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Wingham Post Office, Wynter St, Wingham, NSW, Australia

Photographs None
List Commonwealth Heritage List
Class Historic
Legal Status Listed place (22/08/2012)
Place ID 106196
Place File No 1/18/146/0003
Summary Statement of Significance
Wingham Post Office, originally constructed in 1884 to a design by New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet, is of historical and social significance. It has been at the centre of postal services and communications within the town for over 120 years. The early additions to the building, in the period up until c.1911, added amenities and enhanced services, and help demonstrate the importance of the facility to the town and its comparatively early adaptation to the evolving local postal and communication needs. The post office’s prominence within the townscape, including its setting facing the central parklands opposite, also draws attention to the civic building and its still recognisable post office role. The post office is additionally promoted in local heritage walks, as one of the valued historic buildings in the town (criterion a and g).
 
While Wingham Post Office is an example of a Victorian Regency style civic building whose original stylistic characteristics and overall form have been altered and impacted by successive external changes, the post office nevertheless makes a contribution to the aesthetic values and historic character of the immediate streetscape context. Through its scale, siting and verandahed two-storey form, the post office also complements the adjoining former School of Arts building. The presentation of the post office is additionally advantaged through its setting facing the central parklands opposite; the latter also provide for unencumbered and distant views of the historic building (criterion e).
 
The curtilage includes the title block/allotment of the property. The significant components of Wingham Post Office are the main post office building, including the additions made to the building up until c. 1909-11 when it largely assumed its current appearance, and incorporating the brick rear wing and free-standing hipped roof brick toilet. There are a number of later skillion-roofed timber additions which are of lesser or no significance; and a carport and brick telephone exchange building of more recent origin, which is set back and to the south of the post office, which are not significant.
Official Values
Criterion A Processes
Wingham Post Office, originally constructed in 1884 to a design by New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet, has been at the centre of postal services and communications within the town for over 120 years. The early additions to the building, in the period up until c.1911, added amenities and enhanced the services, and help demonstrate the importance of the facility to the town and its comparatively early adaptation to the evolving local postal and communication needs. The post office’s prominence within the townscape, including its setting facing the central parklands opposite, draws attention to the civic building and its still recognisable post office role. These attributes of the building enhance its historical value.
Criterion E Aesthetic characteristics
While Wingham Post Office is an example of a Victorian Regency style civic building whose original stylistic characteristics and overall form have been altered and impacted by successive external changes, the post office nevertheless makes a contribution to the aesthetic values and historic character of the immediate streetscape context. Through its scale, siting and verandahed two-storey form, the post office complements the adjoining former School of Arts building. The presentation of the post office is also advantaged through its setting facing the central parklands opposite; the latter also provide for unencumbered and distant views of the historic building.
Criterion G Social value
Wingham Post Office derives some social value from its role as an important public building and focus of postal and communication services in the town for over 120 years, with this value enhanced through its prominent siting, aesthetic streetscape contribution, and recognisable role as an historic public building. The post office is also promoted in local heritage walks, as one of the valued historic buildings in the town.
Description
Wingham Post Office, the original component of which dates from the 1880s, faces west across Wynter Street, on a steadily sloping site near a turning-point intersection of the Pacific Highway and one block from the Manning River. It is a combined 1880s core with an overlay added principally to the ground floor in the Federation period.
 
A pre-1900 photograph shows the building as originally designed, with two-storeys, a simple rectangular cube volume, post office below and quarters mostly above, with a living and dining room at the rear ground floor behind the post office, and services in the outbuildings behind. The verandah and balcony balustrade and frieze were all in cast-iron lace, and framed with cast-iron posts. The first floor verandah was added in 1890 (NSW Heritage Database). The upper verandah roof is separate from the main roof, and there are two heavily proportioned chimneys with vaulted vents projecting to the rear of the main roof hip. The roof has boxed eaves and a cladding in corrugated galvanised iron, and this extended to the balcony roof. The three front openings and the side windows were arched, as were all first floor windows apart from one on the rear (east) side at the centre. On the first floor these all had thick mouldings where the ground floor front arches were left plain. The walling is in English-bond face brick, and the verandah floor may have been concreted in the 1910 changes and is finished in asphalt to make it waterproof, as is common in post offices of this composite type. The ground floor loading door was the right (south side), distinct from a smaller central window above the PO boxes with two panes in a simple arch. The quarter’s door is located on the (north) side at the front and is under a separate porch. Two panels in the front walling may have been the outward letter-drop. The building sat in a yard flanking it on both sides and framed with a picket fence. The upper floor window detailing, the roof form and verandah remain intact from this phase; the soffit is boarded.
 
