Balmain Power Station

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Balmain Power Station
Balmain Power Station 1.JPG
Salvaged letters from the original building
Country Australia
Location Iron Cove
Coordinates 33°51′35″S 151°09′57″E / 33.85972°S 151.16583°E / -33.85972; 151.16583Coordinates: 33°51′35″S 151°09′57″E / 33.85972°S 151.16583°E / -33.85972; 151.16583
Decommission date 1976
Power generation
Nameplate capacity 107 MW

The Balmain Power Station was located at Iron Cove, 4 km (2 mi) from Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. The station no longer exists and residential properties now occupy the site. This plant is often confused with the White Bay Power Station, the remains of which are still standing in Rozelle.


The pump house, built in 1934.

In 1903, the Public Health Department directed Balmain Council to find alternatives to the open tip dumping of local rubbish. The council invited tenders for a combined garbage destructor and power plant and on 30 September 1909, the newly constructed power station 'A' commenced operation. Power came from 2 Belliss and Morcom high speed engines coupled to 5000 volt BTH generators. The output was 500KW from one machine and 250KW from the other. Steam came from 2 Babcox and Wilcox chain grate coal fired boilers plus the destructor boiler. In 1913 2 Willans & Robinson 900KW turbo generators were added. These were further accompanied by a Curtis-BTH 2.5 MW turbine(No1) in 1914. A Curtis-BTH 3MW machine(No2) was added in 1922. A 7.5MW Fraser & Chalmers machine was added in 1923. Steam came from additional Babcox and Wilcox chain grate boilers. This brought "A" Station capacity to 15MW. In 1928 a 10MW Curtis - BTH machine(No3) was installed and in 1935 an 18.75MW AEG turbine(No4) was added bringing total capacity to 41MW.

'B' Station:- A second phase of construction took place between 1940 and 1950. A9.4MW English Electric back pressure turbine(No5) was installed. This was a high pressure turbine that sent its exiting steam to the "A" Station lower pressure turbines. 1952 saw the addition of a 25MW Parsons steam turbine(No6). Two more Parsons 25MW machines(No7+No8) were added by 1956. Steam for machines 5–8 was supplied by 4 high pressure Babcox and Wilcox pulverized coal boilers. This doubled the generation capacity of the plant, bringing it to 126.2MW.

The original station was a private facility, owned by the Electric Light and Power Supply Corporation (EL&PSC), which supplied electricity to consumers and businesses in Balmain, Leichhardt, Ashfield, Newtown and Petersham. It also supplied power to large enterprises in the local area including Mort's Dock and the Balmain Colliery.

In 1950, The Electricity Commission (Balmain Electric Light Company Purchase) Act was passed to embody the acquisition of the plant by the New South Wales Electricity Commission. A legal dispute over the valuation of the power station then ensued which delayed the sale until January 1957 when the plant changed hands for £600,000. The plant continued to supply power until 1976 when it was decommissioned.


The former administration block.

The station was demolished in 1998 to make way for the Balmain Shores apartment complex which now occupies the site. Prior to demolition the 'B' Station was used as the set of an episode of the ABC programme Police Rescue. Only two of the original buildings remain as part of the new development:

Power Station 'A' Pump House[edit]

This 1934 building is located on the foreshore and was used as a pump house for the Balmain power station. Cool water was drawn from the river and pumped to the station using electric pumps. The water was used to cool condensers before being pumped back to the river.

None of the original machinery exists in the well preserved red brick building, however at the eastern end hang the original copper letters spelling the words "Power Station" which were salvaged from the main building prior to demolition.

Administration Block[edit]

The former administration block of the Power Station was built in the 1930s and housed offices for the EL&PSC. The building has since been renamed The Villa and forms part of the Balmain Shores complex. It was declared a heritage building prior to the official re-opening in March 2003.

See also[edit]


  • State Records NSW, Electricity Commission of New South Wales, Agency Detail
  • Solling, M; Reynolds, P; Leichhardt: On the margins of the city, Allen & Unwin, 1997, ISBN 1-86448-408-X.
  • Pacific Power, Demolition of Balmain Power Station, Rozelle. Statement of Environmental Effects, Pacific Power Services, October 1994.
  • The Balmain Association, Peninsula Observer, Volume 28, Number 6, Issue 226, December 1993.
  • NSW Government - Department of Planning, Harbour Circle Walk - Loop and Alternate Walks
  • On-site Information Plaques, Balmain Shores Apartment Complex, Rozelle, NSW.

External links[edit]