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Iconic Newcastle reservoir takes heritage listing

Newcastle’s first underground drinking water reservoir is set to be heritage listed by the NSW Government, taking its place among some of Australia’s most prized cultural possessions.

The Res – as it is commonly named by the community – was built in 1882, with design features unique to Newcastle’s colonial past.

Minister for Energy and Utilities Don Harwin said the Newcastle Reservoirs Site is a crucial aspect of the region’s water supply history and well worth preserving.

“The reservoirs were integral to the growth and industrialisation of Newcastle, allowing for population growth and industry to flourish,” Harwin said.

“The Walka and Chichester schemes demonstrated a crucial transition from ad-hoc local water sources to a centralised town water supply that was reliable and free from contamination.

“I welcome [the] announcement as it will ensure this important site is protected and its future secured for generations to come.”

Minister for Heritage Gabrielle Upton said the icon’s unique design – featuring an arch structure and 32 four-metre columns – made it a worthy addition to the State Heritage Register.

“The Res is visually striking and shows the importance of aesthetics in 19th century water supply infrastructure,” Upton said.

“It is one of only two water reservoirs in New South Wales known to feature tiered brick arches, as developed by renowned English engineer William Clark. I am pleased the Newcastle Reservoirs Site will join our diverse heritage register, which now consists of more than 1650 items.”

The Res will now be legally protected under the Heritage Act 1977 and approval from the Heritage Council of NSW will be required before major changes can be made to the site.