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The Cumberland Newspaper site being developed. The Cumberland Newspaper site being developed. Featured
11 February 2016 Posted by 


What lies beneath Cumberland building

By Di Bartok

AN interesting past is being unearthed on the site of the former engine-room of local news-gathering - Cumberland Newspapers in Macquarie St Parramatta - as new owners Dyldam plan a towering future for the land.

While most people will remember 142-154 Macquarie St as the headquarters of Cumberland Newspapers (later Cumberland Courier Newspapers and then NewsLocal), the site has a colourful history dating back to 1808 when a William Pascoe Crook built a cottage on one of the parcels of land.

And the foundations of that cottage and subsequent houses are being unearthed by heritage consultants Casey and Lowe, commissioned by Dyldam, the prolific Parramatta construction company that bought 142-154 Macquarie St from NewsLocal last year.

Dyldam snapped up the prime site for an undisclosed sum  after NewsLocal abandoned plans to rebuild the ageing two storey building in favour of moving the community newspaper chain headquarters to News Corp’s head office in Holt St, Surry Hills (while moving the Parramatta Advertiser to another Parramatta office).

NewsLocal general manager Michael Wilkins said the building was in desperate need of a rebuild and the company had submitted plans to Parramatta Council for a major redevelopment.

“That involved keeping the Parramatta staff there and moving some people from Holt St to the new building as well but the cost involved was too high so the decision was made to redevelop Holt St,” Mr Wilkins told WSBA.

The Cumberland building dates back to the early 1960s around about the time that Rupert Murdoch bought the company from its founder Earl White.

It housed the administration, editorial and sales offices and printing presses of Cumberland and had gone through many internal refits over the years.

But the bland, yellow-hued exterior remained largely unchanged.

That exterior has recently been demolished, leaving the rear factory where printing presses remain as Dyldam finalises its plans with Parramatta Council - and undertakes the obligatory archeological dig.

But, based on its previously-stated intentions, Dyldam plans to build a mixed-use development, although the company does not want to reveal much more at this stage.

A source close to Dyldam revealed that the company wanted  to build as high as 60 stories, making the development an anchor point to the lower end of Parramatta’s burgeoning CBD.

What the final building looks like depends on a design competition that will end on February 22.

Three companies are in contention in the competition - PTW, Denton Corker Marshall and AJ+C.

On March 5,  the architects present their designs to the panel, with the winning design selected a week later.

After that, Dyldam will be ready to start preparing a DA for submission to Parramatta Council and we will have some idea what building will sit on that iconic site.

Dyldam is keen to acknowledge the colonial history of the site with the remains of the early houses retained within the development.

A company spokeswoman told WSBA that, apart from the building foundations, artefacts found include fragments of ceramics, metal and glass, coins and pipe stems.

“One interesting artefact within the fill was a carved bone pipe tamper dating back to the late 19th century,” the spokeswoman said.

The archeological team will spend the next 12 months cataloguing the rich find.

What lies beneath 142-154 Macquarie St

●    1804 the site named on plan as  the Soldiers District.1
●    1806 leases to Sarah Byrne and one to William Pascoe Crook
●    1808 Crook’s house and premises advertised for sale
●    1809 Elizabeth Broughton buys Crook’s property
●    1823 plan indicates Crook’s house demolished
●    1831 several outbuildings and possible cesspit shown on plan
●    1857 ‘two neat little cottages with garden front and back’ sold
●     1860s house/shop build
●    1877-82 row of terraces built facing Harris St
●    1891 two semi-detached stone cottages built
●    1919 new brick house built
●    1920s new building
●    1950s building that became Cumberland Newspapers


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