Fullers Bridge over Lane Cove River | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Fullers Bridge over Lane Cove River

Item details

Name of item: Fullers Bridge over Lane Cove River
Other name/s: RTA Bridge No. 105; Jenkins Bridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -33.79277777777778 Long: 151.15666666666667
Primary address: Delhi Road, Chatswood West, NSW 2067
Local govt. area: Willoughby
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Delhi RoadChatswood WestWilloughby  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Fullers Bridge has historic, technical and aesthetic significance and rarity value within NSW. The bridge constituted a long anticipated element of public infrastructure, shaping the history of the Willoughby and Lane Cove areas by providing permanent access across the Lane Cove River when road routes linking these areas were few and far between. It is one of the earlier extant examples of reinforced concrete bridge technology in the State, and of the concrete beam form in particular, and is identified as the first continuous reinforced concrete girder bridge in NSW. It is a comparatively large and ambitious structure, even by comparison with concrete beam bridges of later decades. It has pleasing lines with a general camber and curved beam soffits, forming a landmark on the Lane Cove River, Delhi Road and in the surrounding recreational landscape. The bridge has rarity value in NSW as a good, intact example of a continuous beam reinforced concrete bridge constructed prior to 1925.
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: Department of Public Works - individuals unknown
Physical description: This reinforced concrete beam bridge is constructed over a tidal stretch of the Lane Cove River. It is a six span structure, with four longitudinal deck beams on an over-vertical curve or camber. The beams have soffits which are parallel with the deck over most of their length, but curve down to the piers. The piers consist of two columns each supported by timber piles with pilecaps. The pier columns have a square core cross section with large chamfers, giving an octagonal appearance, with four tapered thickenings or buttresses. The deep headstock connecting the columns supports the four deck beams. The deck is continuous from one abutment to the other.

On the upstream side of the deck a timber walkway has been installed, supported by steel cantilever beams connected under the edge of the deck. The original pipe handrails have been replaced by guardrailing. The bridge also supports utility pipes on its downstream side.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge appears to be in good condition for its age. From RTA file reports, scour of the piles has caused at least one pier to settle, with resultant deck distress. This appears to have been successfully repaired. The abutments are flanked with hand packed squared stone, which also lines the riverbank upstream and downstream of the bridge.' (Last updated: 21/10/2004.)

2007-08 condition update: 'Poor.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Date condition updated:17 Apr 09
Modifications and dates: The footbridge was added shortly after World War Two. Proposals to add expansion joints appear not to have been acted on.
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge


Historical notes: The first systematic use of the Chatswood West and Lane Cove areas by European settlers was through government-supervised timbergetting to supply the building needs of the colony and its fleet, from the late eighteenth century. Hynd's Wharf or (Fidden's Wharf), upstream from Fullers Bridge, was a Government Sawing Establishment, which fell out of use prior to 1831. By the early 1830s, Henry Maher was working an orchard of some twelve acres and seven hundred trees on the flat opposite Blue Gum Creek adjacent to the subject bridge. (Russell, 1970, p. 48) Settlement further to the west on the Wiannamatta Shale soils of the Ryde and Eastwood areas, beyond the Field of Mars Common, was extensive by the mid nineteenth century. In the eastern part of Lane Cove, however, although some villa farms were established later in the century, agricultural industry and settlement was never extensive and even in the 1940s the banks of the Lane Cove River were characterised by a scattering of orchards and dairies set in bushland (Kennedy, 1982, pp. 73-7; Howard and Associates, 1981) The Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers formed both an opportunity for and an obstacle to transport. The Lane Cove area, on the north shore of the confluence of the two rivers, remained somewhat isolated from Sydney until the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Burns Bay Road links in the mid twentieth century. Various punt and ferry services connected the north shore settlements to Sydney in the nineteenth and early twenties centuries, such as the Bedlam Point-Abbotsford Punt commenced in the 1820s, Joubert's Lane Cove River ferry service of the 1860s and the services of the Upper Lane Cover Ferry Company operating in the 1910s, which provided for tourists and sightseers as well providing important access for residents of the upper reaches of the river. (Walker, 1984, pp. 32, 36, 41-2, 49, Russell, 1970, pp.138-9) The Lane Cove River also provided opportunities for industry requiring a plentiful water supply, most notably the Cumberland Paper Mills, which operated 1912-1928, straddling Stringy Bark Creek, a major tributary, and Clifford Love's Chicago Cornflour Mills, which operated adjacent to the subject bridge. (Russell, 1970, p.140)

