Local Landmark: The Burcham

February 2nd, 2024 - by Brad Gillespie

The Burcham at 8 Crewe Place in Rosebery is an award-winning residential redevelopment of the old Wrigley’s chewing gum factory.

We take a look at its stunning and innovative apartments, as well as the history of the iconic factory that preceded them.

The history of the old Wrigleys Factory

Willian Wrigley Junior was born in Philadelphia, USA, in 1861. Originally a travelling soap salesman working for his father’s company, he became famous for introducing chewing gum Wrigley’s Spearmint chewing gum in 1893. The gum proved more popular than any of the company’s other products, and Wrigley’s became the largest producer and distributor of chewing gum in the world, with factories in the US, Canada and Australia.

Wrigley’s chose Rosebery for its Australian factory, and one of Sydney’s first planned suburbs was built around it. The website for The Burcham redevelopment describes Rosebery’s origins as a “Model Industrial Suburb” with a combination of housing and industry:

“The original Rosebery Estate was influenced by the 19th century Garden City Movement – where town planners combined open green spaces with developed urban areas. Rosebery had a major difference though in that it was planned as a Model Industrial Suburb.”

The Wrigley’s Factory was created with what were then cutting edge techniques using steel and reinforced concrete. Its distinctive facade is the Chicago-esque architectural style (Wrigley’s headquarters were in Chicago), and Heritage 21 notes the brickwork as one of the major features of the building.

Who was Burcham?

The Wrigley’s Factory was designed by John Burcham Clamp (known as ‘Burcham’) whose name is honoured in its residential redevelopment.

Burcham designed many factories, as well as the Tattersalls Club in Sydney. Described as an “active” Anglican, he also turned his hand to many “ecclesiastical buildings”, including Sydney Church of England Grammar School (Shore) chapel in North Sydney, and St Matthew's Church in Manly. He also designed the conversion of a house into St Luke's Hospital in Rushcutters Bay.

The famous Wrigley’s chewing gum

Wrigley’s were well known for their advertising in Australia and the United States. In fact, Willian Wirgley Junior was a real pioneer in mass marketing.

A newspaper advertisement from The Examiner on 2 March 1922 shows the way the famous chewing gum was promoted. It included sketches of the Rosebery building, with the tagline “a chewing confection that is perfection”:

“A 3d packet of WRIGLEY'S in your pocket will insure you against thirst and fatigue. It will give you delicious refreshment at any time. It moistens the mouth, cleans the tongue, sweetens the breath, whitens and helps to preserve the teeth. It keeps you feeling fit… Athletes prize it, workers desire it.”

The famous gum came in three “delirious flavours” and could also cure almost anything:

“Doctors and Dentists approve it. WRIGLEY'S is fine for convalescents — it soothes the feverish tongue, clears the parched throat, settles the unsteady stomach.”

The factory received a very special mention:

“The new WRIGLEY factory at Rosebery, Sydney, is the home of this wholesome confection. Here in immaculately clean surroundings. WRIGLEY'S is made scientifically, by machinery, from the choicest of ingredients, under the rigid inspection of the Board of Health.”

A development trend: Becoming The Burcham

The Wrigley’s Factory manufactured chewing gum until it was converted into offices in the 1980s. However, a few decades on, the changing nature of the area inspired developers to re-purpose the classic factory.

We see a lot of “adaptive reuse” projects in our area, in which old commercial and industrial land and buildings are transformed into residential. The original quirks and the unique industrial warehouse vibe of these conversions can be highly sought after by buyers.

The Oliver Electric Building in nearby Alexandria is a great example of an old factory being turned into residential apartments. But this trend is not limited to apartments. We also see it in unique houses, such as 198-200 Australia Street, Newtown, an expansive family home that was created out of an old warehouse and bakery. We’ve sold it twice, and on both occasions, it broke the Newtown suburb record.

99 new state-of-art apartments

In our eyes, The Burcham would have to be one of the most innovative redevelopments of a warehouse anywhere. It has resulted in 99 stylish apartments that integrate premium materials and home technology. All apartments are generously sized and contain one or two bedrooms.

Many are situated within the original warehouse building (with heritage features). However, some are also located in two new sympathetically-designed buildings with streamlined modern styling.

Developed by a stellar team led by The Stable Group, Architects AJC were charged with making the most of the Wrigley factory’s industrial features and scale. Original features integrated into the redevelopment include exposed concrete columns with ‘mushroom’ capitals and steel-framed windows.

The complex includes state-of-the-art home automation systems, such as biometric fingerprint access and sustainability innovations like electric car charging on site, hydronic heating, rainwater harvesting, naturally ventilated common areas, and energy management systems. There are stunning communal - and edible - gardens. A highlight is resident access to a spectacular rooftop with an outdoor cinema and BBQ area.

Lee Collard, AJC Studio Lead, was quoted as saying:

“Adapting the factory not only saved a piece of our industrial heritage, it resulted in a healthier, greener environment for nearly 100 new homes.”

Completed in 2018, The Burnham won the Sustainability Awards, Interiors Design that same year. It then received a commendation in the 2019 NSW Architecture Awards for Heritage Architecture.

In 2019, The Burcham also won the UDIA ‘Medium Density’ award for the best building in NSW (for 75 dwellings and over). In 2020, it was commended in the NSW Architecture Awards, Residential Architecture - Multiple Housing category.

Properties in The Burcham

We recently sold a fantastic one-bedroom apartment in The Burcham. 18/8 Crewe Place, Rosebery, spans 66 square metres on Level 1 with high ceilings, excellent storage, clever design and dual east/west aspect, and a balcony.

The excellent lifestyle amenities in the building and its great location close to parks, cafes and restaurants, and The Cannery only added to its appeal.

If you want to make The Burcham your home, contact us today.