White Bay Power Station reopens

As the White Bay Power Station reopens to the public for the 24th Biennale of Sydney, GML looks back on its role in the conservation of this significant site.

The heritage-listed White Bay Power Station is one of the most recognised landmarks in Sydney’s inner west.

It was one of the longest-serving power stations in Sydney, constructed between 1912 and 1917 to power the tram system and later, the rail network. It supplied power to the electricity grid after 1958. The power station remained in service until 1984 when it was decommissioned. The buildings are now over 100 years old, with significant upgrades completed in the 1920s and 1950s.

The power station holds immense significance as the only one retaining machinery and equipment predating the 1950s, demonstrating the process of electricity production and its use throughout Sydney’s extensive rail network. The site is listed on the NSW State Heritage, National Trust of Australia and National Estate registers.

More than 20 years ago Godden Mackay Logan (now GML) conducted an inventory and assessed the heritage significance of the historic machinery at the White Bay Power Station as part of a revised Conservation Management Plan. ⁠The report identified relevant constraints and opportunities and set out a conservation strategy for its appropriate management. The inventory included priority conservation works and guidelines for future development.

The extensive remediation and conservation efforts undertaken since then by Placemaking NSW and other partners, in line with the site’s Conservation Management Plan, deserve recognition and serve as a reminder that positive heritage outcomes often require time and dedication.⁠

Visitors will be able to explore White Bay Power Station’s historic Turbine Hall and Boiler Room, the two main spaces of the building, while experiencing the art of the Biennale.

The images featured here were captured by Godden Mackay Logan as part of the inventory in 2003.

The Chimney Stacks.

Boiler Control Room.

Steam High Pressure Feedwater Pump.

The Parson’s Turbo Alternator.