What is significant?
The former Port Fairy Customs Shed was built in about 1863 to receive goods from inwards shipping for spirits gauging and duty assessment by the Victorian Customs Department. The shed, designed by the Public Works Department, is on a bluestone foundation and has a timber frame clad with vertical boards and a curved, galvanised iron roof over bowstring trusses. It measures approximately 50ft x 21ft x 14ft (about 15.5m x 7m x 3.5m).
By the 1860s the town of Belfast (renamed Port Fairy in 1885) had established significant inter-colonial trade and was a port of disembarkation for government assisted immigrants. The Victorian Colonial government established a Customs House in Gipps Street, and this customs shed, to assess revenue and excise duty. The shed was linked by a tramway over a bridge spanning the Moyne River down to the pier on East Beach. The shed was oriented east-west in line with the bridge. Works to develop the Moyne River as a harbour and port required removal of the bridge and tramway in 1875, and the shed was re-erected on the new wharf.
Belfast suffered commercial decline following the bankruptcy of William Rutledge, the leading merchant in the area, and ship-borne trade became increasingly intra-colonial, reducing the need for a customs building. From about the 1870s the shed appears to have been used by local fishermen for drying sails and repairing nets. The track easement for the construction of a railway spur line to the river wharf in 1892 required that the shed to be relocated again, a short distance to the west, away from the river.
How is it significant?
The former Port Fairy customs shed is of historical significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
The former Port Fairy customs shed is historically significant as a rare and early surviving example of a timber customs shed. A number of Customs Houses have survived but this is the only known example of a gauging shed in Victoria.
General Conditions: 1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.General Conditions: 2. Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of alterations that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such alteration shall cease and the Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible.General Conditions: 3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it.General Conditions: 4. Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.General Conditions: 5. Nothing in this declaration exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authority where applicable.
* Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
The former Customs Shed has been recently repaired as part of the Public Heritage Program. This shed is a very rare example of a gauging shed. Permit policy should take account of retaining as much of the integrity of the building as possible.
It is the purpose of the permit exemptions to allow works that do not impact on the significance of the place to occur without the need for a permit.
Colours for repainting should be submitted to Heritage Victoria for approval.