives meaningful.
"This thesis was an important step in my architectural education, one that has allowed me to explore my personal beliefs in such a way that I can better understand human existence and how our physical world is complimented by the spirit of place. This thesis has influenced me in a way that I hope will impact my architectural thinking and that will always challenge me to better understand our place on this earth and how that understanding should be translated to built form." - Cory.
"I have also come to realize that 'place' is not a theory, it is the starting point from which all design for built environments should begin. It presumes free-will, a desire to understand and a search for meaning. All other theories, philosophies, practicalities, economies and personal opinions take over from there." - Cory.
The three themes of place - by Cory Stechyshyn
Finding the "spirit of place" ... is this just nonsense, or for real?
In the thesis of Cory Stechyshyn there is supposed that there is "a spirit to be found in every place" - and 'what the site wants to be' can be either discovered spiritually or revealed by memories of the past ... Cory writes "We need to find the spirit that exists within the environments in which we build in order to create a meaningful existence between man, nature and space. When the building becomes involved in the spirit of a place, a meaningful experience is made present to us and we experience a sense of place".
Those who think they can discern what a place 'wants' to become, or is destined to become, can sometime be mistaken. Cory Stechyshyn chose an place to plan for, as student exercise, that is on the shoreline of Thunder Bay, an industrial city. Sir John A. MacDonald made a speech made in that city, upon the opening of the railway line, that included saying "“You have the railway on one side, and the water on the other, and with these two you must be a great city. You must be a wealthy city, and I am quite sure the enterprise of those men who have made this their home will be sufficient to make this town what God and nature has designed it to be.” Similar could have been said of Concord (or City of Canada Bay) - that it had the railway along the southern and western sides and the river along the northern boundary - and that all along the river seemed destined to yield industrial growth and prosperity. That would have been the perspective or inference, or even much of the 'sense of place', at one time. But later on, for varied reasons, all the industry began moving out, and being replaced by denser-residential luxury housing development. Would that too be said what it 'wanted' to become, or was destined to become? How does one objectively find 'spirit of place'? Cory Stechyshyn makes suggestions but certainly not all would agree with his lines of thinking.
Cory is also one of the many who advocate that planning should involve the community in an awareness of place. Similarly, the Prince of Wales's Institute of Architecture began trying to promote the principle of putting people and communities "at the centre" of planning and design processes.
In practice though none of this idealism is done here either by private or public developers. What 'the community' has thought about all the change ongoing along the Parramatta River is not well known, and no examples are known where the community has been actively involved in planning.
And it seems unlikely that anyone has been trying to "discover" the spirit of Breakfast Point either by spiritual means, or 'memory' (history) means. So instead of "a meaningful experience" being made present that would inculculate sense of place, the sense of place for Breakfast Point has been commercially created - perhaps by experts who are experienced in this (i.e. with experience of how this has gone at former developments?). If it works it works; but if there are difficulties then perhaps Cory's "discovery" approach might bear consideration.
The 'worked example' in Cory's thesis is a derelict industrial waterfront development at Thunder Bay on the Great Lakes, Ontario. He, from the 'discovery' approach, ends up having a heritage centre there. The project, named Lake Superior Discovery Place, currently seeks to become a reality ( http://www.lakesuperiorplace.org/content/Our_Inspiration ).
Promoting Lake Superior Discovery Place, 2009.
So far along the Parramatta River the former industrial sites have given rise to massive high density development, with Rhodes being an extreme example, with all industrial memories thoroughly repressed. If Cory's method of directly 'asking' the environment what it 'wants' to become, or concentration on 'memories' were followed then it seems extremely likely that they would lead to development of some sort of heritage centre or museum - somewhere that directly remembered the industrial heritage and all that it contributed to former society. Any of several places along the upper Parramatta might suggest such - yet how many such centres are necessary? Possibly just one "upper Parramatta River industrial heritage centre" could tell the story of all the former industries? It does not have to be at Breakfast Point (although the Powerhouse building would seem a suitable venue?), as Homebush Bay where there is already a great deal of exhibitions space is another distinct possibility - as well as places further up the river which will likely be redeveloped sooner or later.
'New Suburbia' in West Towne, USA.
New Suburbia at Breakfast Point - a leading Australian example as most would likely agree.
New Suburbia promotion called "Lighthouse" at Long Island, Nassau County, New York State.