The line of road along Delhi, Millwood and Fullers Roads provides a link between the centre of Chatswood, on the Pacific Highway, and the North Shore Rail line at Chatswood with areas to the west. The joining of the route across the Lane Cove River appears to have taken place in the early twentieth century, with the construction of Fullers Bridge in 1918. An 1899 Parish map shows that there was no crossing of the Lane Cove River in the vicinity of the current Fullers Bridge. Rather, in 1899 Millwood and Fullers Roads reached the river from the east on approximately their current alignment and a wharf was located at their joint terminus until 1918. The line of road approaching the river from the west (the present Delhi Road), however, is shown turning north as it approaches the river and meeting the river several hundred metres upstream of the current crossing. (Department of Lands website, Parish Map Willoughby 14019101; Russell, 1970 p. 140) A cutting and new road alignment on the western side of the river was most likely completed to convey traffic to the new bridge.

The Willoughby Mayor's Minute Book, records a meeting of the Willoughby and Lane Cove Councils on 5 September 1898 to discuss the provision of a bridges over the Lane Cove River to provide improved communication with the Field of Mars. The sites under consideration were Fullers Road, and Mowbray Road to the south. The final decision about the siting was to be made by the Minister of Works. Evidently the Fullers Road site was eventually selected. The first bridge on the Mowbray Road site was constructed in 1940. It appears that the reinforced concrete beam bridge at Fullers Road was designed by the Department of Public Works. Tenders for its construction were let in 1915 and Fullers Bridge was completed in 1918. The bridge was originally intended to carry a tram to the Field of Mars Cemetery, as the slope of Fullers Road was too steep for horses to negotiate. (Willoughby City Library: Willoughby City Facts, Fact Sheet no 17) It is not known whether a tram service eventuated.

Fullers Creek Bridge is a reinforced concrete beam bridge of six spans. Reinforced concrete made its first appearance in bridge construction in NSW in the 1890s, and the first reinforced concrete bridge in the State, over Read's Gully near Tamworth was constructed in 1900. Five years later, the bridge over the Hawkesbury River at Richmond (RTA Bridge No. 429) was constructed, consisting of thirteen Monier style arches, and this remained the longest reinforced concrete bridge in the State for the next 25 years. The number and scale of concrete bridges built in New South Wales over the next decade was small. Included were a concrete beam bridges at Rockdale in 1907, a beam bridge over American Creek near Figtree in 1914 (now replaced), a similar bridge over Mullet Creek, Dapto (now replaced) and concrete beam bridge at Throsby Creek Wickham, both constructed in 1916. Concrete slab bridges were constructed over Muttama Creek at Cootamundra (RTA Bridge No 6438) in 1914 and over Surveyors Creek at Walcha (RTA Bridge No. 3485), in 1916. Fullers Bridge of 1918 has been described as 'the first true continuous girder reinforced concrete bridge' in the State, and was the largest concrete bridge to be built since the 1905 bridge over the Hawkesbury River. (BRW and HAAH 2003 pp. 23-4). In the period 1925-1948, reinforced concrete bridges, and most particularly those of beam or girder construction, became a staple in the repertoire of the Department of Main Roads, providing an efficient and often aesthetically pleasing solution to a wide range of crossing types. (DMR, 1976, pp.169, 170). Based on RTA bridge database records, reinforced concrete beam or girder bridges were the most common form of concrete bridge construction to 1948, with more than 160 extant. These bridges on the State's main roads and highways, constructed to replace high-maintenance and aged timber bridges or open crossings, along with other road improvements, ushered in the age of comfortable motor transport and efficient road transport of goods and produce to which we are accustomed today.

