Sydney pump station recognised for heritage significance

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A Sydney pump station has been recognised for its national engineering heritage by Engineers Australia at an Engineering Heritage National Marker ceremony.

The iconic Ryde Water Pumping Station and its surrounding site host the original steam-powered Ryde Pumping Station No.1 operated from 1891 to 1930.

To increase capacity for the increasing water demands of a growing northern Sydney, pumping station No. 2 was commissioned on 15 September 1921, which was also steam-powered and built on the same site as pumping station No. 1.

Sydney Division President of Engineers Australia, Julie Mikhail, said the pumping station was recognised for its vital role in supplying water to the Northern Suburbs of Sydney, and for its technical, historical and aesthetic heritage significance.

“The site has a remarkable history and reflects a series of world-class engineering feats and innovation in its design and construction,” Ms Mikhail said.

President of World Federation of Engineering Organisations, Dr Marlene Kanga, said it is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge and remember the outstanding contribution of early engineers, who would have to develop their drawings without the use of computers and sophisticated software, but with a compass and slide rule.

Minister for Energy and Utilities, Don Harwin, said that today, many Sydneysiders are not aware of the early struggles the city experienced to secure a safe and regular supply of water to our communities.

“The Ryde Water Pumping Station is an important part of this incredible story, signifying engineering achievements and innovation in the water industry.

“Before the opening of the Ryde Water Pumping Station No. 2 in 1921, Sydney was not only in continual drought, but water was particularly scarce north of the harbour. This station was instrumental in providing water supply to the northern suburbs of Sydney,” Mr Harwin said.

When plans for the new water pumping station No. 2 were initiated in 1915, they were hampered by WWI which prevented the delivery of boilers and steam turbines ordered from Great Britain.

At this time, not only were there difficulties with accessing machinery, but all financial transactions had to be reviewed under war-time regulations and this created many challenges for the expansion of the plant.

On 15 September 1921, the second Ryde Water Pumping Station was commissioned as the largest water pumping station in Australia, and was a key factor in the growth of the Northern Suburbs of Sydney.

Managing Director of Sydney Water, Kevin Young, said locals are lucky enough to live in a city which supplies safe and high-quality drinking water to our communities every single day, and this is much to the credit of early forward-thinking planners, designers and engineers.

“The Ryde Pumping Station, almost 100 years on, continues to be an integral part of Sydney’s water supply. It continues to serve around one million residents every day and remains the largest water supply pumping station in Sydney,” Mr Young said.

“This station has played a vital role in keeping Sydney a liveable city and will continue to do so into the future. It is interesting to look back on the early challenges which our predecessors experienced, as we look ahead and plan for our city to secure water supply for an even greater increase in population – eight million people in Sydney by 2050.”

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