Lincoln Street Ventilation Stack


City of Vincent

Place Number



57 Lincoln St Highgate

Location Details

Cnr Smith St The adjacent block is the Highgate Police Station, which is on the RHP. The land on which the tower falls on is a difference reserve. These two different places share no history.

Other Name(s)

Dumas' Folly

Local Government




Construction Date

Constructed from 1935

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents
Heritage List Adopted
State Register Registered 18 Dec 2007 HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument, HCWebsite.Listing+ListingDocument

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management
Classified by the National Trust Classified 28 Aug 1995
Art Deco Significant Bldg Survey Completed 30 Jun 1994
Municipal Inventory Adopted 13 Nov 1995 Category A

Statement of Significance

The Sewer Vent is a singular structure and landmark in Highgate, albeit the outcome of a failed experiment. It is a notable and monumental example of Interwar Art Deco. It has associations with the Police Wireless Service as the antennae for the wireless were camoflagued in the vent structure during the Second World War.

Physical Description

The tall tower has distinctive vertical Art Deco detailing and the appearance of a monument. It has a small building attached to its base, with battered retaining walls to the corner. The sewer vent was an experiment to improve the sewerage system to alleviate the possibilities of combustion and leakage of foul smells. It was considered to be a failure and the experiment was discontinued. Dominates its corner location None apparent


A sewer ventilation tower was constructed on the corner of the site on Reserve No. 45158 adjacent to the Highgate Hill Police Station. This Art Deco style tower was erected in in 1941, by the Public Works Department for the Metropolitan Water Supply Sewerage and Drainage Department. It was designed by A.E Paddy Clare, the principal architect for the PWD and the engineer was Russell J. Dumas. The tower was built to vent the acid-bearing air from the sewerage system into the atmosphere and prevent it corroding the concrete lined sewerage pipes. Two vents were constructed, one in Lincoln Street and one in Subiaco, but there is some doubt as to whether the latter one was built. Electric fans were used to extract the gas by pumping it up the tower. The Metropolitan Water Supply, Sewerage & Drainage Department was establihsed by an Act of Parliament in 1910. Through this all the water schemes were consolidated under on department, responsibe to the Minister of Water Supply, Sewerage & Drainage. Later (1925) part of it came under the PWD and so the departments pooled their resources. The Metropolitan Area was divided into three districts in 1910; Perth, Claremont and Fremantle with the Highgate area becoming part of Perth. After several name chnages, including the Water Authority of Western Australia (1985 - 1996), the department became the Water Corporation on 1 January 1996. Sewerage treatment works at Burswood and Claise Brook were completed and operational by January 1912. There were septic tanks installed at Claise Brook with an underground pipe to transport the sewerage to the percolating filters across the river on Burswood Island. After being treated the waste flowed into the river. As soon as the treatment works at Claise Brook were completed their were complaints about smell, particularly in East Perth. A new filter bed was added in 1913 but to no avail. Further new filter beds were added in 1918 and 1919 (when parts of Leederville and West Perth were sewered) annd in 1920 (making nine in all) but the problem persisted and there were reports of raw sewerage being sighted in the river. An ocean outfall was considered form the late 1920's. This and a new treatment plant in West Subiaco came into use in 1927 and when they were expanded some time in 1936, the works at Claise Brook and Burswood were excluded from thre system. The Lincoln Street sewer vent is 38 metres tall, including the one metre high plinth. It is the second tallest such structure in Australia. The tallest sewer vent, which is in Sydney, is 40 metres tall and was built in 1893. The reason for the height, was to carry the air from the sewer high above the area. During certain weather conditions, however, the polluted air did not vent upwards but dispersed through the system, causing much unpleasantness to the nearby residents. As a result of complaints, and the fact that the vent did not operate adequately, the connection to the sewerage system was closed (cemented over) and after four weeks of operation the tower rendered non-functional. Pipes near the ventilation tower collapsed in 1949 and the collapse was attributed to corrosion. The damage was repaired and the extractor fans were removed form the sewer vent at this time. The final solution to the corrosion and its effects was the installation of pipes lined with plastic in the late 1960's and 1970's and all the ventilation shafts around the Metropolitan Area. (Most of the other vents were metal designed to look like lamp posts). Perth now has a sealed system. In 1952 the chamber room at the base of the tower was converted to a laboratory for the chemical analysis of sewerage. It was the Department's first laboratory. Within the Public Works organisation the Lincoln Street ventilation stack was referred to as Dumas' Folly. Russell Dumas (later Sir, and for whom Dumas House is named) was chief engineer of the PWD from 1932 and director of works and buildings from 1941. Ralph Lake (father of Councillor Sally Lake) said it was often called 'monument to Hitler because it stank'. In late 1941 or early 1942, the central wireless section serving the police force was moved from police headquarters into the Highgate Hill Police Station. The wireless antennae was attached to the top of the sewer vent, which provided the perfect location. The move was completed almost within one day. The radio's call sign was VKI - Licence No. 1258. The location of the wireless section was kept secret at the time, as it was considered a prime bombing target. It is possible that during this time the station was also used by the Commonwealth Department of Defence for communication purposes. The wireless service had been established in 1930 with its transmitter at Wireless Hill in Applecross until 1936 when it was moved to the Central Police Station. In 1949 the Highgate Hill Police Station became the centre for vehicular communications which led to the formation of the Traffic Branch and Road Traffic Authority (RTA). In 1956 the wireless section was moved into the larger police quarters, and the building was extended to accommodate additional equipment and services. The quarters were further enlarged in 1969 with the addition of a new plant room, another transmission room and a carport, In 1975, the final year of tis operation at Highgate, VKI had radio connections with all the metropolitan police stations 338 vehicles and two launches plus links interstate and a country network of 39 base stations and 95 mobiles. In 1961 the Police Department began renting the room on the base of the tower, paying $.5.60 per month from then until 1975 when the wireless section was transferred to Police Headquarters in East Perth. Nevertheless the wireless antennae remained attached to the tower and the room of the tower is used by the Police Department as a training room and as a meeting place for the Police Historical Society of WA. Sally Lake later wrote: 'A few years ago a friend and I were given a tour of the old police station and the tower by a policeman who shared our interest in the history of the place. We entered the classroom by a door on the south side. At the north end of the room was what appeared to be a low cupboard door. When opened this revealed a tunnel along which we crawled. After a few feet we were able to look into the tower. Looking up we could see metal rungs set into the wall, going to the top. The tower was very high and tapered in. The base, a foot or so below us appeared to be concrete with a few stray items including a bicycle thrown in. In 1998 the ventilation stack was excised from the cancelled Reserve 6245 and was vested with the Water Corporation. In 1975, the wireless section was transferred to Police Headquarters in East Perth, but the wireless antennae are still attached to the tower.



State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
3342 Lincon Street Ventilating Stack, Cottage, Former Police Station - Final Report Heritage Study {Other} 1997
8346 Lincoln Street ventilation stack. Heritage Study {Other} 2004

Place Type

Individual Building or Group


Epoch General Specific
Original Use GOVERNMENTAL Other
Present Use GOVERNMENTAL Other

Architectural Styles

Inter-War Art Deco

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall RENDER Other Render
Wall BRICK Common Brick

Historic Themes

General Specific
OUTSIDE INFLUENCES Water, power, major t'port routes
PEOPLE Innovators
OCCUPATIONS Technology & technological change
SOCIAL & CIVIC ACTIVITIES Community services & utilities

Creation Date

28 Sep 1995

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

04 Jan 2018


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