Lennox Bridge | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Lennox Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Lennox Bridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -33.7545928564 Long: 150.6322354020
Primary address: Mitchells Pass, Glenbrook, NSW 2773
Parish: Strathdon
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT299 DP751662
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Mitchells PassGlenbrookBlue Mountains StrathdonCookPrimary Address
Mitchells PassLapstoneBlue Mountains StrathdonCookAlternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Blue Mountains City CouncilLocal Government23 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

Lennox Bridge is the oldest stone bridge on the Australian mainland. It commands significance respect as the design of a newly arrived Scottish stone-mason, David Lennox, handpicked by the percipient Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell and as the work of some twenty diligent, efficient, tightly supervised and technically able convicts. It was a necessary part of the road communications between Sydney and the West for over a century and proved remarkably durable. Its historical significance is augmented by its aesthetic and technical values. The original bridge, on a horseshoe curve, was daring, experimental and remarkably attractive; despite significant restoration work in 1976 the structure has retained a high degree of its original fabric and is in good condition. The work did not detracted from the aesthetic and technical values inherit in the design and fabric of the bridge. It has State Significance as the oldest bridge permitting vehicle transport on a route essential to the state's development.
Date significance updated: 28 Nov 13
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.


Designer/Maker: David Lennox
Builder/Maker: James Randall and other convicts
Construction years: 1832-1833
Physical description: Lennox Bridge spans the deep gully of Lapstone Creek at the head of the steepest part of Mitchell's Pass. The foundations are on bedrock, with the water running through a channel cut by Lennox's convicts in the bed of the creek. The bridge is quite small, with a span of only 20 feet (6 metres). The single arch is built of ashlared stone blocks mortared together. The arch on the south side has a keystone bearing the inscription 'DAVID LENNOX', on the north side, 'AD 1833', the packing of the bridge to either hand of the main ashlared section is of coursed rubble revetments, making the total length of the bridge carriageway of almost 47 feet (15 metres). The stone parapets are laid above a projecting plinth which begins just above the keystones. The area between the curve of the arch and the horizontal carriageway was packed with small rubble stone. There was originally a damp-proof lime-mortar course above the vaulting, but this, together with most of the packing, was removed when the bridge was stripped back to the arch in 1976. During these repairs new concrete supports were inserted to bear the weight of a new carriageway utilising steel girders to take the traffic then still using Mitchell's Pass. These changes arc not visible, but the insertion of new blocks of stone and repairs to existing blocks on the main arch are legible. The original stone-cut channel for the creek still exists but is obscured by a concrete channel poured within Lennox's work during the 1976 repairs. Since Mitchell's Pass ceased to take the heavy traffic over the Mountains, via the former Knapsack Railway Viaduct, the road is now one-way only downhill from Lennox Bridge and the traffic is largely for tourist purposes. There is a small amount of car-parking space beside the bridge and a concrete stairwell and path down to the creek on the west side. The visitor can safely walk under the bridge obtain the most attractive views.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is good.
Date condition updated:28 Nov 13
Modifications and dates: The road was closed, the carriageway removed and the bridge stripped down to its bare stone arch in 1976. The Department of Main Roads decided that the stress had to be removed from the original arch and reconstructed the carriageway so that it was supported on two new concrete walls and borne on horizontal steel girders. With other repairs to the stonework and to the channel for the creek under the bridge, the road was reopened in 1976 with the new work largely concealed from view. With much reduced traffic flow and the road to the plains from the bridge made on-way only (downhill) Lennox Bridge continues to serve as the oldest stone bridge on the Australian Mainland. (Kullas, LGEA of NSW Journal, July 1983, 85- 86).
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge


Historical notes: Mr David Lennox, who left his stone wall at my request, and with his sleeves still tucked up, came with me to my office, and undertook to plan the stone bridges required, make the centring arches and to carry on such works by directing and instructing the common labourers then at the disposal of the Government.’ (Major Mitchell, Letter to Perry, March 22, 1833)

And on 1 October 1832, only seven weeks after his arrival in the colony, Lennox was appointed (subject to London's confirmation) Sub-Inspector of Bridges in New South Wales. His first task was to plan and organise the spanning of Lapstone Creek on Mitchell's Pass. By early November 1832, he and his selected twenty convicts; with suitable experience had opened a quarry near the creek, had cut a number of stone blocks and were ready to start building operations. The design called for a horseshoe shape to give optimum strength.

By March 1833, the experimental bridge was so far advanced that Mitchell had to decide what should be carved on the keystones. He agreed that on the upstream side (the south side), the inscription should commemorate the man he had chosen so percipiently, so the masons carved 'DAVID LENNOX', while on the north side they carved 'AD 1833'. There has been weathering on the south side but the AD1833 stone is still in very good condition. (Selkirk, Journal of Royal Australian Historical Society, V6, 1920, P 202-207).

