Glebe Island Bridge | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Glebe Island Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Glebe Island Bridge
Other name/s: RTA Bridge No. 61
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Primary address: Victoria Road, Johnstons Bay, NSW 2039
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Victoria RoadJohnstons BayLeichhardt  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Glebe Island Bridge across Johnstons Bay has significance because:

* the current structure has been an important item of infrastructure in the history of Sydney and the inner western suburbs for over 90 years, and its history, going back to 1862 is intimately bound to the development of Sydney in the middle of the 19th century,
* it is an impressive structure sited in the middle of a wide waterway,
* technically, it is a complementary structure to the already acclaimed Pyrmont Swing Bridge and has all the significant features,
* it contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of Sydney and its inner western suburbs, and was a vital component of the "short cut" route from the city to the Great Western Highway,
* it, and its neighbour the Pyrmont Bridge, are rare examples of this type of bridge in New South Wales and are still operated by electrical power in the manner designed by Percy Allan.
* the structure also has one of the last Mercury Arc Rectifiers in Australia that is still performing the function for which it was installed.


The bridge has been assessed as being of State significance.
Date significance updated: 09 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: Percy Allan
Builder/Maker: H McKenzie & Sons
Physical description: The Glebe Island Bridge over Johnstons Bay is an electrically operated low-level steel swing Bridge. It has a large pivot pier founded on a nest of timber piles capped by concrete. The approach spans are two steel deck trusses on stone-faced embankments.

The bridge has an approach span at each end of 24.7m, two main spans of 29.3m and an overall length of 108m. The roadway is 12.2m wide between kerbs and has a 1.5m wide footway.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge is in fair condition, but there are problems to be addressed for its long term survival.' (Last updated: 19/01/2001.)

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

History

Historical notes: The Bridge has been taken out of service following the completion of its giant neighbour, the cable-stayed Anzac Bridge.

Sydney Town had to be declared a city in 1842 and was concentrated in the area currently occupied by the modern CBD. In the mid-1800s it was a mix on commerce, retail, residences, manufacturing works and factories, with the tranquillity of the Gardens east, the port activities west and north and an outlet at its southern border leading to the inner western suburbs via the Parramatta Road which was also the beginning of the Great Western Highway. By then it had become clear that a shorter route out of the city was available, across Johnstons Bay to the Glebe Island and on to Annandale.

The first Glebe Island Bridge was a private venture completed in 1862 and was a timber beam viaduct with a small, one arm, swing span tucked into the Pyrmont shore. After 30 years this bridge was in need of extensive repairs so the Colonial Government bought the structure and its Public Works Department (PWD) began planning replacement bridges here and at Darling Harbour

The bridge had to allow for a high volume of water traffic so, with a high level bridge technically and financially beyond the city's resources, a low-level swing bridge was adopted.

After a select committee had examined a large number of schemes it rejected all and directed the PWD to design the new bridges. The bridge engineer who did this work was Percy Allan and for the Glebe Island Bridge the contractor was H McKenzie and Sons.

For both sites he designed an electrically operated swing bridge, the earliest, use of electrical power for this type of bridge in the world. For the Glebe Island Bridge the large pivot pier was founded on a nest of timber piles capped by concrete whereas the Pyrmont pivot pier was founded on rock. Construction of the trussed swing spans at each site was by simple cantilevering out from the steel pivot ring. Where a Percy Allan used timber trusses for the approaches of the Pyrmont Bridge, for the Glebe Island Bridge he used two steel deck trusses, then stone-faced embankments to reach each shore. The bridge was opened on 1 July 1903 by Miss Lily See, daughter of Premier Sit John See.

But the 1903 swing bridge still retains all the necessary features that make it a bridge of high heritage significance, enhanced by its "big brother" the 1902 Pyrmont Bridge at Darling Harbour. It's difficult not to talk of one without the other, being contemporary bridges with almost identical swing spans.

For more historical information see 'Glebe Island Bridge A Comparative study between it and Pyrmont Bridge' by D Fraser.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Bridge has high historical significance because it was one of the earliest uses of electrical power for this type of bridge in the world. It, and its neighbour the Pyrmont Bridge, are rare examples of this type of bridge in New South Wales and are still opened by electrical power in the manner designed by Percy Allan, it's famous designer. The current structure has been an important item of infrastructure in the history of Sydney and the inner western suburbs for 90 years.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Aesthetically, the Bridge is an impressive structure presenting an attractive reminder of the past. It is sited in the middle of a wide and busy waterway, giving it landmark qualities. As such, the Bridge has aesthetic significance.

Technically, the Glebe Island Bridge has a Mercury Arc Rectifier which is an excellent, unitary example of a historically significant electrical technology whichs is one of the last examples in Australia still performing for the function for which it was installed. It is a key functional component within the operating system for the State - significant Glebe Island Bridge and is historically associated with the cessation of electrical tramway operations in Sydney (Brassil, T. 2011)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Glebe Island Bridge has contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of Sydney and its inner western suburbs, and was a vital component of the "short cut" route from the city to the Great Western Highway. The history of the Bridge helps to give it a very important sense of identity to the local community.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Bridge is a rare example of an electrically operated swing bridge, It was a technically sophisticated bridge structure for its time and was designed by famous Public Works bridge engineer, Percy Allen.

Technically, it is a complementary structure to the already acclaimed Pyrmont Swing Bridge and has all the significant features.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
It is a rare example of an electrically operated steel swing bridge in New South Wales.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
It has all the significant structural and technical features of a swing 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

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenFraser, D J1972Glebe Island Bridge A Comparative study between it and Pyrmont Bridge
WrittenTony Brassil2011Glebe Island Bridge Mercury Arc Rectifier Heritage Assessment

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

rez
(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4301666


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