University of Sydney and surrounds to be heritage listed

27 August 2018
The University of Sydney, University Colleges and Victoria Park have today been recognised as places of state significance, with the NSW Heritage Minister announcing the area will be listed on the State Heritage Register.
It is only fitting that Australia’s oldest university should be on our State Heritage Register.
NSW Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton

NSW Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton has today announced the University’s Camperdown campus, associated residential colleges and neighbouring Victoria Park have been approved to be listed on the State Heritage Register.

In making the announcement Minister Upton said, “It is only fitting that Australia’s oldest university should be on our State Heritage Register.”

“This is a time to celebrate, to reflect on the history and the culture of this unique cultural landscape, and to preserve and protect the heritage values of the University of Sydney, University College and Victoria Park for years to come.”

Places in New South Wales are heritage listed when the Heritage Minister deems them important enough to save and protect for future generations.

A formal listing means it is a place revealing the story of Australia’s past and ensures it is safeguarded and enriches the future.

The University, often recognised as one of the world's most beautiful campuses, and its surrounds will join other registered heritage including the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Town Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

“This announcement demonstrates our commitment as curators and caretakers of some of Sydney’s most historic buildings,” said Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence.

We recognise we sit on the land of the Cadigal people of the Eora nation and we are immensely proud to be custodians of this site that we share with the people of NSW.
Dr Michael Spence

“Many people who have made significant contributions to our society have either studied, taught or undertaken research here and many more will continue to do so long into the future,” said Dr Spence.

NSW Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton with Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence

NSW Heritage Minister Gabrielle Upton with Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence

As part of the listing, a number of the University’s most well-known buildings have been marked as having ‘exceptional’ significance to the state, including the Quadrangle, the Old Teacher’s College, the Holme Building, the Anderson Stuart Building and the JD Stewart Building.

“The Main Quadrangle Building, the Anderson Stuart Building and the Gate Lodges comprise what is arguably the most important group of Gothic and Tudor Revival style architecture in New South Wales and potentially Australia,” said Ian Kelly, the University of Sydney’s Heritage Consultant.

“Throughout history a number of architects have influenced the site, from Edmund Blacket in the 1850s, Professor Leslie Wilkinson in the 1920s and the Government Architect’s Office in 1960s, just to name a few.

“In particular, Blacket’s location of the Great Hall and the eastern side of the Quadrangle, built between 1854 and 1862, utilised the existing landscape to provide a dramatic presentation of the University on approach from the city, a setting that still remains to this day.”

The listing also recognises the University’s associated residential colleges, including the Women’s College, the first university college for women in Australia, which was individually listed on the State Heritage Register in 2005.

The Anderson Stuart Building

The Anderson Stuart Building

Building a history of education

The site on which the Camperdown campus sits, along with the university colleges and Victoria Park, has long been tied to Aboriginal Australians, with the people of the Cadigal and Wangal groups living in the area and using the rich landscape, including a spring that drained to Blackwattle Bay.

In 1790, part of the ‘Kanguroo Ground’ near the present-day junction of Parramatta and City Roads was set aside as reserves for Crown, church and school purposes and used for pasturage of stock.

The University of Sydney was established in 1850 by William Charles Wentworth as Australia’s first university, with the ideal that children of any standing could earn a university education.

The structure of the University as a non-denominational, non-residential institution – with the residential colleges to be established around the main buildings by the four religious denominations of the day – represented a uniquely Australian approach to university design.

The first University buildings to be constructed formed the basis of what is now the Quadrangle, designed by Edmund Blacket between 1855 and 1862.

The Quadrangle was not fully completed for over 100 years, when the Western towers and cloisters were built in 1963.

Timeline of significant building work

  • 1854 to 1963 - Main Quadrangle
  • 1885 – Anderson Stuart Building
  • 1887 – Macleay Building
  • 1908 – John Woolley Building
  • 1910 to 1912 – Holme Building
  • 1910 to 1912 – J.D. Stewart Building
  • 1911 to 1916 – R.D. Watt
  • 1914-25 – Teachers College
  • 1925 – Physics Building
  • 1930 – Edward Ford Building
  • 1949 – R.C. Mills Building
  • 1956 – Chemistry Building
  • 1962 – Fisher Library
  • 2009 – New Law Building
  • 2012 – Charles Perkins Centre