The Lighthouse at Long Island is a $3.74 billion project for 150 acres in a currently low rise area (the town of Hempstead). This "New Suburbia" project is big - 5.5 million square feet of mixed-use development, 2,300 living places, two hotel and residential towers almost 40 stories tall. It would provive 75,000 construction and secondary jobs and 19,000 permanent jobs claimed for the project, the Lighthouse at Long Island, qualify as suitably big.
The "Glen Isle" deveopment vision by RexCorp and associates - located along the shore of a creek (or 'Hempstead Harbor') - is a 56 acre development carried out in concert with a $120 million Superfund cleanup of this former 'brownfield site'. The plan comprises 860 residential units, a 250-suite hotel, office space, and public waterfront esplanade. Also on tap is a high-speed ferry terminal that won $8 million in stimulus funding, and is expected to offer commuter service to Manhattan. The complex too has been regarded as "a model for the New Suburbia".
History of the Site – A Story of Transformation
Glen Cove Creek has a long, storied history that is closely associated with its waterfront. In the past, companies such as Glen Cove Starchworks and the Wa Cheng Smelting Factory have been at the epicenter of the Creek’s industrial and economic existence. Glen Cove would not be what it is today without the generations of hard-working
men and women who shaped the character
of the waterfront. Unfortunately, and unbeknownst to most, this came at the expense of the natural environment.
Over time it became evident that the contamination was greater than anyone could have possibly imagined. This was epitomized when the Glen Cove waterfront was designated as one of the worst Brownfield Superfund sites in the country.
A key milestone in Glen Cove’s history occurred on October 27, 2005 when the last truck-load of radioactive waste was removed from the western portion of the waterfront. This monumental event, along with the commencement of the bridge and road connector projects, are critical elements essential to the evolution of Glen Cove’s revitalization.
To date, the City of Glen Cove in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the USEPA, the NYSDEC and numerous other State and Federal Agencies have expended or committed in excess of $120 Million towards remediating the site and providing much needed infrastructure improvements. These cleanup efforts have transformed this former blight into land that will benefit all residents of Glen Cove.
On October 15, 2007, RexCorp Realty (now known as RXR Realty) partnered with Glen Isle Partners, LLC., creating RexCorp-Glen Isle Partners, LLC (now RXR Glen Isle).
( http://www.glenisle.com/pages/history.cfm )
The "last truck-loads" of radioactive waste, going from the western portion of the waterfront, at the site for "Glen Isle" development..
The above photo is in Dr JoAnne Catagna's article in Engineer, Jan-March 2006, about the clean-up of the site. Dr. JoAnne Castagna is a technical writer/editor with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. She can be reached at email@example.com
The EPA found low-level radiation and heavy metal contamination in the soil throughout the 26 acre Li Tungsten works, as well as in the nearby 23 acre Captain’s Cove property that had been used as a dumping ground by area businesses and residents. There was laboratory chemicals and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-contaminated waste, in hundreds of rusted drums and in above- and below ground tanks. Dr Catagna's article doesn't go into why these were there. It just says "All of this occurred before the establishment of the strict environmental laws we have today" (being almost identical parlance as one finds used repeatedly in Australia for industrial sites such as those along the Parramatta River).
Approximately 87,500 tons of radioactive soil and 35,000 tons of metal-contaminated soil have been removed in cleaning up the site for the Glen Isle development. As is common in all such stories, it was not stated in the 2006 article in 'Engineer' just where the waste was being transported to (possibly to a licensed facility called "US Ecology", in Idaho?).
The former owners at the Glen Isle future site were principally the Wah Chang Smelting and Refining Company, and the somehow-realted , Li Tungsten Corporation, who had been operating there from the 1940s to the mid-1980s.
Dr Catagna wrote as if these companies rather as if they were different entities, e.g. - "Wah Chang Corporation and Wah Chang Smelting and Refining Company were two of these companies. Ironically, Wah Chang means “great development” (in part) in Chinese, and these companies - along with others such as the Li Tungsten Corporation ran facilities on different portions of the site".
A little more of the Li story, gleaned off the internet, follows.
In 1916, Dr. K. C. Li founded the Wah Chang Corporation as an international tungsten ore and concentrate trading company, in New York state.
Li was a mining engineer who came from a family that owned an antimony and tungsten mining operation in China.
