Dunmore Bridge over the Paterson River | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Dunmore Bridge over the Paterson River

Item details

Name of item: Dunmore Bridge over the Paterson River
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -32.6803710679 Long: 151.6054732610
Primary address: Paterson Road, Woodville, NSW 2321
Local govt. area: Port Stephens
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Mindaribba
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Paterson RoadWoodvillePort Stephens  Primary Address
Main Road 301WoodvillePort Stephens  Alternate Address
Paterson RoadWoodvilleMaitland  Alternate Address
Main Road 301WoodvilleMaitland  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Completed in 1899, the Dunmore bridge is a representative example of an Allan truss road bridge, and is one of three surviving overhead braced timber truss road bridges in NSW. The bridge also has a lift span to allow river traffic under it, which is a rare feature that also contains much technical significance and information about engineering technology of the late 19th century. Most of its engineering details are intact, and the bridge is in good condition. As a timber truss road bridge, it has many associational links with important historical events, trends, and people, including the expansion of the road network and economic activity throughout NSW, and Percy Allan, the designer of this type of truss. Allan trusses were third in the five-stage design evolution of NSW timber truss bridges, and were a major improvement over the McDonald trusses which preceded them. Allan trusses were 20% cheaper to build than Mc Donald trusses, could carry 50% more load, and were easier to maintain. The people who live in the area around the bridge (Woodville and the Hunter region) value the bridge highly, and as such it has social significance. Dunmore Bridge is located in the Hunter region, which has 15 historic bridges each constructed before 1905, and it gains heritage significance from its proximity to the high concentration of other historic bridges in the area. In 1998 there were 38 surviving Allan trusses in NSW of the 105 built, and 82 timber truss road bridges survive from the over 400 built. The Dunmore bridge is a rare and representative example of Allan timber truss road bridges, and is assessed as being Nationally significant, primarily on the basis of its technical and historical significance.
Date significance updated: 13 Sep 05
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: Percy Allan
Builder/Maker: S McGill, Morpeth
Construction years: 1899-1899
Physical description: Dunmore Bridge is an overhead braced Allan type timber truss road bridge. It has three timber truss spans, each of 34.2m (113ft), 34.4m (113ft), and 33.8m (111ft). It has an internal steel truss lift span of 17.8m (58ft). There is a single approach span at each end giving the bridge an overall length of 130.5m (428ft). The bridge has a height restriction of 4.6m because of the overhead bracing between the tops of the trusses.

The main spans of the superstructure are supported by twin cast iron cylinder piers. The bridge provides a single lane carriage way with a minimum width of 4.3m and a footpath. An Armco guardrail protects vehicular traffic, and a timber post and rail fence is provided on the footpath. The lifting mechanism is no longer in service following the removal of the lifting ropes and counter weights.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The bridge is in good condition, and has been well maintained by the RTA.
Date condition updated:13 Sep 05
Modifications and dates: Lifting mechanism for lift span has been removed.
Timber truss spans replaced 2013 with same design except that steel used for vertical tension members instead of wrought iron and blackbutt timber used instead of grey ironbark.
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge


Historical notes: Timber truss road bridges have played a significant role in the expansion and improvement of the NSW road network. Prior to the bridges being built, river crossings were often dangerous in times of rain, which caused bulk freight movement to be prohibitively expensive for most agricultural and mining produce. Only the high priced wool clip of the time was able to carry the costs and inconvenience imposed by the generally inadequate river crossings that often existed prior to the trusses construction.
Timber truss bridges were preferred by the Public Works Department from the mid 19th to the early 20th century because they were relatively cheap to construct, and used mostly local materials. The financially troubled governments of the day applied pressure to the Public Works Department to produce as much road and bridge work for as little cost as possible, using local materials. This condition effectively prohibited the use of iron and steel, as these, prior to the construction of the steel works at Newcastle in the early 20th century, had to be imported from England.

Allan trusses were the first truly scientifically engineered timber truss bridges, and incorporate American design ideas for the first time. This is a reflection of the changing mindset of the NSW people, who were slowly accepting that American ideas could be as good as or better than European ones. The high quality and low cost of the Allan truss design entrenched the dominance of timber truss bridges for NSW roads for the next 30 years.

Percy Allan, the designer of Allan truss and other bridges, was a senior engineer of the Public Works Department, and a prominent figure in late 19th century NSW.

Timber truss bridges, and timber bridges generally were so common that NSW was known to travellers as the "timber bridge state".

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]
Through the bridge's association with the expansion of the NSW road network, its ability to demonstrate historically important concepts such as the gradual acceptance of NSW people of American design ideas, and its association with Percy Allan, it has historical significance.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The bridge exhibits the technical excellence of its design, as all of the structural detail is clearly visible. In the context of its landscape it is visually attractive. As such, the bridge has moderate aesthetic significance.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Timber truss bridges are prominent to road travellers, and NSW has in the past been referred to as the "timber truss bridge state". Through this, the complete set of bridges gain some social significance, as they could be said to be held in reasonable esteem by many travellers in NSW. The Dunmore bridge is valued by the people of the Hunter region.
SHR Criteria f)
Highly rare - only combination of overhead Allan truss and lift span
SHR Criteria g)
Highly representative of overhead braced Allan trusses: in 1998 there were 38 surviving Allan trusses in NSW of the 105 built, and 82 timber truss road bridges survive from the over 400 built.
Integrity/Intactness: Intact
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 0146720 Jun 00 --
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerRoads & Traffic s.170    
Register of the National Estate  18 Apr 89 1260010

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Dunmore Bridge over the Paterson River View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Dunmore Bridge over the Paterson River View detail

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: 5051369
File number: H00/00322

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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