This early configuration was supported by at least some outbuildings, including a hipped-roof kitchen connected to the house with a covered walkway, a toilet with brick base and corrugated iron screens is thought to be from that period (NSW Heritage Database) and there were probably stables. The kitchen walkway has a concrete floor and steps, and a picketed balustrade. These may have been added later. Internally, the building retains a series of its 1880s architraves and skirtings, and the stair and coved ground floor ceilings appear to be from the 1880s as well (NSW Heritage Database).
 
The history of early additions is well documented. A wash-house was added in 1884, the PO boxes in 1890, and a bathroom with two earth closets in 1895-6. A new counter was added in 1904, the front lobby was altered, two quarters rooms were joined and a battery and store area were added. The most conspicuous alteration was in c. 1909-11 when the ground floor verandah was replaced by an arcaded brick block, adding more office and public space. These additions basically formed the present building, save for the bay added to the south end of the ground floor in the 1920s.
 
The resulting ground floor frontage is now marked by a face-brick block with four broad arches delineated by a change in brick shading. Going from north to south (left to right), there are two glazed arches, an open entry arch and a third glazed arch, believed to be a matching addition in the 1920s. The glazing is in a customary federation pattern, with two central mullions and a larger central pane (paired in one window, single in the two others) flanked by two smaller panes, finishing at a lower height. The upper central light is of eight panes in each arch, and the two upper flanking sets of five panes each. WINGHAM POST OFFICE is set out in metal lettering above the entry arch, and there is a light cornice in stucco. The three northern arches correspond to the frontage of the original building. The fourth, southernmost bay projects to one side and forms the front of a single storey extension running back the length of the earlier building, and across the rear. The rear elevation is the only side not marked by a succession of arches: it has square-headed windows and a centrally placed door, and appears to have subsumed earlier extensions and lean-tos. The north side is more heterogeneous, and is dominated by a large box-form porch with pitch roof and deep valances on its north and west sides. This is thought to have formed part of the Federation period additions. Behind that is another projecting wing enclosing an additional room. This space is entered from an outside patio.
 
The first floor quarters originally contained four bedrooms and a bathroom, lobby and stairwell. The ground floor had a fused lounge-living room area, in the manner of early open planning, behind a public, work and rear office area. A bedroom appears in a lean-to wing added at the northeast corner.
 
A series of alterations and additions have been made since 1911. Apart from the additional singlestorey south bay at the front and side, these include a probable bicycle shed in the early twentieth century, public phone installations, and a set of weatherboard additions to the rear including at least two weatherboard sheds and an attached carport. It is thought the southern end of the first floor verandah was enclosed against the weather at this time, with the installation of a waist-high brick wall, but open above that. The public area entry porch is finished in concrete. In 1983, a picket fence was reinstated and the light fittings were all renewed. The air conditioning ducts were installed beneath the original ceilings which were retained. The internal partitioning of the south end rear office was changed, and the former living and dining room was converted into a contractors’ room. An office, lunch room and kitchenette that were established in the rear ground floor room possibly in the 1960s or 1970s, and these were removed to enlarge the post office space. The first floor quarters were then converted to administrative office space. The bathroom was removed from the quarters at this point and converted to an extra administrative office. The lunchroom staff room is in the rear former Kitchen space, which is a separate roof room accessible from the back verandah. Toilets are located in rear yard outbuildings.
 
The NSW Heritage Database states that the major alterations to the building since then have been the removal of the first floor verandah weather screen, but leaving the half height brick wall in place, the introduction of a carport on the north-east corner of the building, and the completion of a conspicuous new building in red brick for Telstra (telephone exchange), which is set back and to the south.
 
