Gladesville Bridge | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Gladesville Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Gladesville Bridge
Other name/s: RTA Bridge No. 66
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -33.841944444444444 Long: 151.14777777777778
Primary address: Victoria Road, Drummoyne/Huntleys Point, NSW 2047
Local govt. area: Multiple LGAs
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Victoria RoadDrummoyne/Huntleys PointMultiple LGAs  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Gladesville Bridge is of State significance because of its technical, aesthetic and historical qualities. It is a substantial structure built at an important crossing over the Parramatta River, a difficult crossing due to its width and tidal nature. At the time of completion in 1964, the Gladesville Bridge was considered to be a world standard bridge in terms of its design (it was the longest reinforced concrete arch span in the world) and because of the materials and methods used in its construction. It is one of two prestressed concrete arch road bridges in the State (the other being at nearby Tarban Creek), and is still the longest reinforced concrete arch in NSW. Gladesville Bridge thus represents a modern solution to the long-term problem of crossing the Parramatta River at this point, replacing the historically significant five bridges route to Sydney, and the two-lane swing span iron bridge built between Drummoyne and Huntley's Point (to the south west of the present bridge, at a narrower crossing over the Parramatta River), which had opened up suburbs to the north for residential development in the nineteenth century. With the neighbouring bridges at Fig Tree and Tarban Creeks, the Gladesville Bridge also has historic significance as part of the DMR's proposed North West Freeway, initiated in the period following the second world war in order to create a line of road linking Sydney to the northern suburbs and through to Newcastle. All three bridges are vestiges of this unrealised project, abandoned in the 1970s due protests about the freeway's projected route through inner city suburbs such as Glebe and Annandale.
Date significance updated: 17 Nov 04
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Messrs. G Maunsell & Partners (Engineers, London, England), under contract to the DMR.
Builder/Maker: Reed & Mallik Ltd (Engineers, Salisbury, England) and Stuart Bros (Builders, Sydney, Australia)
Construction years: 1959-1964
Physical description: Gladesville Bridge is a four-box pre-stressed concrete arch with a span of 1000 feet (305m) (Main Roads, September 1962, p 8). Its total length including approaches is 579.4m. The roadway across the bridge is '72 feet wide between kerbs and flanked by a six-feet wide footway on each side'. (Main Roads, December 1964, p 54).

The bridge's arch is supported by concrete thrust blocks embedded into sandstone foundations on either side of the Parramatta River. The bridge was constructed as four arches, each made from precast concrete box sections. Each rib of blocks was erected on a falsework system supported on piles. A system of flat jacks was then used to raise the arch rib to allow the construction falsework to be slid sideways to support the construction of the next rib. With the four arches completed, they were stressed together by transverse cables passing through diaphragms, using the Freyssinet stressing system.

On completion of the arch, the slender piers, which are stressed vertically using the Lee McCall system, were constructed on both the arch and approaches. These supported the deck which is a waffle construction of eight longitudinal precast prestressed T beams with four intermediate cast-in-place transverse beams per span, and with cast in place fillers between the T beams. At its northern end the deck flares out from its six lanes to accommodate the diverging traffic lanes feeding both Victoria Road and Burns Bay Road.

Other notable structures in the precinct include the Tarban Creek Bridge, also arched, but with prestressed concrete cantilever approaches, rather than the vertical pier supports of Gladesville Bridge. Also, immediately to the west, crossing Victoria Road is an elegant pedestrian footbridge with sweeping lines, also in prestressed concrete and the complex of overpasses forming the interchange between Victoria Road and Burns Bay Road, and extends northward with the Fig Tree Bridge crossing of the Lane Cove River.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The Gladesville Bridge appears to be in good physical condition thanks to regular maintenance works carried out by the RTA, as it is a heavily trafficked route into and out of Sydney. For example, the railings on either side of the bridge appear to have been recently repainted. The commemorative plaques, however, are in poor condition and could do with cleaning works.

DMR file notes indicate that divers inspected parts of the bridge exposed to water (namely the submerged abutments/thrust blocks) every 6 months from December 1965, to check for spalling in the reinforced concrete and for marine growth. It is unclear whether these inspections continue to be carried out.

The bridge itself has no archaeological potential. However, the abutments of the previous bridge are extant some distance upriver from the present crossing, and display excellent stonework.
Modifications and dates: Gladesville Bridge was widened to accommodate an increased traffic flow, taking in the pedestrian walkways on either side of the roadway. Although originally designed with six lanes, the bridge now has eight lanes. Additions made to fencing along the north eastern side of the Gladesville Bridge appear to have been a later addition, possibly installed to protect housing located beneath this section of the bridge.
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge

History

Historical notes: The Gladesville Bridge, completed in 1964, connects the suburbs of Gladesville, which is located on the northern bank of the Parramatta River, and Drummoyne, which is located on its southern and eastern sides.

