When electricity came to Sydney at the turn of the century, demand was immediate and expanded swiftly. Ultimo Power Station, commissioned in 1899, powered the inner city tram network. Continual technical improvements enabled Ultimo (and the White Bay power station) to cope with increasing demand until electric trams were withdrawn in the 1950s and the power station closed in 1963. The building now houses the Powerhouse Museum.
Pyrmont Power Station (Pyrmont ‘A’) was built by Sydney Council in 1904, providing electricity for industries and for domestic lighting and appliances. Although new machinery was imported and commissioned quite frequently, a decision was made in the 1930s to replace the original station with a new one – ‘B’. In the event the transition was only completed by the 1950s, without completely dismantling ‘A’. The complex was finally decommissioned in 1993, when larger power stations, close to coal mines, took up the slack.
Parts of ‘A’ are incorporated in The Star, which was built by 1995.
CSR chose to insulate itself from industrial disputes and power outages: it shipped coal to silos on the present Regatta Wharf, to generate power in the building now known as The Elizabeth.