Waterhouse Chambers

Waterhouse Chambers

Less than 10 years after colonisation formally began in South Australia, a notice appeared in the South Australian Register referring to the planned construction of this building. J. and T. Waterhouse were to erect a store “on that admirable but hitherto unoccupied corner allotment between King William street and Rundle street”.

The offices were built between 1847-50 for Thomas Greaves Waterhouse, a notable financier in colonial Adelaide and a director of the South Australian Mining Association. Waterhouse had arrived in South Australia in 1840, and he and his brother John conducted a grocery business in Rundle Street. In 1845 Thomas was one of the celebrated “shop-keeping nobodies” whose bold investment in the South Australian Mining Association soon paid handsome dividends from the Burra Burra “monster mine”.

When building work commenced, it was an act of considerable faith in the young colony. Waterhouse used profits largely derived from the Burra Burra “monster mine”, and for many years the South Australian Mining Association had its offices there. Waterhouse moved to the new building in February 1848.

Waterhouse became very wealthy and could afford to adopt the philosophy that one should donate one-tenth of one’s income to charity and religion. He is particularly remembered for his involvement in the establishment of Prince Alfred College, which he said “was an object worthy of his life's work”. He retired to England and died in 1885.

The complex he built on the busy intersection that for a time was known as Waterhouse Corner is one of the oldest office developments in Adelaide. It also provides a direct link with that original period of consolidation and development in the colony that drew upon the copper boom of the mid-1840s.

Waterhouse Chambers and the Beehive Buildings on the opposite corner of Rundle Mall represent a marked architectural punctuation on King William Street in scale, style and building construction.

The use of subtle projecting surfaces, the arrangement of windows, recessed curved corner element and the simple bracketed window hoods are reminiscent of the Regency period. The ground floor of the building was remodelled in 1869, with the introduction of plate glass.

Balconies and original barred sashes to the windows were removed from the upper floors in the 1920s. Many other superficial changes have occurred but these have generally been restricted to alterations to the interior and ground floor shop fronts.


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Although now dwarfed by nearby development, this pair of buildings effectively marks the King William Street entry point to the mall, creating a transition to its generally lower-scale retailing character.

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See also

Images of Waterhouse Chambers

  • Waterhouse Chambers, 2014
Building materials
Iron, Cast iron, Render, Plaster
Architectural styles
2 Victorian Period (c. 1840–c. 1890), 2.6 Filigree
1847 -  

Additional Works


Construction commenced
Construction completed
Architecture and design features
Engineering features
Rundle Mall
Council Ward
Alternative Addresses
Town Acre
Planning Zone or Policy Area
Original owners
T G Waterhouse
Original occupant
Later occupant/s
Purposes and use
Commercial, Office
AS2482 classification
Public Access
Business/trading hours
State Heritage ID
ACC Reference No.
DPTI Heritage No.
Certificate of Title No.
NTSA file exists
Heritage Status
State Heritage listed
State heritage listing
State Heritage listed
Date of State heritage listing
Local heritage listing
Date of Local heritage listing
NTSA listing
NTSA registered
Date of NTSA listing
Section 23 (4) crtiteria
Risk status
Historic Themes
2.2.1 Early Colonial Settlement
3.1 Economic Cycles
3.1.3 Discovery of Copper
Darrell Lea
Australian Curriculum references
Year 5: The Australian Colonies


  • ACA, Assessments 1846-50; Gibbs, R., A history of Prince Alfred College, 1984, pp. 22-3; Loyau, G.E., Notable South Australians, 1885, pp. 129-
  • 30; MLSA, Historical photographs (Town Acre
  • 79); Morgan, E.J.R., & Gilbert, S.H., Early Adelaide architecture 1836 to 1886, 1969, pp. 27,
  • 150; Observer, 10, 17 October 1885; South Australian Register, 16 September 1846, 31
  • March 1847, 22 February 1848, 25 February 1848, 1 January 1870.

Further reading

External links

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