Key areas/elements
• Relationship to surrounding streetscape and the large central park opposite.
• Original planning and form, especially the upper floor.
• Original or early exterior elements, the upper verandah, face brickwork and tuck pointed band,
arcade façade, side private residence entry porch, chimneys.
History
The first post office was established in Wingham in 1853, however this was replaced by the new post office designed by New South Wales Colonial Architect, James Barnet, and constructed on a portion of the Government reserve in 1883 by WT Smith, at a cost of £1,625. The postmaster, James Hodgins, moved into the new building on 27 June 1884. Alterations were undertaken and in 1884 a weatherboard washhouse was added. During the 1890s additions of a proper bathroom and a first floor verandah were undertaken. A battery and store room were added in 1903 and a front entrance lobby erected a year later. A manual telephone exchange was added in 1909-10 and the public space in the post office was extended to accommodate it. The builder was HW Alcorn of Taree. The alterations changed the front appearance of the post office considerably, with the space below the upper floor verandah in-filled with arcaded brick additions. In 1922 this was extended to the south. By 1923 a number of outbuildings had been added including linesmens’ offices and engineer’s room. The post office underwent a major renovation and refurbishment in 1983 (NSW Heritage Register).
Condition and Integrity
Good condition given age, programme changes and enlargement. This post office appears to be reasonably well maintained and has minimal defects.
 
The external changes are described above. External accretions include signage, pavements, ramped access and lighting.
 
On the ground floor many refurbishments and alterations have occurred with changed functions, but overall legibility of the Federation-era works remain. Fire places are still in-situ, but covered in. Original ceiling lines have been retained. The rendered walls with expressed stopped ‘ovolo’ mouldings are visible.
 
Internally changes on the upper floor have been minimal except for the apparent removal of a bathroom, with the upper floor interior space being more original and intact. Skirtings, doors, windows, architraves, wall vents and fire place surrounds, generally remain.
 
Original fabric
Structural frame: concrete footings, timber framed floors on brick piers. Brick external walls.
External outbuildings and some additions of timber-framed weatherboard clad construction.
External walls: English bond generally, textured face brick to front additions around the ground floor.
Original walls face brickwork, not textured. Walling painted over at upper level and most of the east facing walls.
Internal walls: Most are brick walls, rendered and painted, with some early detailing in render including stopped ‘ovolo’ corners. Timber-stud framed and plasterboard lined internal walling more recent.
Floor: Timber flooring generally under layers of carpet and linoleum. Some sections concreted: mainly rear and front ground floor verandah. Upper verandah finished with layered asphalt or bituminous coating. Carpeted throughout upstairs, and in retail and rear office areas on ground floor. Sheet vinyl in lunch room, private box area and storage areas; tiles in wet areas. Perimeter concrete apron path around PO.
Ceiling: Generally flush plasterboard set between main beams, except in main public space where it is flush throughout. Ceiling lights are generally surface mounted, of various ages from egg crate fluorescent diffusers to flush diffusers, and some pendant spot lights in public space. Air conditioning is exposed surface rectangular ducting on the ground floor except in the public space which is air conditioned through grills to the side. Upstairs, wall mounted a/c split-system in one room.
Roof: Most of the roof is colorbond corrugated custom orb iron but colours vary with date installed: cream or red. Some galvanised iron on outbuildings, but only small sections.
Other: [Property Valuation Report, 2005]
 
Summary of development and/or alteration
Construction in 1884. 1890s (first floor verandah and bath room), 1904 (internal alterations), 1910s (major ground floor alterations and additions with extended enclosed space below verandah), 1922-3 (southern side extensions and outbuildings), 1983 (renovations), 1993 (internal alterations and additions).
Location
Wynter Street, Wingham, comprising the whole of Lot 20 DP773785.
Bibliography
References
GS Warmington and AC Ward et al., Australia Post Survey of Historic Properties in New South Wales, Volume 2, 1990; Suters Architects Snell, Taree Heritage Study, no date; NSW State Heritage Register, SHR 01419; Savills, APPD Property Valuation Report, June 2005; ‘Wingham’, in the ‘Travel’ section of the Sydney Morning Herald, online at www.smh.com.au. any architectural drawings, historic images or other primary sources relating to the place eg archival records
 
Photographic images
Pre 1890, 1911, pre 1922, post 1922,1930, 1938, 1966, 2008
 
National Archive records
Plans of Wingham Post Office, Series Number SP1107/1, Barcode 1818622; Wingham Post Office, Series Number C3629, Barcode 3261995; Wingham Post Office specifications, Series Number SP155/1, Barcodes 1687609, 1687610, 1687611 & 1687639; Wingham Post Office file, Series Number SP32/1, Barcode 318018; Wingham Post Office, Series Number SP19/1, Barcode 1839458 & 1840980; Wingham Post Office, Series Number MP33/1, Barcode 6000772

Report Produced  Fri Aug 1 07:11:03 2014