According to company literature, Li chose the name Wah Chang, which means "great development" to indicate the promising future he saw.
The first symbol of the company's name in Chinese represents a tree copiously covered with blossoms. The second character denotes two suns, or radiance greater than that which humans have known previously.
Li envisioned his company contributing "intellectual brillance that would lead to great progress for all people."
In the 1940s the company first entered into the actrual reduction and refining of tungsten ores (in addition to trading in ore), and it began to produce tungsten and molybdenum mill products.
Prior to World War I, Wah Chang developed an ongoing relationship with the United States government. During WWI, the company supplied almost 100 percent of the nation's antimony needs with metal that it obtained using its Far East connection. Wah Chang later helped the United States build its stockpiles of tungsten, tin, and antimony and it in fact became the 'allocating agent' for all the tungsten that defense forces used during World War II.
In early 1956, the Atomic Energy Commission contracted with Wah Chang to run the U. S. Bureau of Mines zirconium plant in Albany, Oregon, to develop high-purity zirconium for use in the Navy's nuclear program - and the company also later diversified into various hi-tech metals activities.
In 1967, after Mr Li's death, Teledyne Inc. purchased the Wah Chang company. In the 1970s it became the world's largest producer for zirconium and hafnium metals, niobium and tantalum alloys, and also a leading research center for refractory metals.
A challenge facing Wah Chang arose in 1982 over the disposal of the radioactive sludge produced as a by-product of the zirconium refining process at its Albany plant between 1967 and the late 1970s. Wah Chang initially protested that this waste material was not significantly harmful enough to be of concern but it ended up having to remove 100,000 cubic yards of sludge, and about 2,000 cubic yards of radioactive material, between 1991 and 1993 at a cost of about $10 million.
There followed in 1989, similar ction against the company in respect of initial concern over some 16,000 tons of radioactive material containing thorium and radium at the company's former smelting and refining plant in Glen Cove, New York. That once again raised the spectre of long-term environmental issues for the company. Former employees of the plant talked about their health problems in a 1989 New York Times article. The abandoned Glen Cove property, was added to EPA's Superfund list. It contained nine old buildings, more than 150 chemical and processing tanks (some accounts say over 200 tanks), about 200 drums of waste 'chemicals', and thousands of miscellaneous containers (barrels, 'boxes' etc.) of 'ore residues' and other wastes. The EPA's initial assessment of the site was that it posed little of no danger to the (as thorium is a low emitter of radiation compared to other radioactive wastes).
In the meantime, Wah Chang's parent company Teledyne merged with Allegheny Technologies to become Allegheny Teledyne Inc. (ATI) in 1996. Soon after, due to increased competition in the titanium industry, ATI consolidated Wah Chang and Oremet subsidiaries (entailing 88 layoffs at both Oremet and Wah Chang which together became a part of ATI's "specialty metals division").
With the Glen Cove site now cleaned up, Donald Monti, a partner in the Glen Isle Development Company, depicts the site as a “a jewel waiting to happen.” His developer’s-eye-view includes 860 residential units in tiered mid-rise buildings set against a wooded hillside, along with a luxury hotel, spa, offices and retail shops, marinas, museums and perhaps even a culinary and wine school. As with all such mega development projects there have been mixed reactions to it. For Glen Isle project to date there has been very strong unions support for it, based on the expectations about it providing jobs, and there have been those in the community who deplore the planned coming of major high-rise to the area, etc.
Example of the "build the next LAYER of highrise" concept (that currently favours the flat-ish tops of supermarkets as potential sites; and which has already been suggested for Burwood and other places in Sydney. This view is of Sky View Parc project, A 14-acre, $1 billion mixed-use development with 1,100 luxury condominiums spread over six towers
built on top of a mall, featuring amenities such as a putting green, tennis courts and a health club. It is situated at
Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, New York.. (Info: http://www.skyviewparc.com )
One modes of increasing population in suburbia are proposals to build condominiums atop of existing malls (as show for the Sky View Parc project above). This has been advocated for Burwood in the inner west but has not happened. Another method is the industrial sites major developments as along the Parramatta River as have occurred in recent years. The third and least innovative method is simply to buy sufficient older houses to eventually be in a position to redevelop an entire block. This too has happened in the inner west, with a well-known example being the Strathfield Triangle redevelopment.
