State Heritage Register Nomination for Ultimo Power Station; Powerhouse Museum, 2016
In September 2016, the National Trust of Australia (NSW), submitted a nomination that the buildings of the ‘Ultimo Power House (Ultimo Power Station; Powerhouse Museum)’ be listed on the State Heritage Register. The reasons given for nomination were:
‘The Ultimo Powerhouse is clearly of State significance for its role both as an electricity generating station and as the venue for the Powerhouse Museum. Recent speculation regarding its future highlighted the fact that, owing to its ownership by the State, its future had been assumed to be protected and that its statutory listing status was below its known level of significance.’
As well as detailed descriptions of building and museum history, and responses to assessment criteria, the statement of significance was included:
‘The former Ultimo Power House is of State significance historically for being the first large state-owned electricity generating station in NSW and the original generating station for the supply of electricity to power the electric tramway network throughout Sydney. … The station also played a major part in the development of the Ultimo/Pyrmont area.’
The nomination also acknowledged that ‘Furthermore, the adaptive work undertaken for the station’s conversion to the Powerhouse Museum is significant both for its successful re-use of the buildings and successful integration of old and new buildings; the new building was awarded the Sulman Medal by the RAIA in 1988’; and that ‘The Ultimo Power House was adapted to house the Museum of Applied Arts and Technology (later, the Powerhouse Museum), the principal museum of technology, manufacturing, science and craft in NSW and retains the historical, aesthetic and cultural associations of this Museum dating back to the International Exhibition in the late nineteenth century. It is an ongoing repository for the exhibition of the finest examples of the skill and industry of the country and has an educational and research role in these areas as part of its operation’.
However, the curtilage map for the buildings shows only the original Powerhouse buildings and not the significant 1988 developments.
And the Heritage Council ignored the 2016 nomination until 2019, when it commissioned architects Cracknell & Lonergan to provide, in 2020, ‘an independent assessment of the proposed State Listing of the structures at the Ultimo Powerhouse site’ (which also only included the original Powerhouse buildings).
Read the 2016 nomination here: State heritage register nomination for Ultimo Powerhouse – National Trust
Read the 2020 nomination here: Assessment of Heritage Significance: Ultimo Tramways, Powerhouse Museum, 2020