The Wentworth Park light rail stop is within the Half Way quarry site

Half Way Quarry

Half Way - between Miller Street and Pyrmont Bridge Road, Pyrmont
Quarrying of what later became known as the "Half Way" quarry began in the 1850s. At this time, stone from the higher levels of the hillside was extracted. 20 years later, Robert Saunders began introducing new technologies which led to the re-opening of many quarries which had been abandoned where all the rock to ground level had been extracted. By using steam-powered cranes and specially imported sawing machines with steam driven iron blades, Saunders was later able to extract the harder stone found below ground level from the abandoned sites.

Robert Saunders began quarrying at his father's quarry at the foot of Miller Street which was nicknamed "Paradise" and its neighbour ,"Half-way", named after the degree of difficulty encountered in extracting the harder rock. This quarry's sandstone was used in for the outside walls of many of Sydney's sandstone buildings. In later years, its harder rock from below ground level was used specifically for the decorative carvings on buildings like the General Post Office, the Queen Victoria Building, Sydney Town Hall and others.

Today the light rail passes through part of the Half Way quarry site.

Buildings made from its sandstone



Treasury Building, Macquarie Street, Sydney (1849): One of the first of a number of Government buildings on Bridge Street built of Pyrmont sandstone. This two storey example of the Classical Revival style was designed by Mortimer Lewis. Adjoining it is the Premier's Office, another imposing sandstone building. It was designed by Colonial Architect Walter L Vernon and completed in 1896. Both buildings were cleverly incorporated into the 28 level, 530 room Intercontinental Hotel which was completed in 1986.




Sydney Town Hall, George Street, Sydney (1869-89): One of Sydney's most elaborate buildings, a remarkable feat considering it was created by a succession of architects who strove to outdo each other with their own individual ideas of what the end result should be. The first was RJ Wilson who was replaced initially by Albert Bond when Wilson's design proved impractical. Bond completed the vestibule with its crystal chandelier, stained glass windows and ornate plaster work; the Bradridge brothers added the clock tower in 1884 and three other architects were employed to complete the Centennial Hall with its coffered zinc ceiling and mighty 8,500 pipe organ. The exterior stonework includes a number of sandstone lions, one of which, near the main entrance facing George Street, has one eye shut. This oddity, not discovered until the building was completed, recalls the head stonemason's habit of closing one eye when checking the line of stonework.




General Post Office (George Street Section), George Street, Sydney (1864-87): At the opening of the first stage, the GPO was described by the Postmaster General as a building that "will not be surpassed by any other similar structure in the southern hemisphere". Built on a grand scale and at huge expense, it dominated the streetscape and skyline for decades and symbolised the prosperity Australia was enjoying in the wake of the gold rush and the economic boom it had fostered. For Sydneysiders, it symbolised their city in the same way that the Houses of Parliament symbolise London and the Eiffel Tower, Paris, and remained its most well known landmark until the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932) and the Sydney Opera House (1971) stole the limelight. When its tower was completed in the 1870s it became Sydney's tallest structure (73 metres) and remained so until 1939 when the AWA Tower, at 111 metres, took over the honour.

Built of stone quarried from the rocky escarpments of Pyrmont in grand Classical Renaissance style. The Martin Place section was constructed between 1866 and 1874, the Pitt Street section being added between 1881 and 1885. The controversial relief figures in the stonework were created by Tomaso Sani, and were intended to represent Australians.


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