Spending some pennies

“Without plumbing, there is no civilisation,” – Karl Kruszelnicki, on the importance of infrastructure like the no. 2 station. Photo by City of Perth.

A PRESERVATION project for an important part of Perth’s plumbing past kicks off soon.

Officially titled the “Low-Level Sewage Pumping Station No 2”, the Langley Park Pumping Station was designed by architect RL Wright and built in 1914, incorporating a since-defunct public toilet in its elaborately-decorated masonry.

With a cottage-like design, it commonly provokes “what is this building?” queries.

The station marked an important step in the public health effort to reduce sickness stemming from open sewers.

In the latter 1800s when other cities had proper plumbing systems, Perth’s outhouses and open drains were an embarrassment. 

The No 2 station and its partner, the No 1 station over near the Causeway, served Perth’s sewer system for 75 years and were added to the WA Heritage Council’s permanent register of heritage places in 2006.

Their entry states: “The pumping stations are the survivors of the first three such buildings built in Perth to provide sewage pumping facilities and men’s public toilets and are excellent examples of industrial architecture specifically designed to be aesthetically pleasing in their prominent locations.

“The pumping stations are notable for the particular attention paid to their design and the high standards demonstrated in their execution and fine examples of the Federation Free Classical style applied to utility buildings”.

The stations weren’t always appreciated for their aesthethic contribution: In 1923 while Perth councillors were debating the best spot for a new town hall, a potential location was rejected because, as Cr Watts put it: “From the point of view of a beauty spot there is a septic pumping station at the bottom of the block”.

The station was decommissioned in 1989 when the new central sewage station was built, and ownership of the stately No 2 was handed over to Perth council.

The council’s works start January 27, aiming to protect and maintain the heritage fabric and improve security to keep it pristine, and it’ll be fenced off for about six weeks. 


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