St Marys Industrial Heritage Study

St Marys Industrial Heritage Study

First and Last Hotel
Located near the corner of the Great Western Road & Queen Street, St Marys.
Penrith City Library Photographic Collection.

All the information in this page is extracted from the following publication:
Green A. & Thorp W. (1987).
“St Marys Industrial Heritage Study”. Prepared for Penrith City Council.
This page was initially prepared and edited by Behzad Mirzaei,
History Student of the University of Western Sydney, February 2001
Subsequent editing has been undertaken by Research Services, Penrith City Library


This study has been undertaken to identify and assess those industrial sites at St Marys which date from the first industrial period leading up to 1914. To achieve this objective it has been necessary to consider the history of the early industrial development of St Marys and to place this within the context of the broader industrial and economic trends of the State during that period.

It was found that industrial activity commenced in a small way in the 1840s and 50s when St Marys was first established as a roadside village. The introduction of the railway in the early 1860s provided the catalyst for significant industrial growth during the second half of-the century, but this was also part of a larger state-wide swing to free enterprise and massive industrial development.

Seven distinct industries were developed in St Marys during the period covered by this report – Tanneries, sawmills, coach and wagon works, brickyards, cattle saleyards, pulp and canning works and, briefly, wool-washing establishment (for the location of these industries please refer to the map). The development of each of these and the industrial traditions surrounding them were reviewed and the remaining physical evidence identified.

This resource was then assessed within its local and state context and recommendations were prepared for its conservation and interpretation, with particular reference to the proposed walking trail along the South Creek Corridor.

It has been concluded that very few of the early industrial sites have retained standing structures or are likely to contain significant archaeological evidence. Of those that do the majority are tanning sites. However, evidence still remains of the associated residential development, particularly in the area south of the Great Western Highway and west of Mamre Road.

The significance of the industrial sites at St Marys is two-fold. They are important in understanding and demonstrating the development of the town and the region. The specific sites, regardless of the presence of physical remains are significant by association with important events and figures in the town. In addition, some of the sites contain valuable research potential in the form of sub-surface archaeological remains. This latter could be exploited to investigate the form, function and layout of specific industries, as well as local variations in established industrial practices.

Study Area

St Marys is located approximately 43 kilometres west of Sydney in the City of Penrith.

For the purposes of historical research the Study Area was taken to mean the whole of the village of St Marys as it was in 1914.

In investigating the potential for an historic trail linking the early industrial sites with South Creek Historic Park priority was given to the South Creek Corridor, but recommendations were also made for areas outside of this Corridor where it was considered that this would make a major contribution to the public interpretation of St Marys’ industrial history.

Methodology & Format of Report

The principal components of the study were the historical research, fieldwork, analysis and the preparation of conservation and management recommendations related to the development of historical walking trails through the town.

Historical Research

The principal sources used for the historical research were Penrith City Library, the State Library and Land Titles Office. Other sources consulted during the course of the study included the Royal Australian Historical Society, State Railway Archives, State Archives Office, and the Penrith City Council Archives. Mr Bert Evans of the St Marys Historical Society provided access to the comprehensive notes he has prepared as part of an oral history programme related to the development of St Marys.

Fieldwork and Analysis

This historical information was used as the basic investigative tool to define both the location of early industrial sites and the nature and extent of these industries. Each of these sites was inspected and the physical evidence assessed against the available documentary evidence. This webpage contains the location of each of the known industrial sites, summarises the historical information relating to their physical development and layout, describes the physical evidence identified during the site visits and outlines the potential archaeological resource. In order to determine the latter, research was undertaken to provide a broader database which outlined the historical traditions which surround each of these industries and defined the typical site characteristics which might be expected to be found.

The significance of these sites was then assessed within their local and state context. Both of the authors of this report were involved in the preparation of the Heritage Study of the City of Penrith and this provided the basis for an assessment of their local context. Their significance within a wider context was then assessed by determining their place within the broader economic and industrial trends of that period and by assessing their scientific research potential. An extended database was prepared by identifying comparable industrial sites which have been included on the National Trust Industrial Sites Register, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW) Historic Sites Register and in relevant archaeological literature.

The information about St Marys Industrial Heritage is categorised into the following pages: