Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River

Item details

Name of item: Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River
Other name/s: RTA Bridge No. 713
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Primary address: Princes Highway, Nowra, NSW 2541
Local govt. area: Shoalhaven
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Princes HighwayNowraShoalhaven  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Nowra Bridge has significance because:

* it has been an important item of infrastructure in the history of New South Wales for over 120 years,
* it is a technically sophisticated bridge structure and unique for its time,
* it has strong aesthetic lines despite its lightweight appearance,
* it contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of the South Coast District of New South Wales.
* it is associated with the famous American civil engineer and specialist bridge designer, C Shaler Smith.

This bridge has been assessed as being of State significance.
Date significance updated: 19 Mar 01
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: C Shaler Smith
Builder/Maker: Edge Moor Iron Co.
Physical description: The Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales. There are eight main spans supported on eight pairs of cast iron cylindrical piers and a steel girder approach span at one end.

The eight trusses of the Bridge follow the American practice of being tall through trusses with overhead bracing above the traffic and of using large pins at the joints. It has an overall length of 342m: an end truss of 56m, 7 trusses of 38.5m and an approach span of 15m.

There is a 1.3m wide footway and the bridge is 5.8m wide between kerbs.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge is in good condition' (Last updated: 18/01/2001.)

2007-08 condition update: 'Poor.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Date condition updated:17 Apr 09
Modifications and dates: 1981 - Deck upgrading.
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge

History

Historical notes: This unique Bridge was intended for a double track railway use but schemes for a South Coast Railway to Bega never eventuated. In fact when the government railway was completed in June 1893 it stopped on the north side of the river at Bomaderry, never to cross into Nowra on the existing Bridge, so the Bridge has been used for 2-lane road traffic for over 120 years.

The bridge had a timber deck for 100 years until in 1981 reinforced concrete was laid over steel Armco decking. The pairs of cast iron piers are original and were supplied locally by the Atlas Foundry, Sydney. At 1013 feet (309m) overall it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales prior to the 1889 Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

It is unique because it is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales.

















********************
The Nowra Bridge was designed by a famous American civil engineer and specialist bridge engineer, C Shaler Smith, for the Edge Moor Iron Co., a well known bridge fabricator and builder in the USA. The eight trusses of the bridge follow the American practice of being tall through trusses with overhead bracing above the traffic and of suing large pins at the joints because that significantly reduced assembly and erection times. Also unique was the use of steel, imported from the USA, some 14 years ahead of its general use in New South Wales. The popular contemporary metal bridge in New South Wales was the wrought iron, half-through, lattice truss, essentially a British bridge of riveted construction.

An opportunity to compare the two types of bridges occurred during the 1879 International Exhibition in Sydney where a span of each type was assembled in the grounds of the Exhibition area. Although the American truss drew interest and praise from the judges, their final comment that "taking all different points into consideration we concluded that, unless under peculiar circumstances, the lattice type bridge is preferable for both railways and road in this colony". Stifled the introduction of American bridge technology until the mid-1890's.

The bridge had a timber deck for 100 years until in 1981 reinforced concrete was laid over steel Armco decking. The pairs of cast iron piers are original and were supplied locally by the Atlas Foundry, Sydney. At 1013 feet (309m) overall it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales prior to the 1889 Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Bridge has high historical significance because it is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales. At 309m overall it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales prior to the 1889 Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge. It significantly helped open up the Illawarra and South Coast districts. It was designed by the former American civil engineer and specialist bridge engineer, C Shaler Smith.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The bridge exhibits the technical excellence of its design, as all of the structural detail are clearly visible. In the context of its landscape it is visually attractive and has strong aesthetic lines. Unlike most bridges, it is particularly striking to those who use the bridge because it is such a long bridge and users are enveloped in the truss.




The bridge is set in a very wide section of the river. Due to its length and type it is a landmark structure, a gateway to the South Coast. As such, the bridge has high aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The bridge is valued by locals and tourists as it is a major crossing of the Shoalhaven River.

The bridge contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of the South Coast district of New South Wales.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The bridge has high technical significance because it is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales. Also unique was the use of steel, imported from the USA, some 14 years ahead of its general use in New South Wales, It is a rare example of this type of bridge in New South Wales.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in NSW.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
It is a fine representative example of a Whipple truss bridge.
Integrity/Intactness: Intact
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.

Recommended management:

Continued sympathetic management

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 Sig. of pre 1930 RTA Controlled Metal Road Bridges in NSW2001 Cardno MBK  Yes

References, internet links & images

None

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

rez
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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4301658


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