Europeans first settled in this part of Sydney soon after landfall at Sydney Cove, when Crown grants of thirty-acre lots were made in the vicinity of Gladesville in the 1790s to encourage agricultural pursuits to the area. Two of the first grantees were John Doody and Ann Benson.

Gladesville is named for convict John Glade, who arrived to the colony in 1791. Glade prospered soon after his arrival, and by 1802 owned 60 acres in the district (encompassing earlier land grants to Doody and Benson). In 1836, Glade received an additional Crown grant of 50 acres between Glades Bay and Looking Glass Bay (including Gladesville Point). In the late 1830s, a limited number of settlers were attracted to the area by the employment opportunities associated with the establishment of the Tarban Creek Asylum in 1837.

The future suburb of Gladesville remained isolated and rural until the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1856, William Whaley Billyard purchased and subdivided the early land grants to Doody, Benson and Glade into large urban building blocks; this subdivision was known as the Gladesville Estate. Billyard promoted land in the Gladesville Estate as suitable for 'gentlemen's residences' and sold blocks on which he had built villas to wealthier settlers of the colony of NSW.

Billyard erected a wharf at Gladesville on the Parramatta River to provide better access to Sydney, and therefore to ensure the sale of land from his estate. This wharf was connected to the Great North Road (now Victoria Road) via Wharf Road, which was also built under instruction from Billyard. In 1881, a bridge was built across the Parramatta River between Drummoyne and Huntleys Point (Gladesville), thereby connecting Gladesville to the rest of Sydney. The first Gladesville Bridge was a 'two lane swing span iron bridge' to the south west of the present Gladesville Bridge (Russell, 1971, p 106). The introduction of tram services to the area in the 1880s meant that both Gladesville, and Drummoyne were increasingly populated from this time.

Drummoyne lies on the eastern side of the Parramatta River from Gladesville, and was also an agricultural district in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. By 1806, land grants to members of the NSW Corps were cancelled and 1,500 acres of land was granted to surgeon John Harris; this land grant was known as Five Dock Farm and encompassed the future suburbs of Five Dock, Drummoyne, Chiswick and Abbotsford. Harris sold Five Dock Farm in 1836, and the following year the estate was subdivided for sale into 30- and 60-acre lots. In 1853, merchant William Wright purchased land in area, and named the suburb Drummoyne after his family home in Scotland.

From the 1860s onwards, local residents agitated for Drummoyne to be connected to Sydney by direct road. By 1882, the Iron Cove bridge between Drummoyne and Rozelle had been completed, which encouraged further subdivision and settlement to the area (as did the Gladesville Bridge to the north). By the 1890s, Drummoyne was being serviced by regular ferry services and a public tram system, encouraging further suburban development. Five Dock and Drummoyne were amalgamated to form the Municipality of Drummoyne in 1902 (the Municipal district of Five Dock, including Drummoyne, had been incorporated in 1871).

By the 1950s, traffic along the original (1881) Gladesville Bridge was becoming congested, commuters complaining of long delays in crossing the bridge. Clearly a new bridge was needed to alleviate traffic build up. In 1959, the Department of Main Roads (DMR) let the contract to build a 'six-lane high level concrete arch bridge over the Parramatta River' to the partnership of Reed & Mallik Ltd (Engineers, Salisbury, England) and Stuart Bros (Builders, Sydney, Australia). The new Gladesville Bridge was built to a design by the engineering firm of Messrs. G Maunsell & Partners (London, England) (Main Roads, September 1961, p 16).

The Gladesville Bridge, described as one of the 'most spectacular of replacement bridges built in the Sydney', was officially opened on 2 October 1964 by Her Royal Highness Princess Marina of Kent and the Hon P D Hills MLA, Deputy Premier, Minister for Local Government and Minister for Highways. The bridge was opened to traffic on 24 October 1964. At the time of its construction, the Gladesville Bridge was the longest reinforced concrete arch span in the world. The new Gladesville Bridge was constructed as part of a program of works undertaken by the DMR in the 1960s to provide a series of freeway systems out of Sydney. The new bridge was to form part of a proposed North Western Freeway leading from Newcastle to the centre of Sydney via the inner city suburbs of Glebe and Annandale. It was one of three projected freeways leading out of the city. The North Western freeway was intended to replace the Five Bridges route (which also included Pyrmont Bridge, Glebe Island Bridge, Iron Cove Bridge and Fig Tree Bridge). By the early 1970s, protests about the route of the proposed freeway through some of Sydney's inner city suburbs (such as Glebe and Annandale) meant that the DMR's plan was never realised. Gladesville Bridge was one of three bridges constructed along this proposed route; the other bridges were the Tarban Creek and Fig Tree Bridges, and as such are vestiges of the DMR's unrealised plans (Ansara and Heimans 2001, pp 84-87).

