View of the now scaffolded historic sewer vent in Premier Street Marrickville South.

View of the now scaffolded historic sewer vent in Premier Street Marrickville South as seen from the supermarket car park.

To me this is beautiful.

To me this is beautiful & historically important.

I read in the latest issue of the Marrickville Heritage Society ( Newsletter that the historic sewer vent in Premier Street Marrickville South will be remodified for safety reasons.  From memory Sydney Water did not feel confident that the vent would survive a one in 100 year storm.  Therefore, they intend to reduce the stack to half its current height.  There has been scaffolding around the vent for the last week or two.

While I appreciate Sydney Water’s reasons, I feel sad that this very significant landmark is going to be changed forever.  If it were a perfect world, I would like Sydney Water to spend the money to fortify the vent so it could be retained.

Incremental loss of our local history is happening at an alarming rate – from houses being demolished for new modern high-rise apartments to smaller things like the quiet removal of the street light that used to be suspended over the traffic island at the corner of Renwick Street & Excelsior Parade Marrickville.

The sewer vent in Premier Street is a local landmark & can be seen from many places across the locality.  For me, I look one way to see the Petersham Water Tower & the other to see the Cooks Pine & the Premier Street Sewer vent.  If I have been wandering aimlessly on my bicycle & need to focus on where I am, I can find these landmarks easily & orientate myself towards home.

I believe many in our community love these local landmarks as much as I do. These things make up the character of our suburb & some like this one, are definitely worth preserving.

If we continue to lose these things, we will end up with a homogenized & monocultural architectural environment.  Why can’t we follow London’s example?  They manage to keep their architectural heritage for many hundreds of years, while still morphing into a modern city. 

The front of the stack is dated 1898.  Part of the construction is a pair Queen Anne Revival worker’s cottages, that frankly look gorgeous.

Sydney Water has a great website page that covers the history & significance of the Premier Street sewer vent.  It is good to see this done so anyone can have access to information about our history.   I have pinched a few interesting tidbits, but you can read all the information here –

“The Premier Street Sewer Vent and Cottages is an item of significance for the State of NSW for the following reasons:

  • The excellent aesthetic and technical qualities of the masons’ craft of the classicist late-Victorian vent stack, the likes of which are not likely to be produced again.
  • The technical aspect of significance of the item is strongly emphasized by the ongoing operational use of the sewer vent and two cottages in their original function.
  • As a rare architectural composition in NSW consisting of a special sewer vent and a pair of cottages built by the Water Board for accommodation of maintenance staff.  For its role in an important stage of development of the sewerage services to the Inner Western Sydney suburbs area.
  • The aesthetically appealing historic vent stack and associated pair of cottages contribute significantly to the understanding of the development of design of special sewer ventshafts in Sydney and NSW. The item demonstrates historic circumstances of its creation, including the once common practice of the Water Board to create a cottage purposely built for accommodation of the maintenance staff on important sites.
  • The Premier Street ventshaft is also of significance as a prominent local area landmark, identifiable from a further distance and a notable element of the Marrickville landscape.”

Plus they say that the sewer vent is “substantially intact.”

If Sydney Water’s words do not support my argument to spend the money needed to retain this important local landmark, I don’t know what does.

Showing the top of the vent.  The vent already has has reinforcing rings.

Showing the top of the vent. The vent already has has reinforcing rings.