Devlins Creek Bridge | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Devlins Creek Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Devlins Creek Bridge
Other name/s: RTA Bridge No. 374
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -33.765 Long: 151.0822222222222
Primary address: Beecroft Road, Epping, NSW 2121
Local govt. area: Hornsby
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Beecroft RoadEppingHornsby  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Devlins Creek Bridge, completed in 1935, is of Local significance as part of a suite of items in the immediate locale, which are components of past or present transport infrastructure. It demonstrates the state of the art of road and bridge design in the 1930s and about contemporary construction methods. The widening of the bridge is illustrative of changing demands on transport infrastructure over subsequent decades and of the possibility of adapting infrastructure to satisfy those demands. Thus, the bridge makes a significant contribution to the research and educational potential of this locale, which is also home to a mid-nineteenth century sandstone ford, a late nineteenth century brick rail culvert and the concrete M2 bus entry ramp constructed in the 1990s, each of which have their own stories to tell, and in combination can demonstrate aspects of the history of transport in and through the Epping-Beecroft area.
Date significance updated: 28 May 09
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.


Construction years: 1935-1935
Physical description: The bridge is a single span reinforced concrete beam bridge with integral abutments set in typical sandstone country, in what is now both urban and crossed by other transport systems of freeway and rail. The original bridge consisted of a deck with five beams, each with tapered soffits towards the abutments. The bridge is on a skew of approximately 45 degrees. The bridge has been widened on its eastern side by a single span slab, with abutment walls extended for support. The reinforced concrete railings on both sides of the bridge appear similar and may have been constructed at the time of the widening.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge is in good condition with no obvious cracking or other damage. There is some minor evidence of water leaching through the deck. Under the original bridge there are extant pad footings installed as support points under the lines of the deck beams.' (Last updated: 24/05/2004.)

2007-08 condition update: 'Good.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Date condition updated:17 Apr 09
Modifications and dates: As noted above the bridge has been widened and now carries four traffic lanes with a footpath on each side. There are also utility pipes supported both under and beside the deck.


Historical notes: Farms and timber-getting had spread to the Epping area from Parramatta by 1800. Over the next century the area was subdivided into mostly small holdings, with orcharding the main activity, and poultry farming also significant. (McAndrew, 2001, pp. 123, 213) The Great Northern Railway, connecting the area with Sydney, opened in 1886, and early in the new century the Epping railway station was the largest fruit despatching station in the State. The advent of the railway also made the area accessible and attractive for residential development, and through the first decades of the twentieth century suburban streets, houses and gardens increasingly came to characterise the landscape of the Eastwood/Epping, Beecroft/Cheltenham and Hornsby areas. (Kass, Liston and McClymont, 1996, pp. 228, 252-6)

For much of the nineteenth century the Epping area was bounded to the north and east by the Field of Mars Common, instituted by Governor King, with the aim of providing local settlers with additional grazing land to free up their own grants for cropping. Land was gradually released from the Common from 1831and transferred to private individuals. Today's Beecroft-Cheltenham area, however, remained part of the Common until 1874, the boundary between the Common and the freeheld land to the south and east being Devlins Creek, named after James Devlin (1807-1875), a wealthy landowner and trustee of the Common. The Government reclaimed the remaining portion of the Common and then surveyed and subdivided the land in 1886, the land releases coinciding with and helping to fund the new railway. (Hornsby Shire Historical Society, 1980 pp. 11, 48, Walker, 1984, pp. 29, 31, Beecroft and Cheltenham History Group, 1995, pp. 46-57, 70-1, 78-9, Alex McAndrew, 2001, p. 103)

For Aboriginal owners and then early landholders and subsequent locals, Devlins Creek has provided water for domestic and agricultural purposes, food, such as yabbies, and an opportunity for recreation, with a favourite swimming hole of the first half of the twentieth century located downstream of the subject bridge beyond the railway culvert. (Alan, Williams, 'Devlin's Creek' Hornsby Shire Historical Society.) Today's Devlins Creek is much reduced in volume and amenity, but remains an important part of the scenery and habitat of the bushland reserve to the east of the rail line.