AGL, 1836 [facsimile 1961]. Prospectus of the Australian Gas-Light Company. [ Copy at National Library, FRM F2080c (facsim.) ]
AGL, 1897. Diamond Jubilee 1839-1897, Historical Sketch.
AGL, 1925. An all-Australian industry : souvenir of visit to the Mortlake Works. [ Copy at National Library, Np 665.772099441 A938 ]
AGL, 1920s. The growth of a great public utility. [ Copy at National Library, Np 338.7665772099441 A938 ]
AGK, 1955. Behind the gas flame : the story of a great industry. [ Copy at National Library, NLp 332.0994 AUS ]
Beasley, Margo , 2004. ‘Sarah Dawes and the Coal Lumpers: Absence and Presence on the Sydney Waterfront 1900–1917’, Ph.D. thesis, University of Wollongong. ( Downloadable: http://www.library.uow.edu.au/adt-NWU/uploads/approved/adt-NWU20050720.135615/public/01Front.pdf )
Broomham, Rosemary, 1983. Our works at Mortlake 1886-1982. Flame, vol. 3, no. 10, pp. 2-3, 5, 10.
Broomham, Rosemary, 1986. Mortlake 1886-1986: 100 Years of Service to the Community.
Broomham, Rosemary, 1987. First Light: 150 Years of Gas. Hale and Iremonger, Sydney.
Coupe, Sheena, 1983. Concord – A Centenary History, Council of the Municipality of Concord, Concord NSW.
Dames and Moore, 1989. The Australian Gaslight Company Mortlake Gasworks Site. Environmental Remediation Feasibility Study. 52 pp.
[Canada Bay Library, LH 711.8 AUS].
Department of Planning, 2010. Inner West Marina, Parramatta River, Sydney. Project Application. 10 vols.
EJE Heritage (undated?). Kendall Bay coal wharf (Breakfast Point Jetty): photographic archival record. Five Dock branch of the City of Canada Bay Library (call no. LH627.31KEN).
Fox and Associates, 1985. Parramatta River Heritage Study.
Giles Tribe Architects, 2005. Breakfast Point Concept Plan.
Giles Tribe Architects, 2009. Statement of Heritage Impact - Alterations and Adaptive Re-use of Blacksmith's Workshop.
Godden, Don and Associates, 1989. Mortlake Gasworks Conservation Plans - Miscellaneous Structures. 112 pp. [City of Canada Bay Library, LH 711.8 MOR - NB: this copy may be lacking appendices]
Godden Mackay Pty Ltd and Rosemary Broomham, 1990. Mortlake Gasworks Gasholders No. 3 and 4 Conservation Plan.
Guteridge, Haskins and Davey Pty Ltd, 1991. Application for Rezoning. Statement of Environmental Effects. AGL Site, Breakfast Point, Mortlake, Municipality of Concord. [City of Canada Bay Library, LH 388.46 AGL]
HLA Envirosciences, 2004. Conservation Management Plan, the Power House.
Keenan, D.R., 1994. The Rockdale and Enfield Lines of the Sydney Tramway System, Transit Press, Sydney.
Gondwana Consulting, 2006. Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Study and Management Plan – City of Canada Bay', draft February 2006. For City of Canada Bay.
Perica & Associates Urban Planning Pty Ltd, 2010. S75W Modification Breakfast Point – Seniors Housing and related changes: Supporting Environmental Assessment.
Pollon, F., 1988. The Book of Sydney Suburbs, Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
Relph, E., 1976. Place and Placelessness. Pion Ltd., 1976.
Shaw, G.M.,. 1933. Concord Jubilee 1883–1933, Canberra Press, Sydney.
Sherwood Taylor, F., 1931 (reprinted till 1947). Inorganic and theoretical chemistry. William Heineman Ltd., London. 847 pp.
Sir John A. MacDonald. A speech made in the city upon the opening of the railway, from the book Thunder Bay, From Rivalry to Unity, Chapter Six, Building the Industrial City, Thunder Bay Historical Museum Society, 1995.
Smith , K.S., 2005. The Aboriginal History of Ryde, City of Ryde, Ryde NSW.
Stephensen. P.R., 1966. The History and Description of Sydney Harbour, Rigby, Adelaide, 1966.
Tesoriero, M., 1986. Mortlake 1886–1986, Australian Gas Light Company, Sydney.
