Gasworks Bridge over Parramatta River | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Gasworks Bridge over Parramatta River

Item details

Name of item: Gasworks Bridge over Parramatta River
Other name/s: RTA Bridge No. 592
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Primary address: Macarthur Street, Parramatta, NSW 2150
Local govt. area: Parramatta
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Macarthur StreetParramattaParramatta  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Gasworks Bridge over the Parramatta River, completed in 1885, has significance because:
* it has been an important item of infrastructure in the history of New South Wales for over 115 years,
* it was a technically sophisticated bridge structure for its time,
* it has strong aesthetic lines,
* it contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of western Sydney.
* it is an good representative example of this type of bridge.

The bridge has been assessed as being of State significance.
Date significance updated: 16 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.


Designer/Maker: John A McDonald
Physical description: The Gasworks Bridge over the Parramatta River is a major bridge. It is a 3-span, high level Bridge over a wide river. It has the same deep, rectangular lattice trusses of John A McDonald's early designs, but does not have the diaphragm-tied piers of so many of the other lattice bridges. Here, the bridge is supported on large sandstone piers.

It has three main spans each 31m in length and two steel beam approach spans. The overall length is 110m and the Bridge is a two lane bridge 6.85m wide between kerbs.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'The Bridge is in good condition.' (Last updated: 12/03/2001.)

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


Historical notes: The Gasworks Bridge is an iron lattice bridge and was completed in 1885.

Iron lattice bridges are the most significant bridges of the colonial period. They were the major bridges of their time and carried the burgeoning road network across many of the major rivers in New South Wales. Whereas the construction of timber truss bridges extended over a long period, from the 1860s to the 1930s, and was associated with three prominent engineers in the Department of Public Works (Percy Allen, E M de Burgh and Harvey Dare), the construction of the iron lattice bridges was confined to a short period, from 1881 and 1893, and all were designed by bridge engineer John A McDonald.

The lattice truss is an example of British bridge technology and they appeared in large numbers in the British colonies of Australia, particularly in New South Wales and Victoria and a few examples in the other colonies. These bridges were almost the exclusive choice for large rail and road bridges such that in New South Wales, 41 of these bridges (27 for roads and 14 for railways) were built between 1871 and 1893. Most were in the Hunter Valley and New England region.

They were a more economical form of construction than the heavy cellular girder bridges, requiring only about half the amount of iron, but the iron was still an expensive import (rolling marks such as BUTTERLEY, SHELTON and BURBACH appear on iron elements of many of the bridges). In terms of costs, indexed to the year 2000, the iron lattice bridges would have cost around $9,000 per square metre of deck whereas for timber truss bridges this unit cost would only have been around $1,500. Despite the high initial costs of the lattice bridges, their durability and low maintenance costs have meant that in the long term they have been very cost-effective structures. The iron lattice bridges were, to the colonial period, what reinforced concrete bridges were to the period 1930-60 and prestressed concrete bridges have become since the 1970s.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Bridge has a high historical significance as it is on a main road. It is a large bridge with long spans over a major river, indicative of the then burgeoning road network. It has historic associative value based on its ability to represent the endeavours of local settlers, with their need for safe and reliable access across the Parramatta River. It is associated with bridge designer John A McDonald. It significantly helped open up western Sydney.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Aesthetically, the Bridge with its long lattice trusses and tall sandstone piers presents an imposing yet attractive reminder of the past. It has strong aesthetic lines that enhance the aesthetics of its environment. As such, the bridge has aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Because of their numbers, the complete set of lattice truss bridges gain high social significance. The Bridge also has significance to the local community. The Bridge has contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of western Sydney.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Bridge has high technical significance because of its integrity and good condition, which contribute to its ability to demonstrate aspects of technology, design and style in bridge construction. The Bridge is a good example of British bridge technology.
SHR Criteria g)
A good representative example of an iron lattice 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.


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


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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4301684

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