The DMR regularly inspected the bridge from the time of its completion (1964), until at least the early 1970s. DMR records indicate that divers inspected parts of the bridge exposed to water (namely the submerged abutments and thrust blocks) every 6 months from December 1965, to check for spalling in the reinforced concrete and for marine growth (RTA File 124.1539 Part 1 Drummoyne MR165. Bridge over Parramatta River/Gladesville Bridge in Victoria Road, Drummoyne. General. 1965-1971). It is unclear whether these inspections continue to be carried out, however, oral history testimony from engineers involved with its construction suggest that the bridge has not been rigorously maintained in recent times, with complaints about condition of the concrete (discolouration and spalling) (Ansara and Heimans 2001, pp 90-93).

The roadway of Gladesville Bridge was widened in the 1970s, in order to allow for greater traffic flow over the bridge, and along the heavily trafficked route of Victoria Road. The roadway of the bridge was increased from six lanes to eight, taking in some of the width of pedestrian walkways on either side (Ansara and Heimans 2001, pp 90-93).

At the time of inspection in August 2004, the Gladesville Bridge was in sound structural condition.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Gladesville Bridge has historic significance at a state level as a replacement bridge built at a difficult crossing over the Parramatta River, surpassing an 1881 bridge (to the south west) and the historically significant and well trafficked five bridges route. As such, this crossing has historical importance in the development of Sydney's outer suburbs located around the river, including Gladesville and Drummoyne. Gladesville Bridge also has historic significance because it was built as part of the DMR's proposed North West Freeway, along with bridges at Fig Tree and Tarban Creeks. These three bridges were initiated in the period following the second world war in order to create a line of road linking Sydney to the northern suburbs and through to Newcastle. All three bridges are vestiges of this unrealised project, abandoned in the 1970s due protests about the freeway's projected route through inner city suburbs such as Glebe and Annandale.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Gladesville Bridge has a high level of aesthetic and technical significance. It was built in an era when aesthetic qualities were given high priority, particularly on high profile infrastructure projects such as this. The bridge is impressive and visually distinctive, with striking clean lines, slender pier columns and an elevated deck providing a sweeping appearance to the whole. It forms a landmark from the road, the river and public access points along the shore. At the time of its completion in 1964, Gladesville Bridge was the longest concrete arch span in the world. Whilst this record has now been exceeded, the bridge remains the longest concrete arch in NSW, and due to changing styles of construction it is likely to remain so. It reflects the highest standards in both design and construction, all aimed at producing a structure of the highest quality and with high levels of technical advancement.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Gladesville Bridge has rarity significance because it was built to a design that is no longer favoured by road and bridge building authorities. It is the only prestressed concrete box section arched road bridge in NSW, with the exception of nearby Tarban Creek Bridge which is technically different in a number of ways both in structural form and construction method.
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Study of Heritage Significance of a Group of RTA Controlled Bridges & Ferries2004 HAAH - Sue Rosen and Associates  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Oral HistoryAnsara, Martha and Frank Heimans2001Roads and Traffic Authority Oral History Program: Construction of Gladesville Bridge: Summary Report
WrittenDepartment of Main Road, (DMR)1961Main Roads, September 1961, pp 16-19.
WrittenDepartment of Main Road, (DMR) RTA File 124.1539 Part 1 Drummoyne MR165. Bridge over Parramatta River/Gladesville Bridge in Victoria Road, Drummoyne. General. 1965-1971
WrittenLevy, M.C.I1947Wallumetta, A History of Ryde and its District 1792-1945
WrittenMilne, J W1936A Short Account of the History of Gladesville: Gladesville Centenary 1836-1936
WrittenRussell, Eric1971Drummoyne: A Western Suburbs History 1794, 1871, 1971, published by the Council of the Municipality of Drummoyne
WrittenShaw, Kevin (ed)2002Historic Ryde
WrittenStacey, A W (ed)1980A Basic History of Ryde 1792-1980

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4300309


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