The Macdonaldtown Gasworks was built in 1892 and was located behind the southern end of Burren St, close to Macdonaldtown Railway Station. The site was used for processing coal to create gas. The gas was stored in two large steel gasholders and piped to the nearby Eveleigh Railyards for the lighting of railway carriages and workshops. The gasworks was also known as the Eveleigh Gasworks.
The gasworks was decommissioned and largely demolished in 1958, however one gasholder continued to store gas from other sites until the 1970s. This structure still remains in its original position today, behind the residences in Burren St, and is commonly referred to as the ‘southern gasholder’.
The southern gasholder is very significant as an archaeological item due to the information it provides as an extremely rare railway and industrial relic. It is thought to be the only remnant artefact of its type still standing in New South Wales. For this reason, the remediation project included a thorough restoration of the southern gasholder.
To restore the gasholder the project team engaged a specialist heritage engineer who assessed the gasholder’s structural integrity and provided advice on the best way to complete the restoration work. Due to the age and condition of the structure, the restoration was sensitive and difficult work.
Below ground portions of the gasworks infrastructure that had not been removed during its decommissioning also provided some important insights into the site’s heritage values. Before excavation of the remnant infrastructure and contaminated soil commenced, a heritage consultant created an archival record of the elements of the former northern gasholder, the superintendent’s residence and the retort house, where coal was burnt to create gas. The recording of all heritage features was to the standards required by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage.
A heritage interpretation of the site is currently being developed to inform the public of the site’s historical uses and its remediation. Installation of interpretative panels is planned for a number of locations.