Friday 12 May 2017

ASHET visit to Ryde Pumping Station on 12 May

ASHET members and friends are invited to join in a guided tour of the Ryde Water Pumping Station at West Ryde on Friday 12 May 2017. The tour will start at 2:00pm and conclude at about 3:30pm.  Prior to this tour, you are invited to join us at 12:00 noon for lunch at the Palm Court Bistro in the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club.

Guided tour of the site

The guided tour will include the railway siding where coal was delivered to the Station, the coal bins, the massive boiler hall, and the Sydney Water photo archives housed here. Extensive restoration work has been carried out to preserve the historically important features of structures on the site.

This tour is one of several public tours organised by Sydney Water to occur during Sydney Heritage Festival, and it will be adapted to meet the interests of ASHET members. 


An extract from the statement of significance for this site reads: “Ryde Water Pumping Station and site is of high cultural significance to the State of NSW for the important role it serves in the history of water supply in Sydney. [It] … is a late and representative example of a Federation Free style utility building. [It] … is representative of large steam powered water pumping stations used in the late 19th and early 20th century. The item features evidence of numerous past and present technological processes …”

Directions for train travellers

From the platforms at West Ryde Train Station, use the pedestrian bridge to walk East to Ryedale Road. Cross over Ryedale Road, walk about 100m North to the junction with Wattle Street, then enter the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club. Sign in and go to the Palm Court Bistro.

After lunch, we will leave at 1:30pm to walk South along Ryedale Road to its merger with Victoria Road, then cross over at Hermitage Road to the Pumping Station entrance.

Directions for drivers

Turn North off Victoria Road into Hermitage Road then West to Ryedale Road where free parking is usually available at carparks near the train station, or in the Leagues Club carpark. Walk along Ryedale Road to the Ryde-Eastwood Leagues Club.


This group size for this tour is limited to 25, so please book early. Send a text message to Rob at 0418 409 743 to book places in the ASHET group. There is no charge for the tour. Also, please indicate whether you will be joining us for lunch at the Palm Court Bistro in the Leagues Club (at your own expense).


To ensure your safety during the tour, please wear enclosed shoes. The Sydney Water guides will issue safety helmets at the beginning of the tour.

Tuesday 23 May 2017

Woomera and the Anglo-Australian Joint Project – Talk by Kerrie Dougherty

Woomera Rocket Range! Once it was a name synonymous with high-tech weaponry, Cold War intrigue and the excitement of spaceflight. To mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the Woomera Range, space historian Kerrie Dougherty will present an overview of its origin and operation under the Anglo-Australian Joint Project for guided weapons development, from 1947-1980. She will also discuss some of the security issues surrounding Woomera and how the missile research there drew early space-related projects to Australia in the 1950s and 60s.

Kerrie Dougherty is an independent space historian, author and freelance curator. Formerly Curator of Space Technology at the Powerhouse Museum, with over 30 years’ museum experience, Kerrie is also a lecturer in Space and Society studies for the International Space University. A Member of the International Academy of Astronautics, she also serves on their History of Astronautics Committee. In 2015 she was the winner of the Sacknoff Prize for Space History.

Venue: History House, 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Time: 5.30 for 6 pm

Cost: Includes light refreshments on arrival; RAHS and ASHET members $10, others $12

Bookings: phone RAHS on (02) 9247 8001 or email

Thursday 8 June 2017

Saving the Powerhouse Museum – Talk by Dr Lindsay Sharp

The Powerhouse Museum has been a much-loved part of Sydney’s cultural landscape since 1988 but its origins lie in the Sydney International Exhibition of 1879.  The rise of the Powerhouse Museum as a world class institution of decorative arts, science, technology, design and social history drew on a rich tradition of collecting, researching and teaching.  The Powerhouse, the principal public face of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS), has become inseparable from inner city Ultimo, the home of its collections since 1893.

In February 2015, the NSW State Government announced its intention to relocate the Powerhouse from Ultimo to Parramatta as part of a new arts and cultural precinct in Western Sydney and to sell the Powerhouse site.  Public reaction to this announcement was mixed but serious concerns were soon raised.  This led to the establishment, in June 2016, of an Upper House Inquiry into Museums and Galleries.  At the time of writing, the report of the Inquiry is with the Government.

In this talk, Dr Lindsay Sharp presents a forensic analysis of how the normal processes of government and due diligence can easily be subverted by political agendas.  It also examines governance issues, the complex nature of museums and their critical relationships with their many stakeholders and the importance of the public voice in changing outcomes.  Dr Sharp will also look at some relevant projects from overseas that will assist planning for more creative, community focused museum options for Parramatta. Lastly, the current state of the “Powerhouse to Parramatta” proposal will be discussed, within the context of the potential benefits of consultation and collaboration.

Dr Lindsay Sharp is a museologist, consultant and writer and was the founding director of the Powerhouse Museum (1979–1988). Born in Britain and raised in Australia, he received his doctorate in the History of Ideas at Oxford in 1976. Other major directorships have included the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada (1997–2000) and the National Museum of Science and Industry, UK, where he led the team that replanned the institutions within the entire Science Museum group from 2000 to 2005.   In recent years, Dr Sharp has consulted widely in Asia, Australasia and the USA, assisting cultural organisations to engage with broader audiences and become more sustainable. Dr Sharp, assisting Ms Kylie Winkworth (a former MAAS Trustee), prompted the holding of an Upper House Inquiry into Museums and Galleries, commencing in June, 2016.

Venue: History House, 133 Macquarie Street, Sydney

Time: 5.30 for 6 pm

Cost: Includes light refreshments on arrival; RAHS and ASHET members $10, others $12

Bookings: phone RAHS on (02) 9247 8001 or email