Monday, 31 October 2016

1970: Plans for Sydney's "Landmark" MSB Ports Tower is unveiled

As you may have noticed as of late the MSB Port Tower is being pulled down after four decades of service in controlling port traffic on Sydney Harbour.

Demolition Works in October 2016. The photo was taken by the Author.

But how did it come about? Changes to communication with ships in the harbour facilitated the need but also a tower would give greater visibility when compared to Circular Quay where they were based at the time of its announcement in July 1970. It was hoped to be completed in 1971 but did not open until 1974. 

Source: Anon. 1970. "Landmark: 200ft. port tower for Millers Pt." The Daily Telegraph, July 17:7. 

When completed the structure raised 87 metres above sea level.

The MSB Port Tower just prior to its demolition (2015). The photo was taken by the Author. 

Last year, the NSW State Government announced its demolition as it did not fit in with the reconstructed headland at Barangaroo but the relocation of port activity from Sydney Harbour to Port Botany along with the relocation of vessel operations to Port Botany in 2011 made the structure redundant. 

The National Trust opposed its demolition as it was a reminder of the harbour's past as a trading port and had listed the structure on its register in 2010. 

And where do I stand on its demolition? For starters, it was not worthy of heritage listing as it as not in an architectural sense worth retaining. Does it fit in with the surroundings? No. It towers over the terraces of Millers Point and the park.

But there was an opportunity lost to redevelop it. I suggested at a Barangaroo Community Consultation Forum in Caringbah in 2010 to turn it into an observation tower. Peter Holmes-A-Court who was (quietly) seated at my table liked the idea and suggested a staircase be built on its exterior. If no use could be found, then pull it down.