Sydney sketching. Pyrmont NSW 2009

June 30, 2012

Pyrmont Fire Station; B pencil. Worked for an hour under a tree (much beloved of the local dog population as it turned out) in a small park opposite. I’m surprised how historic buildings often have public seating directly opposite them in this suburb. I guess because there is so little left by way of historic architecture that the few items that remain are treasured by the locals. I stopped after an hour, because I wanted to get in another sketch before the Sydney Sketch Club meetup downed tools for lunch.


Pyrmont Public School; 2B pencil. About 40 mins’ worth – rather more rushed and lacking proper foundational drawing. The bright white tilework of the bell-tower give it a distinctly Italian feel. This was a comfortable draw given a small piazza directly opposite, the venue for outdoor chess players on Saturdays.

I look forward to returning to Pyrmont to taclke the Post Office (west facing, so needs an afternoon visit); the memorial to the Saunders standstone quarry; the former Sydney Eletric Powerstation building and remnants of 19th century shops. The peninsula is vaster than I imagined, but not surprising, given that it was a quarry.




Pyrmont, named after Bad Pyrmont in Germany following the discovery of a natural spring; inhabited by Eora aborigines who called it ‘Pirrama’; home of the sandstone from which many important Sydney buildings were built; today its long industrial history and population of working class poor (waterfront shiopyards and warehouses, sandstone quarry and later power station for Sydney business district) has been replaced by high-rise residential apartment blocks.

The Fire Station (1906)

In the Federation Free style, it’s an imposing three-storey dark red brick and sandstone corner building, built by Govt Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon.  Note its restrained use of dressed standstone in sills, keystones, quoins, eaves line and tower detailing, with rusticated sandstone dominating the segmental arches of the engine bays and florid art nouveau motifs in the upper level railing. Situated high on Pyrmont ridge, the Fire Station would have been reassuring to the several large businesses which became established in Pyrmont just a few years before.

As  a Fire Station building of the period, it can only be compared with two others – Castlereagh Street and Darlinghurst (the latter designed by Vernon). The snubby-looking finials are identical to those of the Registrar-General’s Building and the large curved bay window of Newtown Post Office was replicated on a smaller scale on the northern façade (the billard room).

For plans and a 1996 sketch by the NSW Fire Department, see


The Primary School (1891)

Another building on the Register of the National Estate, this was designed by W.E. Kemp and built in 1891, featuring a bell tower, belfry and slate roof. Modern property development directly across the road has incorporated, very sympathetically, a small piazza from which to view this north facade of the building.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: