Sydney Architecture Images- Central Business District

St Barnabas (Anglican)


Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp


cnr Parramatta Road and Mountain Street, Broadway


Original building: Built in Gothic revival style, St Barnabas' was built in 1858-59 to designs by the architect Arthur Crux. Edmund Blacket added to it in 1872 and a vestry was added in 1876.
Replacement 2007 (600-seat worship space, a multi-purpose hall, administrative offices and meeting rooms, and underground parking for up to 80 cars).


Victorian Academic Gothic


Original- rendered stone. Replacement- clad steel. $18 million


The new building (FJMT, 2008):
From the FJMT website:

The design is sympathetic to the site and its history, while offering an outstanding new building for the Church and the community... The new building will support the work and outreach of St Barnabas over the coming decades... [and] will make a significant contribution to local communities and will enhance the streetscape of Broadway and Mountain Streets.
— Ian Powell, Senior Minister at St Barnabas Church

fjmt won an invited competition to design the new St Barnabas Anglican Church. The existing building and adjacent community hall, located on Sydney’s busy Broadway, was destroyed by fire in May 2006. A Sydney institution for over 150 years, the new development will be the first church to be built in the City of Sydney in forty years and will house a flexible 600-seat worship space, a multi-purpose hall, administrative offices and meeting rooms, and underground parking for up to 80 cars.
The fire and its aftermath (2006):
cbd7-020-01.jpg (52041 bytes)cbd7-020-02.jpg (51363 bytes)
The original building interior (2005):
The Chairman of the Organ Historical Trust of Australia, Mr John Maidment OAM writes (11/5/06):

Loss of the splendid 1880 Hill & Son organ at St Barnabas' Anglican Church, Broadway, NSW in the disastrous fire of 10 May 2006 is particularly tragic. This was the most significant Australian organ to be lost in this way for many years, certainly since the destruction of the St Kilda Town Hall organ in 1991. The St Barnabas' organ remained in almost original condition on its original site apart from some very minor changes: addition of two string ranks to the Swell Organ, electric blowing and the fitting of harmonic trebles to the Great Trumpet. It was the largest two manual organ sent out to Australia by Hill & Son, with a particularly generous tonal structure that included Mixtures on Great and Swell, the latter a unique example of a four-rank quint and unison Mixture, while the Pedal had the luxury of a 4ft flute register - a metal rank made to Flautina scales. All of the metal pipework was of spotted metal and indeed this was a first rate Hill production where no expense had been spared and there will be no way it can be replaced. Fortunately, a number of digital images and sound clips were taken by Pastor de Lasala earlier this year while it was recorded by Michael Dudman in his series Historic Organs of Sydney. It was also frequently used in the 1960s by the Australian Broadcasting Commission for its programme Organists of Australia.
St Barnabas fire

PM - Wednesday, 10 May , 2006 18:48:34 ABC
Reporter: Jean Kennedy
MARK COLVIN: One of Sydney's best-known churches went up in flames early this morning, leaving behind little more than a smouldering shell.

But St Barnabas Anglican Church at Broadway on the edge of the city wasn't known for its architecture. It made its name in recent decades thanks largely to a battle of wits between the former church minister and the publican at the then Broadway Hotel across the road.

Each day the minister posted his religious message on a notice board at the gate of St Barnabas, and on the window of the pub opposite, came the swift and irreverent reply.

Although the church was destroyed by this morning's blaze, the notice board remains standing.

But now a new message is being posted. 

Jean Kennedy prepared this report.

NEWS REPORT: St Barnabas Church at Broadway went up in flames a little over an hour ago. At least a dozen fire trucks…

JEAN KENNEDY: Hundreds of inner city residents were evacuated from an apartment block behind the church in the early hours of the morning, and while firefighters managed to save that building, it was too late for the old church. 

This afternoon, there were still plenty of spectators who gathered to watch the still smoking shell as fire crews mopped up, and fire investigators and police began the job of working out why the almost 150-year-old modest Anglican Church had gone up in flames.

All that's left are four walls, its collapsed roof now a sheet of galvanised iron that hangs down like a piece of ripped cardboard.

VOX POP 1: It's just so sad, it's 150 years of history just gone.

VOX POP 2: Obviously I'm shocked, this is my church. My first thought was, Where are we going to meet this Sunday?" But, you know, we'll meet somewhere.

VOX POP 3: So cruel, it's been here for so long, you just walk past and take it for granted, and to see it so destructed. It really is heartbreaking. 

JEAN KENNEDY: Among the spectators was the Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth, who was the rector at St Barnabas for nearly two decades until a few years back.

ROB FORSYTH: It's very sad to see this wonderful building, that's served thousands and thousands of people, lying here in ruins.

For me, the most moving moment; I came down, I saw the fire just over the great gulf in the building, but I was really hit, when I went round to the front of the church, and midmorning on the wicker fence, on the grating fence, people had left flowers. 

And it suddenly made me realise that people in the community are grieving the loss of this, not just of the building but what the building means for the community, and for thousands and thousands of people who'd been through it. 

JEAN KENNEDY: It was Bishop Forsyth who got into a daily duel of wits with the publican of the Broadway Hotel, across the road. 

Each day as commuters would make their way down Parramatta Road to and from work in the city, they'd look out for the exchange between the pair, with a message posted on St Barnabas' noticeboard, and responded to in turn by Arthur Elliott, the publican.

ROB FORSYTH: The publican and the priest, as a book would put it, talked to each other across Parramatta Road by noticeboards and it became a talking point right throughout Sydney. 

It's part of… I mean, to look at the church, there are grander and more beautiful churches, but there's not church I know more kind of connected to Sydney then St Barnabas Broadway, and that was a good example of it.

JEAN KENNEDY: And what was some of the most memorable exchanges you had with the publican? 

ROB FORSYTH: That's a very hard one. I should have brought them with me.

Back when the AIDS scare, there was that… remember that ad, some of you may remember the ad when there was the bowling ball knocking down people? And I put a sign up, "Jesus bowled over death", referring to his resurrection.

And I think Arthur said, " Lillee bowled underarm". He was being rather wicked at that point (laughing). 

There was one, when he said at Easter, I think he said… or Christmas, "Closed, but bread and wine available opposite", which was rather nice.

There are so many, I'm afraid, some of the signs are actually in the footpath at Shepherd Street at Ultimo, the council has put the back and forward in it. So even if the church burnt down, there's still the signs there. 

JEAN KENNEDY: It was also at St Barnabas at Broadway where Arthur Stace, a then alcoholic, found God and then began scribbling "Eternity" on Sydney's pavements.

It was a word that lit up the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the celebrations at the dawn of the new millennium.

Bishop Forsyth says a new sign is going up at the burnt out church in memory of Arthur Stace.

ROB FORSYTH: Putting one up especially for the fire, painting it right now, and it will just have the word "Eternity" on it, "Eternity".

The man who wrote the word "Eternity" around the city of Sydney had been converted to Christ at St Barnabas Church during the depression. And so although "Eternity" belongs to the whole of the city, there's a very special St Barnabas link, and reminding people not of the passing world but of eternity. 

MARK COLVIN: The Anglican Bishop of South Sydney, Rob Forsyth, ending Jean Kennedy's report. 

Copyright ABC

Congregation service in Sydney Uni Great Hall May 2006