Master Plumbers NSW
One night in 1895, a historic meeting took place in the Sydney Institute of Sanitary and Engineering Technology. This meeting laid down the initial foundation for the establishment of an Institute of Plumbing and Sanitary Engineers. This body was later to evolve into Australia’s first Plumbing trade association, the Master Plumbers Association of NSW, a ‘union of employers’ to be later renamed the Master Plumbers & Mechanical Contractors Association of NSW.
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Master Plumbers NSW Timeline
The first plumbers in Australia came from Britain and Ireland bringing their knowledge and skills with them. They would have been familiar with the Guild system in England going back to the Middle Ages, when associations were formed for mutual aid and protection or for a common purpose, most frequently by persons associated in trade or industry.
First Meeting Minutes Taken
First minutes of MPA Association meetings recorded, the meeting taking place at the Protestant Hall, Castlereagh Street, Sydney on August 24. Shortly after this date the Association moved to the Builders’ Exchange in Pitt Street.
The objects of the Association were:
- To further the interests of the plumbing trade in every possible way;
- To obtain representation on the Water and Sewerage Board;
- To regulate the practice of builders and other unlicensed persons doing plumbing;
- To meet for mutual counsel and advice, and settling of all differences that might arise among plumbers in their business relations;
- To do away with unfair competition, and to obtain fair remuneration for all work.
Harry Murphy Joins
Harry Murphy was appointed Secretary of the Association and suggested he edit a trade journal “The Master Plumber” which is a valuable record of the Association’s history and continues to this day. Harry was an influential figure and communicator for 28 ½ years.
The Association’s emblem of Hygeia, Goddess of Health was adopted.It carries the title “The Master Plumbers & Sanitary Engineers Association of NSW”.
On the 1st of March, 1929, the Association rented space in Danks Buildings, 324 Pitt Street. Danks sold plumbing equipment and advertised their products in the Association’s journal “The Master Plumber”.
10 Regent Street
The Association acquired its own premises at 10 Regent Street, Sydney. Extensive alterations were made to the property and it was officially opened by the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Ald. H.F. Jensen on 19th September 1958.
The Development Ashfield
The Association purchased property adjoining Plumbers Supplies Co-operative Ltd at Ashfield. The aim of this purchase was a consolidation of their activities at this site, retaining the property in the city for investment purposes. Architect, Mr B. Noble MA (Harvard) drew up plans to develop the site.
Work commenced on the Association’s new headquarters at 121 – 125 Bland Street, Ashfield. The Builder was Mr B.D. Atkinson of North Ryde. Progress was hampered by delays in brick supplies, strikes and bad weather. To add to their woes, the Sydney County Council wanted to establish a sub-station in front of the new headquarters and steps had to be taken to prevent this resumption. Meanwhile, a long term lease of the Regent Street property was arranged with the Public Service Board.
An architectural model and pictorial record of progress was reported in The Master Plumber and the building was finally completed in November 1971. The Association endured a prolonged period in the warehouse premises of Plumbers’ Supplies Co-op Ltd whilst awaiting the completion.
The building was before its time, a proud symbol of the Association, its members and the Plumbing Industry – a building of character, form and function – and a credit to the architects and contractors, and to Jack Stephen and his Committeemen whose conception and hard work made it possible.
The Name Change
The Association’s emblem of Hygieia, Goddess of Health, was adopted in 1927 and
replaced a seal going back to the 1890s, which was difficult to decipher. The emblem carries the title “The Master Plumbers & Sanitary Engineers Association of NSW”.
In 1980 the name was changed to “The Master Plumbers & Mechanical Contractors Association of NSW” and a new Constitution was adopted.
An article in the Master Plumber – August 1992, Page 6 “At last – a National voice for Australia’s Plumbers” goes into considerable detail. It says that most tradespeople and apprentices currently working in the Australian Plumbing industry are employed under a Federal Award system. Negotiations on wages and conditions in the industry are conducted with a National Trade Union.
A new modern logo was adopted to be used Australia-wide. The logo has the words “Master Plumbers Association NSW” underneath the circular emblem. The article ends by saying: “The use of this Australia wide logo will be of benefit when lobbying on National issues impacting on the plumbing industry.”
Welcome To Lidcombe
In the Master Plumber, February – March 2003, immediate past President Steve Ackerley refers to a tour of the new Association premises at 3 John Street, Lidcombe: “Work on the new building is running to plan, and the Association should relocate in May. The refurbishment of the building has received strong support from many of our industry members who have kindly provided a large number of plumbing products and services at great savings to the Association…The new premises at Lidcombe will not only create more space and facilities for the Association, it will also provide many more opportunities for the Master Plumber Apprentices Ltd, Master Plumbers Training, our Industry members and all involved with the NSW plumbing industry.”
Master Plumber, April – May 2003: President Bill Armstrong said that the new head office at Lidcombe would be completed in the next 60 days and would give the Association ample space for future expansion. The property purchase at Warners Bay will house the Newcastle Branch and allow for a much-needed base in the North.
A Time Capsule, to be opened in 2041, was relocated from Ashfield to Lidcombe and was prominent as a significant feature in the main foyer/display area.
A New Direction
Master Plumbers NSW launched a new brand and logo to represent a modern and proactive advocate for its Members and the plumbing industry.
A new office in Seven Hills and upgraded technologies to support this new direction.