Port unveils next phase in historic Carrington Engine House restoration.

An additional $850,000 will be invested in ongoing restoration of the 143-year-old Carrington Hydraulic Engine House.

Built in 1877 and operating until 1967, the building housed the first large scale hydraulic power system to be established in Australia, providing power for the original coal loading cranes.

Work to restore the northern, eastern and western façades will commence this month, the port announced today at the re-opening of the site.

It follows completion this year of a $1.2 million project to restore the southern façade of the heritage-listed sandstone and masonry building and create a new public plaza celebrating its significance and history.

The first phase of work was possible thanks to $500,000 of funding from the Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund, administered by the NSW Government.

Port of Newcastle CEO Craig Carmody said the re-opening of the site – which had been delayed by COVID-19 – was an important milestone in a long-term plan to restore it to its former glory.

Port of Newcastle is proud to be the long-term custodian of this building, which has both historical and architectural significance for the city,” Mr Carmody said.

With a generous contribution from the NSW Government, we have restored the southern façade and created a new community space so people can enjoy the grounds of this picturesque building after a long period closed off to the public.

The additional $850,000 of work announced today will restore the other three façades and also provide improved weather protection for the interior by addressing historic roof integrity issues.

We are protecting and respecting the port’s important historic role of the past 220 years, while also powering ahead with ambitious plans for the next 100 years.

The port has a proud history as well as a critical role to play long into the future.”

History
  • Built in 1877 by the ports engineer Edward Moriarty, the workers and craftsmen who worked on the Pump House also built Customs House in Newcastle
  • The only other large-scale power station from the era that still survives is the Pumphouse Tavern at Ultimo, Sydney. The hydraulic power station at Carrington precedes the Sydney system by over a decade
  • The purpose of the Pump House was to run hydraulic cranes to load coal onto ships along the nearby waterfront stretch known as The Dyke
  • The building was decommissioned in the mid 1960s when the last hydraulic crane ceased operating
  • The site has been closed to the public since the mid 1990s
  • Capital works have occurred over the past 25 years, including asbestos removal and roof restoration
  • The Victorian Italianate building was added to the state heritage register 2017 and the first phase of major restoration work completed in 2020

Image from The Town and Country Journal, 18 May, 1895, page 31.
Restoration
  • $1.2 million project comprising (2018-2020)
  • $500,000 from the Newcastle Port Community Contribution Fund
  • $700,000 from Port of Newcastle’s capital works program
  • Restoration of the southern façade for structural integrity and weather protection
  • Creation of an interpretative space in front of the southern façade, including an outdoor plaza area featuring a 3D blueprint of the building’s past

2020-2021 work

  • Restoration of the northern, eastern and western façades
  • Roof restoration for additional weather protection
Hydraulic cranes working at Dyke Point Port of Newcastle. From The Australasian (Melbourne) 23 April 1898 page 29.