The Cooperage, Darling Square

Photo showing the range of wares made at Cormack’s Cooperage


Casey & Lowe were commissioned by Lendlease as archaeological consultants to manage the archaeology of the Darling Harbour Live project.

Lendlease as part of the Darling Harbour Live (DHL) consortium, redeveloped the convention, exhibition and entertainment centre facilities at Darling Harbour, Sydney. The previous facilities were built in the 1980s and have limitations in the ability to service the contemporary exhibition and convention industry. Darling Harbour Live, formerly the Sydney International Convention, Exhibition and Entertainment Precinct (SICEEP), is a State Significant Development (SSD), SSD 6011.

These results relate to The Haymarket West component of the Darling Harbour Live project specifically the South West Plot.

1892 plan with the Cormack’s Centennial Cooperage on the western side of Burns Street (underlined in red). The land with the galvanized iron shed shown on the plan was also leased by Cormack from 1882–1907



1815 – Dickson dams the head of Darling Harbour creating a mill pond for use in his nearby steam mill operation.

1855–57 – Dickson’s millpond in-filled and the land subdivided.

1865 – A stone dyke is built across the head of the harbour north of Dickson’s subdivision.

1860s– 1870s – Government reclamation- Part of the reclamation associated with the expansion of the railway goods yard at Darling Harbour. Government subdivision of reclaimed land at the head of Darling Harbour. Up till this time the study area is in the harbour.

1870–1871 – Government auction of land in the subdivision.

1871 – Cormack purchases Lots 24 and 25 of the Government subdivision.

1872 – Cormack Brothers Cooperage begins operations at Darling Harbour.

1882 – The cooperage building is ‘pulled down’.

1882 – Cormack sells the cooperage site Lots 24 and 25 to woolbroker John Bridge.

1882 – John Bridge constructs a large two-storey brick structure as a woolstore on the site.

1913 – The woolstore property is resumed by the Railway Commissioners–various tenants.

1930s – The site is resumed by the Council of the City of Sydney – various tenants.

1960s – The woolstore building remains standing at least until the 1960s when it is demolished and the area is used as an open air carpark.

1980s – The multi-storey Entertainment Centre carpark is constructed over the site on concrete piles.

2014 – The multi-storey Entertainment Centre carpark is demolished.


The archaeological excavation at the South West Plot, Cooperage site, Darling Harbour, Sydney, produced evidence for the 1860s-government reclamation of Darling Harbour, the 1872 Cormack Cooperage and the 1882 woolstore. The archaeological remains included structural evidence for the 1880s woolstore and an abundance of artefactual evidence for the 1870s cooperage manufacturing.
The following is a summary of the main findings:

  • Original foreshore estuarine sands and mud flats, dating from the late Holocene, the last 10,000 years (Phase 1).
  • Reclamation fills associated with the modification of the foreshore in the 1860s–1870 (Phase 2).
  • Working surfaces, accumulation deposits, levelling fills and dumps associated with the 1872 cooperage (Phase 3).
  • Structural evidence, footings, pier bases and demolition debris associated with the 1882 woolstore building (Phase 4).
  • Evidence for 1960s services and surfaces associated with the open-air carpark (Phase 5 & 6).




The photos used in this report are by Casey & Lowe. All other images are from SLNSW

Photo of Hay Street earlier than c.1947 showing the 30–36 Hay Street Stores building arrowed in yellow. The railway line is in the foreground and the Market Building is in the middle ground. Series 06: Sydney views, ca. 1916–1947 / photographed by Arthur Ernest Foster. ON 30 / Box 31–33ON 30 / Box 91.

The Cooperage, Darling Square