Pyrmont Community Centre was built in 1884 as Pyrmont Superior Public School, designed by Government architect William Kemp. As industry expanded and housing contracted, in 1933 the Government closed the school, sending its last pupils to Ultimo.
During the Second World War the building was occupied by the Navy.
Funded by a federal Better Cities grant, it was refurbished and re-opened to the public as a Community Centre in 1993, replacing the services offered at the Maybanke Centre. Its operations were shaped by the City of Sydney’s general policies on community centres. By 1993 the emphasis had shifted from the informal, family-style activities, supplementing public school services, to a managerial approach. Staff were no longer encouraged to take part in activities, but to organise them. Also, as Australian teams floundered at Olympic level, the focus at grass-roots shifted from art and craft to gymnastics.
The Community Centre opened at a time when Pyrmont’s population had fallen from thousands to hundreds, so it seemed appropriate to share the building between a child care centre, after-school care and the wider community. Most of the community space was committed to two gyms: there were effectively no community activities.
As the population increased through urban renewal, pressure mounted, and residents formed the Friends of the Pyrmont Community Centre in 2011, to assist the staff “to extend the reach and relevance of the Centre” to residents and workers, and help to build community spirit and a sense of belonging. Their first project was to create The Link, an attractive and well-used drop-in space, from a dingy unused corridor. The Link also houses a book exchange, established and maintained by volunteers, and a link to the City Library Network.
The Centre now hosts over fifty programs.