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Not the Newington Armory

Depot Names

When the ex-Royal Australian Navy Armament Depot at Newington was incorporated into Sydney Olympic Park it was renamed Newington Armory; an unhistorical title but understandable from a marketing perspective.

The titles applied to the place varied quite a bit over the years. Here is a list of some of the earlier ones:

During the period 1921 to around 1965, Newington was officially just a sub-depot of the Naval (later RAN) Armament Depot, Sydney. The size of the war-time depot, however, necessitated some additional descriptors so common usage was to refer to the Newington Depot (northern end), the Homebush Depot (brickworks), the Auburn Depot (southern end) and the Carnarvon Depot (ex US Navy area).

RANAD Newington sign

Speaking generally, the following terms used for places like Newington are synonymous:

The term "Arsenal" is more usually applied to places where munitions are manufactured - in the Australian context the term is rarely used after about 1930 but could well be applied to a government filling factory or explosives factory of the period 1910 through 1980. It could also be applied collectively in an all-encompassing sense, e.g. "The Australian government's naval arsenal."

In 1826 the Sydney Gazette (24 May 1826) reported that:

"Goat Island, ... is on the eve of being converted into a naval arsenal, and Mr. Nicholson, the Master Attendant, who seems highly delighted with the measure, is most anxious that the views of His EXCELLENCY may be promptly carried into the fullest effect."

The terms "Armory" and "Magazine" both have multiple meanings. Armory may mean a building or group of buildings used to store explosives, but may also apply to a secure area within a building used for the storage of small arms weapons, e.g. "The pistols were kept within the base armory.". The original usage of "magazine" was in the singular, but as one magazine never seems to be enough, the term was extended to cover a group of magazines. Thus it may mean a group of buildings used to store explosives or a single building within the group. It would be quite correct to refer to the Isolation magazine at the Newington Magazine. In a technical context, "magazine" was also used as distinct from "explosives storehouse" to denote a place used to store dusty explosives that require special precautions. Magazine also has the alternative meanings of a space within a warship or fort used for the storage of ammunition and the attachment for an automatic weapon from which the ammunition is dispensed.

The term "Magazine" (alternatively, Powder Magazine or Gunpowder Magazine) was in common use early in the 17th century, e.g.:

"1637, 17th November. Office of Ordnance. Officers of Ordnance to Lords of the Admiralty. Mr. Cordewell has brought into his Majesty's Magazine from 1st November 1636 to 7th November 1637 several quantities of good corn gunpowder, of which a detailed account is given, and which amount in the whole to 240 lasts, which is his full year's proportion according to his contract. (S. P. Dom. Charles I, vol. ccclxxi, No. 117.)"

In the earliest days of the Sydney colony the term "magazine" was used for government storehouses generally; it was only after about 1820 that usage narrowed to refer specifically to gunpowder magazines.

"Magazine" is derived from the French magasin, from Italian magazzino, from Arabic makhazin, plural of makhzan, a store-house.

For colloquial use, the terms "ammo dump" and "bomb dump" may not be pretty, but people will generally understand what you are referring to.


A Newington Story

This story may be apocryphal but it is said that at one time there was a signpost at the corner of Silverwater Road and Holker Street at Silverwater pointing the way to the "Newington Magazine". A letter was received at the depot one day addressed to:

"The Editor
Newington Magazine"

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Robert Curran
borclaud @ tpg.com.au