Portland Cement Works Conservation Management

Project outline

Portland Cement Works is a state significant heritage site located in the town of Portland, in the NSW Central Tablelands. Portland is known as ‘the town that built NSW’ and for its well-known product, Portland Cement. The site evidences two key phases of development; the earliest lime production in NSW (1882-1899) and the Cement industry (1900-1998).

The site provided raw materials from its own quarries and established itself as a long-term, large-scale producer of world-quality cement, using both local and imported machinery and labour. The town of Portland grew from the source of this industry, creating a rare relationship as a one-company town. This is evidenced in the layout of the town and many of its civic amenities.

The town was named after the cement works some 30 years after the earliest kilns were built, and cement production in Portland continued for a century. The site is currently disused and contains a number of historic buildings and features that show various stages of the company’s development.

The landowners, AWJ Civil, are proposing to sensitively re-develop the site to adaptively re-use the existing buildings as well as building new structures to offer commercial, residential and recreational opportunities. The project – named The Foundations – has also involved extensive community consultation.

Our role

Niche Environment and Heritage was commissioned by AWJ Civil and Catalyst Consulting initially to prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) in 2017. Since then our services have been extended to facilitate the endorsement of the CMP through Heritage Council, provide design advice and prepare Heritage Impact Statements for s60 approval.

This work will not only contribute to the community by reactivating the site but by also creating a landmark that attracts visitors to a rural town that will assist in its economic development.

Our methodology in providing these services involved detailed site survey, historical research and analysis, and developing conservation policies and practices for the site.

Challenges

The project provided a number of interesting challenges including; the enormity of the site, the number of structures contained within and finding appropriate adaptive re-use functions for individual structures. The site also contains two separate heritage listed precincts – Raffan’s Mill and Brick Bottle Kilns, and the Cement Works Site. The solution to managing the two became evident when historical research unveiled that the two sites actually functioned as one. This information was relayed to the designers in the form of retaining a visual corridor or link between the sites, to enable future interpretation of the site as a cohesive single entity.

Outcomes

Niche supplied a detailed CMP with identified conservation and repair works for individual items that has assisted AWJ Civil and Catalyst Consulting in enabling future staging of works. Our team also facilitated s60 approval for a world renowned artist to paint the existing Cement Silos at the site. This work will not only contribute to the community by reactivating the site but by also creating a landmark that attracts visitors to a rural town that will assist in its economic development.

To find out more about The Foundations project, click here.
To find out more about Niche’s heritage management service, click here or contact us.

Pictured:

1) Portland Cement Works showing Powerhouse Building and Chimney (Centre) and Cement Silos (left) facing south-east
2) 1914 View of Portland Cement Site Works showing the Casino, foreground, and The Powerhouse, background (Source: Blue Circle Maldon Archives cited in NBRS 2010 CMP)
3) Concept images of re-use at Powerhouse Building (Source: Roberts Day)
4) Activation works – silo artwork (Source: The Foundations, Portland NSW – Facebook page)

Heritage conservation

built heritage

heritage design principles

heritage design principles