Lansdowne Bridge over Prospect Creek | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Lansdowne Bridge over Prospect Creek

Item details

Name of item: Lansdowne Bridge over Prospect Creek
Other name/s: RTA Bridge No. 291 - Northbound Carriageway over Prospect Creek
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: 150.96722231 Long: -33.89021564
Primary address: Hume Highway (SH 2), Lansvale, NSW 2166
Local govt. area: Fairfield
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Hume Highway (SH 2)LansvaleFairfield  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Lansdowne Bridge is considered to be one of the finest examples of Colonial Architecture in Australia as well as David Lennox's masterpiece of design (Sheedy 1973). Lansdowne Bridge was built by convicts during 1834 to 1836. The sandstone arch has the largest span of any surviving masonry bridge in Australia. The size, appearance and durability make this bridge an outstanding example of colonial engineering (Environmental Management Committee Fairfield Council 1990).

The bridge has been assessed as being of State significance.
Date significance updated: 01 Oct 97
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.


Designer/Maker: David Lennox
Builder/Maker: David Lennox
Construction years: 1834-1836
Physical description: Single arch sandstone bridge with 2 lane carriageway, balustrades and pavements with sandstone flagstones (RTA Technology Database 1998).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'Physical condition is excellent. Archaeological potential is low.' (Last updated: 14/09/1998.)

2007-08 condition update: 'Good.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Date condition updated:17 Apr 09
Modifications and dates: 1834 - construction began
1835 - construction completed
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge


Historical notes: Lansdowne bridge was designed and supervised by David Lennox. Born in Ayr, Scotland in 1788 David Lennox was trained as a stonemason. He worked on Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge at Anglesey in Wales and on Gloucester Bridge where he learnt the sound construction principles he used on his Colonial projects. He emigrated to Australia in 1832.

He immediately found employment as a mason with the government. While working at the Legislative Council Chambers in Macquarie Street, Sydney, Lennox met the Surveyor-General Sir Thomas Mitchell.

The Surveyor-General lost little time in submitting Lennox's credentials to the Governor, describing him as 'a very well qualified person recently arrived in the Colony.' Acting on Mitchell's recommendation, Governor Bourke provisionally appointed Lennox as a Sub-Inspector of Bridges at a salary of 120 pounds per annum. In June 1833 the position was confirmed by London as Superintendent of Bridges.

In 1832 a sum of 1083 pound was voted for the construction of a bridge at the point where the main Southern Road crossed Prospect Creek. Mitchell recommended Lennox as overseer because of his success on other projects. In May 1833 Lennox moved into the Greyhound Inn near the site of the bridge.

Lennox asked for the retention of convicts who had worked particularly well on the Lapstone bridge and also asked the Governor to permit removal of the prisoner's irons for the remainder of their sentences. Governor Bourke agreed in the case of four of the convicts with a promise to review the request in six months for two of the others.

After a lengthy search, stone of excellent quality was found on the right bank about eleven kilometres downstream from the site of the bridge. As the quarry site was near the river bank it was decided to punt the stone to the construction site by making the best use of the tides.

In July 1833 Lennox told Mitchell of a mutiny that had occurred at the quarry while he had been away on an inspection tour. Some of the convicts had rebelled and had consumed the contents of a nearby liquor still. Returning to the camp drunk they threatened to kill the supervisor and destroy the camp and quarrying equipment. The police from Liverpool were called and arrested the offenders. Retribution at Liverpool Court was swift and savage; those who were spared the chain gang received up to fifty lashes of the 'cat'.

On 1 January 1834, Governor Bourke visited the site of the bridge to lay the foundation stone. Within hours of the laying of the inscription plate it was stolen. Lennox made arrangements to obtain a duplicate plate but the original was found and restored to the bridge.

On 7 June 1834 Lennox applied for more labourers, the bridge being at a stage where the centring could commence. This was the construction of a rigid timber frame to hold each stone in place until the arch became self-supporting. It was a critical process and any inaccuracies would cause instability or collapse the arch.

Upon receiving a report that the bridge was nearing completion, Governor Bourke selected Tuesday, 26 January 1836 for the official opening date, as this coincided with the 48th anniversary of the Colony's foundation. The Lansdowne Bridge was not ready for several months as the Toll House was not complete. Once tolls started to be collected however, the bridge soon recovered its cost and in 1844 annual receipts were 685 pounds. (George 1982)

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)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Lansdowne Bridge is considered to be one of the finest examples of Colonial Architecture in Australia as well as David Lennox's masterpiece of design. (Sheedy 1973) Lansdowne Bridge was built by convicts during 1834 to 1836. (Environmental Management Committee Fairfield Council 1990)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The sandstone arch has the largest span of any surviving masonry bridge in Australia. The size, appearance and durability make this bridge an outstanding example of colonial engineering. (Environmental Management Committee Fairfield Council 1990)
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.


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

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenD Sheedy1973National Trust Classification Card - Lansdowne Bridge
WrittenEnvironmental Management Committee - Fairfield Council1990Heritage Conservation in Fairfield City - Meeting notes
WrittenVance George1982Fairfield: a History of the District

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: 4301042
File number: S91/01711

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