It was originally built to power Newcastle's rapidly growing industrial harbour.
One hundred and forty four years on, the iconic Carrington Pump House could rise again as an economic driver in the city's transformation.
With work on the latest stage of the building's restoration nearing completion, talk is turning to potential uses for the Port of Newcastle owned property.
A brewery, function centre and cafe/restaurant are among the ideas that have already been put forward as potential future uses.
"I think it can be used in many different ways particularly because of the amount of land that it has got behind it," heritage architect Barney Collins, who worked on the project with colleague Dominic Warland, said
He suggested The Grounds precinct in the former Sydney industrial suburb of Alexandria could be a template for the building's future.
"It's a destination, that's how it (the pump house) has got to be looked at. If you create a destination, it doesn't matter where it is, people will go to it. The Grounds at Alexandria is the perfect example of that," Mr Collins said.
"There is plenty of inspiration around at the present time, particularly for Newcastle; I think you will be surprised what comes out of the woodwork when the pump house becomes available for lease."
The latest $850,000 phase of restoration has involved the repair of the building's north, east and western brick sandstone and masonry facades.
It followed completion last year of a $1.2 million project to restore the southern facade. The area in front of the building has also been remodelled to reflect the original layout and function of the pump house.
"Because of its age we encountered unforeseen degradation of the masonry. A lot of effort went into sourcing masonry and stone that would complement the existing structure," Port of Newcastle asset manager Scott Bacon said.
Asbestos removal, repairing termite damage and securing the building's north-eastern foundations have been among the other challenges that have been overcome to date.
The Victorian Italianate building was built in 1877 and operated until 1967.
It housed the first large scale hydraulic power system to be established in Australia, providing power for the port's coal loading cranes.
It was added to the state heritage register in 2018.
Consultation is now underway with Heritage NSW regarding how to restore the building's interior.
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Mr Bacon said the port was keen to see the building returned to active use.
"The remediation on the building is almost complete and Port of Newcastle is exploring a number of opportunities which would see this amazing piece of history be returned in active use," he said.
"Port of Newcastle is seeking something that can be used by the community and leverage the fantastic views from the prime location."
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