Prior to the advent of the Great Northern Railway, the Great North Road, surveyed in 1828/9, which travelled from the Parramatta Road at Five Dock, across the Parramatta River via the Bedlam Point Punt (commenced 1832), north through Ryde and East Denistone to Epping, Beecroft, and eventually Wiseman's Ferry and beyond, forded Devlins Creek just to the east of the present railway culvert. Substantial remains of the historic ford and the sandstone flagging of its approaches are extant immediately downstream of the subject bridge. The Great North Road was severed by the railway, and subsequent road routes to the north from Epping developed around the railway. A number of timber bridges spanned Devlins Creek over the intervening years, most swept away by heavy flooding in 1908, 1915, 1922, 1935 and 1942 (McAndrew, 2001, p. 103-4; Perumal Murphy, 1989, p. 14).

The reinforced concrete beam bridge across Devlins Creek was constructed in 1935, one of over 1,000 bridges built by the Department of Main Roads (DMR) between 1925 and 1940. During that period the Department's engineers adapted existing standards of bridge design to meet the requirements of improved motor vehicle performance. They were generally wider than previously with an improved load capacity. The principal types of bridges constructed during the period were: reinforced concrete beam; concrete slab; steel truss on concrete piers; and timber beam bridges. Concrete was favoured in many instances because it was perceived to be a low maintenance material (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. Within the general group of beam bridges, the main longitudinal members have had various configurations ranging from a simple set of rectangular beams cast integrally with the deck, through beams with curved soffits, to flat soffit decks where the edge beams also form the bridge parapet or sidewall. 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 and efficient motor transport to which we are accustomed today.

Under contract to the DMR, Mr L. G. Bucknell constructed the Devlins Creek Bridge over twenty seven weeks. The bridge was constructed on a skew to Devlins Creek, indicative of the changing relationship between roads and bridges in the 1930s, wherein bridges could be more flexibly designed to accommodate a smooth line of road, whereas previously lines of road were forced to bend to meet the straightest opportunity for a waterway crossing. The Main Roads Magazine of August 1937 features the Devlins Creek crossing to demonstrate the improvements that could be made in road alignment. One photograph shows the old timber bridge crossing Devlins Creek on the square, with the road making a sharp bend on either side of it. A second photograph shows the road sweeping across the creek in a smooth curve, with the bridge only in evidence because of its smartly painted white railings. (Main Roads, August 1937, p. 151; RTA File 201.1265)

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 e)
[Research potential]
In the immediate vicinity of the subject bridge, is a range of structures crossing of Devlins Creek: the remains of the mid-nineteenth century sandstone ford, the brick arch railway culvert and the soaring concrete M2 busway. Together this suite of structures can demonstrate the evolution of transport, both road and rail, in and though the Epping-Beecroft area, an important theme linked to the pattern of development in the area. As part of this suite, the 1935 concrete beam bridge across Devlins Creek, with its later widening, demonstrates the application of 1930s roadmaking technologies and philosophies to this crossing. Its beams with their tapered soffits and clearly visible imprints of timber formwork illustrate its structural properties and construction process. The construction process is also illustrated by remnant pad footings placed on or cut into the natural sandstone outcroppings in the creek bed. The bridge's heavy skew is indicative of the advances in road and bridge planning, design and construction in the 1930s. The widening of the bridge within a few decades of its construction is illustrative of changing demands on transport infrastructure in north western Sydney, and of a way in which such infrastructure can be adapted to satisfy those demands.
Integrity/Intactness: Moderate
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  18 Aug 05   

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
Written  RTA File 201.1265
WrittenBeecroft and Cheltenham History Group1995Beecroft and Cheltenham
WrittenDepartment of Main Roads1976The Roadmakers. A History of Main Roads in New South Wales
WrittenDepartment of Main Roads1937Main Roads Magazine, August 1937
WrittenHornsby Shire Historical Society1980Pioneers of Hornsby Shire
WrittenKass, Liston and McClymont1996Parramatta. A Past Revealed
WrittenMcAndrew, Alex2001An ABC of Epping
WrittenPerumal Murphy1989Drummoyne Heritage Study - Thematic History
WrittenWalker, Meredith1984Hunters Hill Heritage Study

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

rez rez rez rez rez rez
rez 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: 4309587

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

All information and pictures on this page are the copyright of the Heritage Division or respective copyright owners.