Power Plant Conversions, Museums & Historical Sites
Australia & New Zealand
Brisbane Powerhouse (Australia)

This arts and cultural center on the north bank of Brisbane River comprises the main buildings of the former New Farm coal-fired power station. The structure was designed by Architect Roy Rusden Ogg. The plant was first commissioned in Jun 1928 by the newly-formed Greater Brisbane City Council. It was originally used to power Brisbane's tram system and, in later years, some production was sold into the local and regional power grid. In 1961, The state government established a single electricity authority for South East Queensland and, in 1963, the BCC sold New Farm powerhouse to the state-owned Southern Electrical Authority. The power plant was closed in 1971 and for about 20yrs it was used as a governmet and defence department depot and storage facility, although it was also used by squatters and for various gatherings. In 1989, the building was returned to the city.

After a period of evaluation and development the main buildings were modified for reuse as a cultural center with performance spaces and related features. The site was reopened in May 2000. In 2006, another major series of renovations took place. Today, the Brisbane Powerhouse has two theaters, outdoor plazas, a bar and restaurant, and other spaces available for multiple and municipal uses.

Photograph by Adz (wikipedia)
Posted 9 Nov 2013

Duck Reach (Australia)

Duck Reach Power Station was built and operated by the City of Launceston in Tasmania. It is considered the first publicly-owned hydroelectric plant in the Southern Hemisphere. The power station was built in 1895 and closed in 1955. The first equipment included five 15-kW DC dynamos and three 120-KW AC alternators with turbines built by Gilbert Gilkes and Siemens electrical equipment. In 1906, the AC equipment was mostly removed and replaced by four 445-hp Francis turbines from Kolben and Co, Prague, each driving a 300-kW alternator again built by Siemens. In 1926, an additional 800-kW set was added supplied by a new flume and aqueduct running from the South Esk River The powerhouse is now a museum and interpretive centre. One of the original 15-kW dynamos is preserved and on display.

Photograph by Peripitus (wikipedia)
Posted 15 Feb 2010

Kingston Power House (Australia)

The coal-fired Power House in Kingston, a Canberra suburb, began construction in 1913 and suuplied its first power to the Federal Capital in Aug 1915. The site on the Molonglo River was selected in 1911 by the Director-General of Works, Colonel Percy Owen. In Jun 1911, the Department of Home Affairs commissioned F W Clements, Chief Engineer and General Manager of the Melbourne Electric Supply Co, to design the steam power stationfor 3-phase, 5kV distribution for a maximum load of 25,000 persons. The Department designed and constructed the building from 1912. After dry-pressed shale bricks disintegrated, unreinforced concrete was used for the cladding. Initial power was provided by four B&W stoker boilers feeding two Bellis and Morcom triple expansion engines coupled to 600-kW Brush alternators. A single Robey-Hall twin cylinder steam engine driving a 150-kW alternator was used for light-load periods. Total cost of the station including the plant was A£ 76,861. In Oct 1927, a 1.5-MW BTH turbo-alternator was added and the 150-kW steam engine discarded. In 1939, the Kingston plant (aka Canberra Power Sation) was enlarged with two more B&W boilers and two 1.5-MW Brush-Ljungstrom turbogenerators relocated from Port Kembla. The power station was put into reserve in 1929, but reactivated for periods between 1936 and 1942 and between 1948 and 1957. All existing machinery was sold for scrap in 1965.

The Power House was the first permanent public building in the Federal Capital and and, with its associated Fitters Workshop, are notable examples of early 20th century industrial architecture. The Power House was the first building in the Federal Capital designed by John Smith Murdoch and the building retains various internal fittings from its operational days. After final closure, the building was used for storage and vehicle service until around 2000. In 2005, project architect Jocelyn Jackson and her associates set out to convert the powerhouse building into the Canberra Glassworks, which opened in May 2007. An A$11.5mn budget was set aside for glass furnaces, a gallery, cafe, shop and office space, as well as other glassmaking equipment. The main building is now listed by the ACT Heritage Council. Background information courtesy of Canberra's Engineering Heritage website, the Sidney Morning Herald website, and the Institution of Engineers Australia Canberra Division “Nomination of the Kingston Power Station for an Historic Engineering Marker Plaque,” Jun 1997.

Photograph by Bidgee (wikipedia)
Posted 1 Nov 2015

Orion Powerhouse (New Zealand)

On 11 Sep 1911, electricity was supplied for the first time to Akaroa from an SHP below L’Aube Hill. Akaroa is a small town on Banks Peninsula in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand and the second-hand plant was purchased from the UK. A penstock from a small reservoir was supplied initially from the Balguerie Stream and a 35-kW Boving & Co pelton wheel, GE alternator, and switchboard were housed in this small, brick building.

A larger addition to the rear of the original powerhouse was built several years later to house a gas engine and workshop. The gas engine was needed because the flow of water was inadequate for year-round supply. Power from the Lake Coleridge HPP reached Akaroa in June 1923, but the generating plant remained in supplementary use until the 1955 when the machinery was shutdown. The building and equipment was sold to the Maruia Springs Hotel and apprarently operated until a fire in 1980. The facilty was rebuilt and ran until 1995.

In 1974, a local Swiss jeweller named Kobi Bosshard, established a gallery in the empty building and it also began to be used for concerts. In 1977, an incorporated society took over running the building as a gallery and concert venue. About 20yrs later, it was returned to Akaroa Civic Trust. In Sep 2003, and with financial support from Orion New Zeland Ltd, the T/G set was re-installed in the powerhouse in its original position but in its 1923 configuration. The building now doubles as small museum of technology and as a gallery and concert venue.

Photograph courtesy and some information courtesy of Akaroa Civic Trust
Posted 30 Nov 2014

Updated 04-Nov-2015