Spotswood Pumping Station, Spotswood, is an important nineteenth century industrial complex. The buildings are architecturally most distinctive, in terms of their planning, detailing and stylistic origins. The buildings are symmetrically composed about a central roadway framed by Mansard roofed tower blocks. At either end of the main buildings there are detached polygonal shaped buildings with lantern roofs creating a fine formal arrangement. The complex generally is a Classical-derived style and the Mansard roofed tower blocks are detailed in a French Classical Revival style which is an uncommon style in this state.
The architect is unknown, although E. Kussmaul is known to have designed the works connected with the sewerage system. The design and arrangement of the building reflects the purpose of the structure and the complex is an excellent example of the facility of the Victorians to combine aesthetic qualities with a functional structure. Much of the machinery and other fittings internally remain and the complex itself can be said to be intact to a degree which is possibly unique for so substantial a complex.
The Pumping Station was erected between 1893 and 1896 to house the pumping station which raised the level of Melbourne's two main gravity fed sewers to sufficent head to flow by gravity to the metropolitan sewerage farm at Werribee. The arrangement of the building reflects the two main sewers which flow into it, the North Yarra and South Yarra main sewers. Each sewer runs firstly beneath the detached, polygonal buildings at either end of the complex, built to house straining devices to collect material which would otherwise clog the pumps.
The placement of the building relates directly to the direction of the approach of the two sewers. The main sewers then enter the front main blocks of the complex, each block being the engine house for its respective sewer.
Contained within each engine house are six elliptical wells extending from ground level to the depths of the sewer and in which were located the pumping engines. From the engine house the sewage was pumped beneath the yard in the centre of the complex and thence to the sewage farm. There are rooms within the Mansard roofs and the porthole windows are features. Attached to the rear of each engine house are the respective boiler houses and coal bunkers, each formally arranged about the yard. The pumping machinery at Spotswood consisted of ten triple expansion condensing engines driving vertical direct acting plunger pumps. The engines were supplied with steam at 150 psi from ten internally fired, marine, tubular, manually stoked boilers made by Thompsons Company of Castlemaine of which one remains in position. Engines 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10 survive in the building and all were made by Otis Engineering Company of Melbourne, with the exception of No 5 which was made by Hathorn Davey & Company of England. Auxiliary equipment, flow meters and much other equipment survives and are substantially in the condition that existed when they ceased service.
Spotswood Pumping Station, Spotswood, is remarkably intact both in respect of the buildings and the equipment. The entire complex of buildings, site, fence, all equipment, all operating records are included within the Classification.