Annandale (Johnston Street) Underbridge | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Annandale (Johnston Street) Underbridge

Item details

Name of item: Annandale (Johnston Street) Underbridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Primary address: Johnston Street and The Crescent, Annandale, NSW 2039
Local govt. area: Leichhardt


North: Edge of underbridge girder on The CresecentSouth: Edge of underbridge girder on Johnson StreetEast: Up side of brick abutmentWest: Down side of brick abutment
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Johnston Street and The CrescentAnnandaleLeichhardt  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Annandale (Johnston Street) underbridge has local significance as an integral part of a separate railway network built between 1910 and 1922 for freight trains to traverse the metropolitan area independent of the passenger train network. The independent freight train network was a highly effective solution to the competing demands of the freight and passenger services on an otherwise congested metropolitan system. The riveted steel half-through Pratt truss bridge is significant as an example of a heavy-duty structure in keeping with NSW Railways design policy to allow for anticipated future heavy traffic loads, locomotives and rolling stock. This type of half-through Pratt truss is comparatively rare in the NSW railway system. The bridge retains its original fabric and structure.
Date significance updated: 24 Jun 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: 1920-1922
Physical description: UNDERBRIDGE (1920)
A two-span half-through (pony) Pratt truss bridge of riveted steel crossing Johnston Street and The Crescent. Each span is supported by brick piers and brick abutments. Overhead catenary frames carry electric wires for the double-track light rail system which crosses the bridge.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good condition: Functionally sound structure.
Date condition updated:15 May 09
Modifications and dates: 1996: upgrade of line for light rail including erection of overhead frames for electric wires.
Current use: Carries the double track Light Railway
Former use: Carried the double track Metropolitan Goods Line


Historical notes: The Annandale (Johnston Street) underbridge was constructed in c1920-21 as the final part of the Metropolitan Goods Line linking the Darling Harbour Goods Yard with the Rozelle Yard. The Metropolitan Goods Line served as a separate rail system for freight trains so they could move independently of the passenger services but could also link into the four main lines (north, west, south and Illawarra) at specific locations. A large marshalling yard was built in the middle of the Metropolitan Goods Line network (at Enfield) to centralise the interchange of freight traffic. The separation of goods traffic had been an ongoing concern for the railways since the 1880s, when the Darling Harbour Goods Yard was established. It continued to be an issue as freight train movements increased through the early years of the twentieth century.

The completion of the goods line was directly associated with the Sydney Harbour Trust's completion of the Pyrmont (Jones Bay) wharfs, which were considered the most up-to-date and advanced in the port, with rail lines running along each of the wharfs. The goods line provided a continuous loop connection through Central Station Yard, Darling Harbour Goods Yard and the Pyrmont wharfs, with connections to Rozelle Yard, White Bay and Glebe Island. In this period, Sydney Harbour was the main port for NSW and the goods line provided a direct connection between rural Australia, growing wheat and wool and mining coal, and the ships carrying the goods to export markets. Imported goods arriving on the docks were back-loaded onto the empty trains for distribution around the state. Work began on the line around 1910 with the goods line from Rozelle to the northern end of Darling Harbour completed and opened for traffic on 23 January 1922.

Between Darling Harbour and Rozelle a series of underbridges, viaducts and tunnels were constructed to carry the line through the suburban landscape. At the time of the goods line project, railway bridge engineers had standardised the span-ranges for the three most common types of riveted steel bridges to be used in NSW: plate-web girder spans from 40 to 80 feet (12 to 24m), half-through truss spans with no overhead bracing from 80 to 120 feet (24 to 37m), and full-height trusses with overhead bracing for spans 120 feet or more. The widths of streets crossed by the goods lines were such that only plate-web girders and half-through trusses were necessary. The bridges were all designed for loads much greater than contemporary use so as to be long-serving structures as rail traffic loads and speeds increased over time.

The Annandale (Johnston Street) underbridge is an example of a modified Pratt-truss design bridge. The Pratt truss design was preferred for railway use in NSW after 1892, with riveted-steel construction for railway bridges becoming the standard from this time.

While nearly all the underbridges - a mix of brick arches, steel girders and steel trusses - are still in use, the goods line itself was closed in 1996 from Dulwich Hill to Darling Harbour and the track replaced with new track suitable for light rail. The light rail continues to utilise the Annandale (Johnston Street) underbridge.

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 Building the railway network-
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 Rail to ship interchange-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The separate railway network (1910-22) for freight trains to traverse the metropolitan area independent of the passenger train network was one of the most significant and effective railway projects in New South Wales during the twentieth century. The steel truss underbridge at Johnston Street, Annandale is an important infrastructure component of this system (Fraser, 2000).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Annandale (Johnston Street) underbridge has aesthetic significance as a good example of a Pratt truss underbridge of riveted steel. The underbridge is a prominent landmark in the Annandale area.
SHR Criteria f)
Among steel-truss railway bridges in New South Wales, half-through Pratt trusses are relatively few, so the Annandale (Johnston Street) underbridge is considered to be rare (Fraser, 2000).
SHR Criteria g)
The Annandale (Johnston Street) underbridge is a representative example of a form of truss bridge design favoured by the NSW railways after 1892. It is one of three examples on the former Metropolitan Goods Line, the other two being at Railway Parade and Wentworth Park Road.
Integrity/Intactness: Integrity and intactness are both good.
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:

1. Conservation principles: Conserve cultural heritage significance and minimise impacts on heritage values and fabric in accordance with the ‘Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance’. 2. Specialist advice: Seek advice from a qualified heritage specialist during all phases of a proposed project from feasibility, concept and option planning stage; detailed design; heritage approval and assessment; through to construction and finalisation. 3. Documentation: Prepare a Statement of Heritage Impact (SOHI) to assess, minimise and prevent heritage impacts as part of the assessment and approval phase of a project. Prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) prior to proposing major works (such as new additions, change of use or proposed demolition) at all places of State significance and all complex sites of Local significance. 4. Maintenance and repair: Undertake annual inspections and proactive routine maintenance works to conserve heritage fabric in accordance with the ‘Minimum Standards of Maintenance & Repair’. 5. Movable heritage: Retain in situ and care for historic contents, fixtures, fittings, equipment and objects which contribute to cultural heritage significance. Return or reinstate missing features or relocated items where opportunities arise. 6. Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage: Consider all aspects of potential heritage significance as part of assessing and minimising potential impacts, including Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage. 7. Unidentified heritage items: Heritage inventory sheets do not describe or capture all contributory heritage items within an identified curtilage (such as minor buildings, structures, archaeology, landscape elements, movable heritage and significant interiors and finishes). Ensure heritage advice is sought on all proposed changes within a curtilage to conserve heritage significance. 8. Recording and register update: Record changes at heritage places through adequate project records and archival photography. Notify all changes to the Section 170 Heritage & Conservation Register administrator upon project completion.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerRailcorp S170 Register    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
S170 Heritage & Conservation Register Update2009 Godden Mackay Logan  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDon Fraser1995Bridges Down Under: The history of railway underbridges in NSW
WrittenJohn Oakes2001Sydney's Forgotten Goods Railways

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: 4803229

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