Heritage of the Powerhouse Museum:

What’s at stake in the move to Parramatta

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The heritage of the buildings IS important…….

By 1897 Sydney had become a major city and it needed a public transport system, so the government got busy:

Building started 8 November 1897: Read what had to be done

The first trams ran 25 months later, carrying nearly100 000 passengers on their first day.
The builders had no computers, no international phones, no Internet, and very few mechanical tools.
No comparison is made with contemporary projects!

Built in only 25 months? But built with skill and pride….


The magnificence of the buildings is detailed in Heritage Aspects of the Powerhouse Museum Precinct, available from tomlockley@gmail.com and online in rough form here.

The huge equipment of the early power stations necessitated the magnificent galleries that are used to such dramatic effect for the transport hall display and in the turbine hall and steam gallery. Pioneer director of the 1988 museum conversion, Lindsay Sharp, has calculated that if the interior space available in the museum was made into a rectangular prism box, the Opera House would fit into it.


Recreating the spectacular vistas afforded by the huge industrial buildings will not be an economic proposition for the new museum. These spaces are unique. The Catalina ‘Frigate Bird II’ is the largest suspended aircraft in any museum in the world.


Even the tram shed - now the Harwood Building, has sandstone features and a variety of brick types



The interior was finished well, with graceful lamps, which can still be seen…


The 1902 chimneys are massive: in 1988 their demolition was suspended because it was too challenging a task. They now are used as part of the air conditioning system.
The Switch Room, built 1926, features art deco architecture and superb brickwork.