Fullers Bridge has also been known as Jenkins Bridge, named after a family who settled in the vicinity in the 1860s. Part of their home is still preserved amongst the Lane Cove National Park buildings. A 1932 Sydney Morning Herald article claimed that the bridge was 'noted for its beautiful curve, or more technically camber' (Willoughby City Library: Willoughby City Facts, Fact Sheet no 17)

By 1939 the adjacent Fullers Park was a very popular spot for picnicking and sight seeing, and the bridge was much used by pedestrians crossing to the kiosk on the opposite side of the river, as well as motor traffic. At this stage the construction of a footway on the bridge was considered but deferred. In 1940 tenders were twice called for the construction of a concrete footway, but none were received. The provision of a footway was then deferred until after the war, with a steel and timber footway finally constructed in 1956/7. (RTA General File490.1609, Parts 1 and 2)

In 1944 workers who were engaged on substantial but routine repairs of the bridge noted serious cracking in one of the girders. It was found that two of the timber piles supporting the piers of the bridge had been subject to serious terredo worm attack and parts of the bridge were sinking. Underpinning was immediately carried out by the DMR, to whom the responsibility for the bridge's maintenance had passed. The timber pile systems supporting two of the piers were replaced with new concrete piles, one of the piers was encased in a concrete cylinder, and substantial repairs were undertaken to the girders and deck of the bridge. Associated repair works continued into 1950 (RTA General File490.1609;1) Subsequently, only minor repairs have been necessary. From 1945 the replacement of the bridge with a wider, higher level bridge on an improved alignment was considered, but has not been carried out. (RTA File 'New Bridge over Lane Cove River near Fullers Bridge' 490.1197, 1945-73; RTA General File490.1609;2)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
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)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Fullers Bridge has local historic significance as a long anticipated element of public infrastructure shaping the history of the Willoughby and Lane Cove areas by providing permanent access across the Lane Cove River when road routes linking these areas were few and far between. As well as opening the area to the east and north to residential development, the bridge has made possible tourist access to the popular National Park adjacent. As an early example of a sizeable reinforced concrete bridge, identified as the first continuous reinforced concrete girder bridge in NSW, the bridge has significance as part of the history of the development of concrete bridge design and construction, a technology that gained an important place in the State's road infrastructure through the mid twentieth century.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Fullers Bridge has technical significance as an early example of a sizeable reinforced concrete bridge, identified as the first continuous reinforced concrete girder bridge in NSW.

The bridge has pleasing lines with a general camber and curved beam soffits. It is a visually distinctive structure and from the road and river perspectives has landmark qualities. The parkland, restaurant and river settings adjacent offer ample opportunities for its appreciation and interpretation.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
As an early example of the use of the beam bridge form and probably the first continuous reinforced concrete girder bridge in the State, Fullers Bridge has the capacity to enhance an understanding of the development and use of the design and material in NSW.
SHR Criteria f)
The bridge has rarity value in NSW as a good, intact example of a continuous beam reinforced concrete bridge constructed prior to 1925.
Integrity/Intactness: High, only superficial modifications to railings, addition of footway and utility pipe.
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     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Heritage Study of Pre-1948 Concrete Beam Bridges (Sthn, Sth West, Sydney)2005 Burns and Roe Worley and Heritage Assessment And History (HAAH)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBurns and Roe Worley and HAAH Heritage Assessment and History2003Heritage Significance of NSW Concrete Bridges
WrittenDepartment of Main Roads1976The Roadmakers: A History of Main Roads in New South Wales
WrittenHoward and Associates1981Stringy Bark Creek Valley Landscape Study
WrittenKennedy, Brian and Barbara1982Sydney and Suburbs, a History and Description
WrittenRussell, Eric1970Lane Cove, 1788-1970, A North Shore History
WrittenWalker, Meredith1984Hunters Hill Heritage Study

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: 4309576

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