Sunnyside rail bridge over Tenterfield Creek | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Sunnyside rail bridge over Tenterfield Creek

Item details

Name of item: Sunnyside rail bridge over Tenterfield Creek
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Bridge/ Viaduct
Location: Lat: -28.9852623656 Long: 151.9492228640
Primary address: Main Northern Railway 784.233 km, Sunnyside, NSW 2372
Local govt. area: Tenterfield
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Moombahlene

Boundary:

The listing boundary is the area on which the bridge is located including abutments, embankments, supports and track formation and an area around for a distance of 20 metres in all directions
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Main Northern Railway 784.233 kmSunnysideTenterfield  Primary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Rail Infrastructure CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:

The timber Queen post truss viaduct was an economic bridge for the Glen Innes to Wallangarra Railway at a time when the boom years of the 1880s was ending and funding for railway construction was decreasing. Despite a degree of inaccessibility, the timber viaducts over the Beardy, Severn and Bluff Rivers are impressive structures within their rural landscapes. At Tenterfield, the adjacent New England Highway provides easy viewing of the 4th such viaduct. There are also two more on the Cooma Line.

The Main North Railway made a significant contribution to the development of the New England Region from the time of its construction 1882-88, and the four timber viaducts were important items of the railway's infrastructure. The timber Queen post deck viaduct was a significant structure in place of the expensive iron lattice bridges preferred by John Whitton. The viaducts were technically sound and durable, having been built from renowned ironbark hardwood. They are a unique class of railway bridge.
Date significance updated: 04 Apr 06
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 for Railways
Builder/Maker: Main Contractor for the Tenterfield to Wallangarra section
Construction years: 1888-1888
Physical description: 12km north of Tenterfield.

A 4-span timber truss viaduct, each span is 40 feet centre to centre of timber trestles.

The trusses are deck Queen post copied from one of I K Brunel's Cornish timber bridges, the one called St Germans, built about 30 years earlier.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
4/2006 Condition is fair only due to lack of maintenance since rail services were suspended. 4/2007 reported condition very critical, remedial action needed urgently, viz public safety alone.
Date condition updated:22 Jun 07
Modifications and dates: Betwewem Tamworth and Wallangarra the track is little changed from what was originally built under the guidance of John Whitton. Virtually none of the original tunnels, bridges and station buildings have been replaced. But much of the track has long been derelict (Lewis, 2004).
Current use: Currently out of service
Former use: Carried single track main North Railway

History

Historical notes: When John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief for Railways 1856-1890, extended the Main North Railway from Muswellbrook to Glen Innes, 1870-1884 it climbed through the highest parts of the Great Dividing Range into the New England Region. Gradients were steep, curves were sharp, there was heavy earthworks and some major iron lattice bridges. It was expensive railway construction.

So when the section from Glen Innes to Tenterfield was planned, economies were made, particularly with bridges. They had to be timber, mostly ballast top timber beam bridges but at three locations larger bridges were required, over the Beardy, Severn and Bluff Rivers.

Whitton, a successful railway engineer from England, chose one of the famous I K Brunel's timber bridge viaducts built in Cornwall during the 1850s. The model chosen was the St Germans Viaduct composed of composite deck Queen post trusses, the bottom chords were large iron rods. Whitton's staff redesigned the trusses to be all timber and the viaducts were built during construction of the Glen Innes to Tenterfield section 1884-86.

The final section to Wallangarra,1888, was mostly easier over plateau country but the crossing of Tenterfield Creek required a large bridge and a timber Queen post truss viaduct was built there also, the 4th between Glen Innes and the Queensland border.

Only two other such timber viaducts were built in this period, on the Cooma Line over Ingalara Creek and the Bredbo River, see separate inventories.

Fortmer railways chief David Hill calls the old Great Northern line that first linked Sydney and Brisbane the most important stretch of heritage track in the country.

The Queenslanders reached Wallangarra with their line in 1887. The NSW line came north from Tenterfield in 1888, but because the 2 systems used different track gauges, passengers had to change trains at Wallangarra's unique railway station.

In 1930 a standard gauge track was completed all the way to Brisbane via Kyogle and the Great Northern Railway started to go into decline. The last passenger services went north to Wallangarra in 1972 and to Tenterfield, 20km further south, in 1989. These days Armidale is the end of the line. (Lewis, 2004).

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 a)
[Historical significance]
The timber Queen post truss viaduct was an economic bridge for the Glen Innes to Wallangarra Railway at a time when the boom years of the 1880s was ending and funding for railway construction was decreasing.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
This item is assessed as historically significant due to its association with the early expansion of the NSW railways to colonial borders during John Whitton's tenure as Engineer-in-Chief.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Despite a degree of inaccessibility, the timber viaducts over the Beardy, Severn and Bluff Rivers are impressive structures within their rural landscapes. At Tenterfield, the adjacent New England Highway provides easy viewing of the 4th such viaduct.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Main North Railway made a significant contribution to the development of the New England Region from the time of its construction 1882-88, and the four timber viaducts were important items of the railway’s infrastructure.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The timber Queen post deck viaduct was a significant structure in place of the expensive iron lattice bridges preferred by John Whitton. The viaducts were technically sound and durable, having been built from renowned ironbark hardwood.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Sunnyside is one of four viaducts and the two on the Cooma Line are the only ones of their type built. They are a unique class of railway 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:

Rail Access Corporation to monitor the condition of all six viaducts and make essential repairs to ensure their structural integrity in case the line is reopened.

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 0105602 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     
Register of the National Estate 1589218 Apr 89   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenLewis, Daniel, Regional Reporter, in Sydney Morning Herald, 27/9/20042004Uproar puts brakes on attempt to demolish historic railway bridges

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: 5045097


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