What is significant?
Berth No.5 North Wharf consists of a shipping berth, a concrete and timber wharf apron, a steel framed cargo shed and an electric travelling crane. The area has been a wharf since 1855 dealing mainly with domestic cargo. The current built fabric dates from the immediate post war era but there appears to be earlier bluestone paving under later bitumen. The 1948 crane was locally designed and built by Malcolm Moore Limited. The steel work for the shed was fabricated by Melbourne firm Charles Ruwolt Pty Ltd. The berth was made redundant by the closure of the river below the Charles Grimes Bridge in 1975.
How is it significant?
Berth No.5 North Wharf is of historical and scientific (technological) significance to the State of Victoria.
Why is it significant?
Berth No.5 North Wharf is historically and technologically important as the most complete and intact cargo berth in the Port of Melbourne remaining from the pre-containerisation era. It remains essentially unchanged since its redundancy as a cargo berth. It is unusual for the retention of its original semi-portal electric crane. The berth is important for its ability to demonstrate the cargo handling methods of the pre-containerisation era.
Proposed Statement of Significance from Andrew Ward and Assocs Docklands Heritage Study 1991
No.5 North Wharf, with its wharf crane, is important at the State level as the most complete of all the traditional (non-containerised) river berths on the north side of the river. This is the only place within the port of Melbourne where it is now possible to see all the elements of a traditional berth with equipment and facilities which were designed for the site. The area has been a wharf since 1855, and the berth has been associated with the Victorian and interstate general cargo trade at least since 1894, and was one of the principal berths for this trade for the period from shortly before 1929 to at least 1959. The cargo shed is associated with Charles Ruwolt Pty. Ltd., one of Melbourne's Melbourne's leading steel fabricators during the inter-war period; and the crane is the product of Malcolm Moore Limited, Melbourne's chief mechanical handling manufacturer in the inter-war period and responsible for the manufacture and supply of much of the coal-handling equipment at the West Melbourne gas works and at other ports around Australia. This crane is one of only three Moore cranes installed within the port of Melbourne, and it has been associated with this berth since its erection in August 1948. It is the second oldest extant wharf crane in the port of Melbourne. The roof trusses are interesting because they appear to have been welded as half spans and bolted together on site; indicative perhaps, of the rather more rudimentary mechanical handling equipment (mobile cranes/transporters) of the period when they were erected.
This classification applies to the wharf apron, together with the horizontal fenders, crane rail and cast iron bollards; the Malcolm Moore semi-portal crane; the cargo shed complete with the crane rail at the eaves-line, the double sliding/roller shutter doors, and the verandah over the loading bay; the bluestone ramp up to the wharf apron at the eastern end, and the covered loading bay at the rear.
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.
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.
3. If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it.
4. Nothing in this declaration prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.
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.
* painting of previously painted surfaces provided that the painting or preparation does not destroy evidence of earlier paint or decorative schemes or earlier signage
* repairs and maintenance that replace like with like
* removal of asbestos and asbestos based materials
* replacement of sheet asbestos cement by sheet material of a similar profile
The principal significance of the place resides in its ability to demonstrate cargo handling techniques in the pre-containerisation era. As such a wide range of uses should be possible. However, compartmentalisation of the interior of the shed should be avoided unless done in such a way as to retain a sense of the internal volume. Similarly, cargo doors should be retained. The crane is integral to the significance and should be retained. Clear access from the shed to the water is also desirable to retain.