A small crack appeared beside the arch but Lennox advised against taking any remedial action. The bridge remained very robust and carried increasingly heavy traffic as the Great Road to the West became busier. The success of the railway after 1867 diverted much transport business away from the road until the twentieth century and advent of the motor-car. Mitchell's Pass began to bear more traffic than was comfortable for Lenox Bridge, although the conversion of Knapsack Viaduct from a trail line to a road bridge in 1926 opened a new road route up the Monocline and at last diverted much of the traffic from Mitchells Pass.

Mitchell's road continued to be used, however, and by 1975 it was plain that substantial works were necessary to secure the safety of Lennox Bridge. Restoration works took place in 1976.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
2. Peopling-Peopling the continent Convict-Activities relating to incarceration, transport, reform, accommodation and working during the convict period in NSW (1788-1850) - does not include activities associated with the conviction of persons in NSW that are unrelated to the imperial 'convict system': use the theme of Law & Order for such activities Working for the Crown-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Utilities-Activities associated with the provision of services, especially on a communal basis Roadways to Inland Settlements-
5. Working-Working Labour-Activities associated with work practises and organised and unorganised labour Working on public infrastructure projects-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Lennox Bridge is the oldest stone bridge on the Australian mainland. It commands respect as the design of a newly arrived Scottish stone-mason handpicked by the percipient Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell and as the work of some twenty diligent, efficient, tightly supervised and technically able convicts. It was necessary part of the road communications between Sydney and the West for over a century and proved remarkably durable. It has State Significance as the oldest bridge permitting vehicle transport on a route essential to the state's development.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
David Lennox was born at Ayr, in Scotland in 1788. At forty-five years of age Lennox began service under Major Mitchell. Prior to arriving in the Colony he had spent seventeen years on public works executed at the expense of the British Government. During this time he constructed a number of wooden bridges associated with the Gloucester-Berkeley Canal and a stone bridge near Gloucester. In 1832, two years after the death of his wife, Lennox arrived on the Colony on the Florentia. Not long after his arrival, he was discovered by Major Mitchell. On October 1, 1832, following the review of his credentials, Lennox was appointed to the Roads Department as the Sub-Inspector of Bridges. Within six weeks of his appointment Lennox and his men had cut most of the stone and procured lime for mortar. By July 1833, the bridge was' complete, The success of Lennox’s design is demonstrated through its on-going stability and continued use, Major restoration 3l1d safety improvement work was not required until the 1950s.
Lennox Bridge is also associated with at least twenty convicts, an overseer, a constable and an armed sentry that worked on the site between October 1832 and July 1833, the construction gang worked from 7am to 4pm, when they returned to their stockade at Emu Plains. The work involved stone cutting and setting, carpentry and masonry required to construct the bridge. Following completion of the bridge Lennox requested to retain the: services of eight convicts: William Brady, John Carsons, Robert Hyams, John Johnson, Patrick Malowney (Maloney), Thomas Nelson, James Randall & Daniel Williams. The sentences of six of the eight convicts were remitted. The remaining two were reduced after a further six months of work (Low, 1983, p12).
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The original bridge, on a horse-shoe curve, was daring, experimental and remarkably attractive, The stonework has been restored some infelicities have been allowed on the revetment and the changes made in 1976 by introducing concrete to the stone-cut water channel beneath the bridge are unpleasing but David Lennox's concept for the bridge of a very pretty small gorge remains aesthetically pleasing.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The bridge was carried on a single semi-circular stone arch of ten feet radius. The roadway was thirty feet wide at the crown of the arch and the same height above the bed or the gully. After bearing over one hundred and seventy years of traffic and one major restoration still stands stable. The bridge is a very fine example of the work of David Lennox and represents the first scientifically constructed stone arched bridge of its magnitude In Australia.
SHR Criteria f)
Lennox Bridge is exceptionally rare. No other bridges of similar age or design have survived on the Australian mainland.
SHR Criteria g)
Lennox Bridge is the oldest scientifically constructed stone arch bridge on the Australian mainland. Having gained his bridge construction experience before arriving in the colony it is highly representative of the techniques used to construct stone bridges at the time in England.
Integrity/Intactness: The bridge retains a high degree of original fabric. 1976 restorations do not detract from the significance of the built heritage item.
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
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.

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


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0002402 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0002421 Dec 79 1846400
Local Environmental Plan  27 Dec 91   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Lennox Bridge View detail

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5045255
File number: S90/07399 & HC 30149

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