URS Australia Pty Ltd., 2008. Preliminary Environmental Assessment Remediation of Sediments in Kendall Bay, Mortlake. Prepared for Jemena Limited.
( It is hoped here to make or just to link to already-existing further webpages [if such already exist] on the industries that came to the shores of the Parramatta River - such as included AGL at Mortlake, BALM/Dulux at Cabarita, Dunlop-Perdriau at Birkenhead Point, the various industries located on the Rhodes peninsula and Tullochs at Rhodes. Smaller industries were also developed, such as Victa mowers which initially had a factory at Mortlake. Some priority will be given to finding industries which may have used the by-products of the Mortlake gas works in any way. For example, one of the best known of such other sites would be the Union Carbide site at Rhodes. This was originally the factory of Timbrol Limited, established to make timber preservatives and other chemicals from by-products of the Mortlake Gas Works. n 1928 Timbrol Ltd, started thIe production of timber preservatives and other chemical based commodities, utilising waste coal tar oils from the Mortlake gas works. By 1949 the Timbrol plant was producing various chlorinated herbicides including DDT, 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D (which are both ingredients in the later infamous 'Agent Orange'). An unwanted by-product from 2,4,5-T manufacture was 2,3,7,8 tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) which has subsequently caused much concern and has been thought to have spread to some degree downstream from Homebush Bay. This is presumably the most dramatic of the examples of river trafficking in chemicals between various plants and the gas works but no doubt other examples exist. Also of interest might be the relations between the coal and petroleum chemicals industries along the river over time?)
At or near Mortlake -
Cabarita, Cape Cabarita (Harmony Point), Exile/Canada Bays - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/parra-r-lux-housing.htm
Jane Bennett, artist - http://dl.dropbox.com/u/5737284/jane-bennett-artist.htm
Hatheway, Allen W., 2008, Internet Website on Former Manufactured Gas Plants - www.Hatheway.net
Hatheway's world of former gasworks and coal tar sites -
Lessons Learned from 20 Years Amongst Derelict Gasworks, Gasworks Dumps, Coke Ovens & Other Coal-Tar Sites
History of Manufactured Gas in Australia; Geological-Remedial Implications
Orchestrated Gasworks Residual & Waste Dumping in Western Long Island, New York
Litigation and Other Legal Proceedings for Coal-Tar Sites
Professor Hatheway's PowerPoint and PDF Slide Show Archive
Geo-environmental classification of the residuals and wastes of gas manufacturing.
Long-term Fate and Transport Characteristics of Manufactured Gas Plant Residuals and Wastes.
Technical history of the town gas plants of the British Isles.
A discussion of other manufactured gas technologies that co-existed with mainstream coal-related manufactured gas systems.
"Former Manufactured Gas Plants in The News"
"How to locate and confirm a gas works site"
"Literature of Manufactured Gas"
Dr. Hatheway's interview on National Public radio - Download an MP3 file of the 15 minute interview. (~6 MB)
International Industrial Heritage & Archaeological Associations (in order of formation)
1970 - A.S.H.A. Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology.1991 incorporated New Zealand. www.asha.org.au/
1971 - S.I.A. Society for Industrial Archaeology. USA www.sia-web.org/
1973 - A.I.A. Association for Industrial Archaeology. UK www.industrial-archaeology.org.uk
1978 - V.V.I.A. Vlaamse Vereniging voor Industriele-Archaeologie. Flemish www.vvia.be/
1979 - C.I.L.A.C. Comit d’Information et de L’etude et al mise en valeur du Patrimoine Industriel. France.www.cilac.com/
1996 - Industrial Heritage of Ireland. www.steammuseum.com/ihai/
1997 - A.I.P.A.I. Associczione Italiana per il Patrimonio Archaeologico Industriale. Italy. www.patrimonioindustriale.it/
1997 - E-FAITH. European Federation of Associations of Industrial and Technical Heritage.www.e-faith.org/
1999 - TICCIH. The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage. U.K. www.mnactec.cat/ticcih
( 37 Countries are listed as members of TICCIH and the Australian group is at firstname.lastname@example.org )
Disclaimer: While all reasonable effort has been made to ensure that "facts" on this webpage actually are facts, please note that the writer, the State of New South Wales, its agencies and employees may disclaim various things above; whence it is strongly recommended that no person should place reliance upon anything herein without double-checking it first with relevant government or company bodies.