Ultimo Road Railway Underbridge | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

Ultimo Road Railway Underbridge

Item details

Name of item: Ultimo Road Railway Underbridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Location: Lat: -33.8811584155 Long: 151.2018212350
Primary address: Darling Harbour goods railway, Ultimo, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan

Boundary:

North: northern end of brick abutments South: southern edge of brick abutments East: eastern edge of underbridge facing Ultimo Road West: western edge of underbridge facing Ultimo Road
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Ultimo RoadUltimoSydney   
Darling Harbour goods railwayUltimoSydney  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Rail Infrastructure CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:

The Ultimo Road underbridge has state significance as the oldest remaining wrought-iron underbridge and a rare triple-girder, plate-web girder bridge on the NSW Railway system. It is a tangible remaining piece of the earliest goods line structures on the NSW railway system and a longstanding piece of the industrial fabric of the Ultimo area. The 1874 bridge represents the first phase of duplication on the NSW system to accommodate increased traffic and increasing adaptation and development to cope with growing loads of larger trains in the early twentieth century as represented by the addition of cast iron columns in 1900.
Date significance updated: 09 Nov 10
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: Engineering staff, Existing Lines branch, Public Works Department.
Construction years: 1879-1879
Physical description: UNDERBRIDGE (1879)
The underbridge over Ultimo Road consists of cast-iron columns supporting wrought iron riveted plate web girders and wrought iron cross beams. Structurally it is a half-through, triple-girder bridge, the centre girder is located between the two tracks. Brick abutments are located on the north and south side of Ultimo Road and add extra support to the underbridge.

Originally a single span of 21.64 m (71 feet), cast iron columns were added on the kerb lines to give three spans, 3.96 m (13 feet) over each footpath and a centre span of 13.72 m (45 feet).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Moderate condition with rust appearing on column heads and on underside cross beams and girders. The running surface and tracks have been covered with a steel cover plate which is rusted through in places. There is some graffiti on the plate web girder.

8/1/`12: Moderate condition with rust appearing on column heads and on underside cross beams and girders. The running surface and tracks have been covered with a steel cover plate which is rusted through in places. There is some graffiti on the plate web girder (LEP).

31/3/2010: Structural asssessment undertaken to advise whether the bridge can be used for pedestrian and cycle use. Our conclusion is that this is possible providing the existing deteriorated deck is replaced by one of lightweight construction and that the public are not allowed on the eastern side of the bridge whilst the western side is being trafficked by locomotives. The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) have advised that safety screens which help prevent objects being dropped onto traffic below, will be required for the bridge and various arrangements of these are suggested. The high voltage cables will need to be protected, at present their protection is insufficient for areas subject to public access. Godden Mackay Logan have provided heritage advice which has guided our recommendations (Taylor Thomson Whitting (NSW) P/L, 2010, 3).
Modifications and dates: c1900: The span was reduced so as to be able to carry heavier rail traffic by inserting cast-iron columns on the kerb lines of Ultimo Road.
c1996: The line was closed to regular traffic
2005: steel cover plates put over remaining track and running surface when it was closed to all traffic.
Current use: Disused Rail Bridge
Former use: Carried double track railway to Darling Harbour Goods Yard.

History

Historical notes: The original rail access to the Darling Harbour area was completed as a single line in September 1855 via a tunnel-like construction called the 'Darling Harbour Dive' ('diving' under George Street). The line crossed over Ultimo Road on a timber beam bridge. This construction was completed before John Whitton arrived in 1856 to become the long-serving Engineer-in-Chief for railways in NSW. Since the line was an existing, operating line, it became the responsibility of the Existing Lines branch, Public Works Department.

By the 1870s goods traffic had increased so much that duplication of the line was planned. This work was completed in 1874 and replacing the timber bridge with a wrought-iron girder bridge followed in 1879 under the direction of George Cowdery, Chief Engineer, Existing Lines branch.

The arrangement of main girders is unusual. Whereas a double-track bridge conventionally has two outer main girders with cross-girders to carry both tracks, Cowdery's designer chose to use an additional main girder between the tracks such that the bridge looks like two single-track bridges sharing a common centre main girder. It is a triple-girder, plate-web girder bridge.

However, the design was inadequate to accommodate the ever-increasing weights of locomotives and rolling stock, so rather than install a new, stronger bridge, the span was reduced c1900 by inserting cast-iron columns on the kerb lines of Ultimo Road.

The line continued to be the main access to Darling Harbour but frequent traffic congestion at the Cleveland Street tunnel led to the building of the Metropolitan Goods Lines network, which reached the northern end of Darling Harbour in 1922 (hence much less traffic used the Darling Harbour Dive).

Sixty years later the Darling Harbour Goods Yard was closed and the area underwent a major redevelopment. The northern railway was made available to the light railway and the southern connection was reverted to a single line to give access to the Power House Museum. The 1879 wrought-iron girder bridge has continued in service throughout these changes. The bridge is no longer in use, having been closed to service in c2005.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Transporting crops-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Transporting agricultural supplies and machinery-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Global economies-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Rail to ship interchange-
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 Wharf and shipping history-
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-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th century suburban developments-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Railway work culture-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working complex machinery and technologies-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Wharfside and Port Work Culture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Ultimo Road railway underbridge is historically significant at a state level for its association with the history of the Darling Harbour area for 120 years. It formed an integral part of the oldest line in NSW (opened the same day as the first passenger line) and is a rare example of a triple-girder wrought-iron bridge on the NSW system.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The Ultimo Road underbridge is associated with the first major upgrade of rail infrastructure in the 1870s and the transition from timber bridges to iron bridges.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The Ultimo Road underbridge has aesthetic significance as a distinctive landmark feature across Ultimo Road. Its wrought-iron columns are fine examples of nineteenth-century decorative ironwork for an industrial structure.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The bridge is technically unusual and interesting as a wrought-iron, triple-girder, plate-web underbridge. It is the oldest plate-web girder in the New South Wales railway system.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The bridge appears to be the only surviving wrought-iron triple-girder structure on the NSW system.
Integrity/Intactness: Much of the original 1879 fabric exists including the c1900 cast-iron columns which changed the structure from a single-span to a triple-span bridge.
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:

The bridge should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the bridge prior to any major works being undertaken (LEP).

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 0106202 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerUltimo (Ultimo Road) UnderbridgeSRA501/SRA7808 Jan 99   
Local Environmental PlanUltimo Street Railway Underbridge    

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA501/SRA78State Rail Authority  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenDeuce Design P/L2013Ultimo Pedestrian Network Design Package - Project: 3376_ASP_UPN: Issue 05/03/2013
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan2012Ultimo Pedestrian Network Stage 2 - Interpretation Strategy
WrittenGodden Mackay Logan2012Ultimo Pedestrian Network Stage 2 - Heritage Impact Statement
WrittenTaylor Thomson Whitting (NSW) P/L Consulting Engineers2010Ultimo Underbridge Structural Report

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

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5012250
File number: 10/3099


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