Menangle rail bridge over Nepean River | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Menangle rail bridge over Nepean River

Item details

Name of item: Menangle rail bridge over Nepean River
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Location: Lat: -34.1179846012 Long: 150.7437140180
Primary address: Main Southern railway, Menangle; Gilead, NSW 2571
Local govt. area: Wollondilly
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Tharawal
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT3000 DP1211521
LOT3001 DP1211521

Boundary:

The listing boundary is the area on which the bridge is located including abutments, supports, embankments and approaches and an area described by a line approximately 50 metres from the bridge in all directions.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Southern railwayMenangle; GileadWollondilly  Primary Address
Main Southern railwayMenangleCampbelltown   Alternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Rail Infrastructure CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:



The 1863 Menangle Railway Bridge constructed in 1863 over the Nepean River is one of the most historic bridges in Australia because (a) it was the first large iron bridge in New South Wales and the largest bridge until the 1889 Hawkesbury River Bridge (b) it has a dominant appearance in a rural landscape (c) it shares in the enormous benefits, social and commercial, that the Main South Railway has made to New South Wales in 140 years and (d) it was a technically advanced design for its time and received international recognition in 1872.

The Menangle and Victoria Bridges are the only bridges of their type in New South Wales. They are excellent examples of heavy duty, wrought iron girder bridges continuous over three spans. Apart from the inclusion of the intermediate piers in 1907, the 1863 Menangle Bridge Retains most of its original fabric. (DRAFT)


The Menangle rail bridge constructed in 1863 is the oldest surviving bridge on the State rail system and is of highest significance in the development of railway technology in the State. It is an excellent example of early bridge construction. The bridge is one of two identical bridges constructed for the NSW Railways, the other being over the Nepean River at Penrith. The Penrith Bridge was opened in 1867 but has been used for road traffic since 1907. The Menangle rail bridge is typical of British bridge engineering of the 1860s, the iron spans having been fully imported. Additional supporting piers were later erected under the spans so that heavier engines could be used on the main south line. The bridge is of national, if not international, significance as there are few such bridges still in use in the United Kingdom.
Date significance updated: 16 Apr 03
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: John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief, Railways Branch, Department of Public Works
Builder/Maker: Messers Peto, Brassey and Betts
Construction years: 1863-1863
Physical description: Since 1907, when intermediate piers were built in the middles of the 3 original 49.4 m (162 feet) spans, the bridge has been 6 x 24.2 m (79.3 feet) spans. Between the original stone abutments, these additional brick piers alternate with the original stone piers.

The superstructure consists of two massive, wrought iron, cellular (box) girders, continuous from abutment to abutment, no breaks at the piers. These 3.8 m (12.5 feet) deep girders are at 7.8 m (25.5 feet) centres which allows for double track between them, supported on a series of closely spaced cross girders.

On the outer surfaces of the girders there are pairs of curved angle iron suggesting the inclusion of an arch. These are purely decorative, there is no arch action, the superstructure
is a girder.

At the Sydney end, one of the ornamental tops to a pier was demolished by a derailment in 1976. The iron bridge received only localised superficial damage but the stonework was not replaced, thereby leaving the cellular cross section of the girder exposed.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physcial condition is good.
Date condition updated:26 Apr 06
Modifications and dates: The principal modification was the building of the intermediate piers in 1907 which, by halving the original spans, greatly increased the load capacity of the bridge such that it is still in service carrying modern heavy, fast rail traffic.

The original iron bridge was flanked by timber viaducts which were replaced by steel girders in 1923.

In 1993 Consulting Engineers, Dames & Moore of North Sydney, recommended a number of actions for a general refurbishment of the main bridge, some minor repairs, cleaning up and painting, maintenance to the bearings and the like, but no major changes.
Current use: Carries the double track Main South Railway
Former use: Carries the double track Main South Railway

History

Historical notes: The 1863 Menangle Bridge is the first large iron railway bridge erected in New South Wales, whereas the first large railway bridge, an 8-span stone arch viaduct, was opened at Lewisham in 1855.

When John Whitton planned the railway extension from Campbelltown to Picton, he was under pressure from government to keep costs low by using as much local material as possible. A metal girder design had been proposed by contractors Peto, Brassey and Betts but Whitton substituted a timber bridge made from ironbark and other strong hardwoods, a relatively short 151 m (496 feet), low level crossing.

However the flood of 1860, some 18.3 m (60 feet) above the proposed rail level, caused him to design a high level, large span bridge to maximise the waterway, flanked by long timber approach viaducts, a total of 582 m (1,909 feet). It was a massive structure for its time, comprising 5,909 cubic yards of masonry, 1,089 cubic yards of brickwork and 936 tons of wrought iron for a total cost of 94,562 pounds.

The iron superstructure was manufactured in England at the Canada Works, Birkenhead (opposite Liverpool) and shipped out in December 1861. One ship arrived in Sydney in April 1862 but the other was wrecked at the entrance to the Mersey River. However, the replacement ironwork was delivered to Sydney in December 1862.

Construction of the stone (quarried locally) abutments and piers were completed in October 1862 and the iron bridge was assembled ready for service by June 1863. Load testing, by three locomotives in full steam, followed and the line to Picton was opened on 1 July 1863.

The use of a continuous superstructure was technically significant because the analysis of such structures was a relatively new, sophisticated procedure. Also, it showed that Whitton and Fowler (London) appreciated the structural benefits that a continuous girder over three spans offered compared to three simply-supported spans.

The sister bridge to the Menangle Bridge was the Victoria Bridge over the Nepean River at Penrith. Their sizes and design were such that they were featured in an international text book Modern Examples of Road and Railway Bridges by William H Maw and James Dredge, London, 1872.

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)-
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 transport-
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 and maintaining the public railway system-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - providing rail transport-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The 1863 Menangle Railway Bridge over the Nepean River is one of the most historic bridges in Australia. It was the first large iron bridge in New South Wales and the largest bridge until the 1889 Hawkesbury River Bridge.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The bridge has a dominant appearance in a rural landscape, partly obscured by excessive growth of adjacent trees.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Main South Railway has been an enormous benefit to the social and commercial development of the southern quarter of New South Wales for 140 years, and this bridge,
part of the original railway construction, has shared in the significance of that contribution.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The 3-span continuous girder design was, for the 1860s, a technically sophisticated deign that was noted in an international 1872 text book. The cellular construction, whereby the top and bottom parts of the girders are made in the form of two boxes or cells, was a recent development for resisting lateral buckling arising from the famous experiments by Fairfairn and Hodgkinson for the 1849 Britannia Bridge in Wales.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The Menangle and Victoria Bridges are the only bridges of their type in New South Wales.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
The Menangle and Victoria Bridges are excellent examples of heavy duty, wrought iron girder bridges continuous over three spans.
Integrity/Intactness: Apart from the inclusion of the intermediate piers in 1907, the 1863 Menangle Bridge
Retains most of its original fabric.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0104702 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

References, internet links & images

None

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012102


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