>
  • November
  • 2023`
  • Hospitality
  • News

Uncovering history

During the development of our first lifestyle precinct on the corner of Oxford and South Dowling streets in Paddington, we discovered the true alignment of the heritage listed Busby’s Bore. The impressive piece of history is an underground tunnel system that supplied Sydney city with fresh water during the 1800’s and had previously remained buried deep under the CBD for almost 200 years.

  • November
  • 2023`
  • Hospitality
  • News

The actual path of this historic water system was uncovered during the construction of what will be Australia’s first 25hours hotel, entertainment and lifestyle precinct on the site of the former West Olympia Theatre, which is also heritage listed.

Busby’s Bore was Sydney’s second water source and an impressive piece of engineering for its era, hand excavated by convicts under the direction of engineer John Busby between 1827 and 1837. The underground tunnel or ‘bore’ was completely gravity fed and conveyed fresh water from Lachlan Swamps between Paddington and Randwick (now part of Centennial Park) to the racecourse (today’s Hyde Park) for distribution to those living in the rapidly expanding city.

As experts in the heritage space, we regularly take on sites with a story that are heritage listed. As always, we did our due diligence to ensure the work did not interfere with Busby’s Bore, relying on historic maps and ground penetrating radar (GPR) scanning, however, as is clear in the map below the tunnel diverted significantly from what was previously thought to be its route

As Busby’s Bore followed the path of least resistance it was not exactly linear, and as Busby himself never actually went into his bore to survey it, the historic maps were not accurate.

“Busby’s Bore had been essentially invisible to planners’ sonar investigations into the site because the historic tunnel had filled two-thirds with sandstone sediment that made it almost impossible to distinguish from the surrounding soil.”

Kate Paterson

Urbis Heritage Consultant

We worked very closely with our heritage consultant, Heritage NSW, Sydney Water, and the City of Sydney to get this project back on track while ensuring this amazing piece of Sydney’s history was preserved. Once we discovered exactly where the bore ran through our site, we were able to re-engineer our building structure around this. Rectification work included sealing the impact hole and active archaeological monitoring. We will also display information about the bore’s discovery and history onsite.

We look forward to reinvigorating this historic site as it is set to become one of Australia’s leading lifestyle precincts, under the 25hours hotel brand. The hotel will be uniquely characterised by its locale, with a ground floor café, destination restaurant and bar, four levels of boutique accommodation and a spectacular rooftop bar overlooking Oxford Street, Sydney’s eastern suburbs and harbour.

25hours hotel Paddington is scheduled to open in December 2024.

SEE MORE hospitality