Lansdowne Bridge | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

Culture and heritage


Lansdowne Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Lansdowne Bridge
Other name/s: Lennox Bridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -33.8902156386 Long: 150.9672223120
Primary address: Hume Highway, Lansvale, NSW 2166
Local govt. area: Fairfield
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Gandangara
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Hume HighwayLansvaleFairfield  Primary Address
Hume HighwayLansvaleMultiple LGAs  Alternate Address
Hume HighwayLansvaleBankstown  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Lansdowne Bridge is considered to be one of the finest examples of Colonial Architecture in Australia as well as David Lennox's masterpiece of design (Sheedy 1973). Lansdowne Bridge was built by convicts during 1834 to 1836. The sandstone arch has the largest span of any surviving masonry bridge in Australia. The size, appearance and durability make this bridge an outstanding example of colonial engineering (Environmental Management Committee Fairfield Council 1990).
Date significance updated: 08 Nov 00
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: David Lennox
Construction years: 1834-1836
Physical description: A large sandstone arched bridge spanning the Prospect Creek. The single arch has supporting buttresses. The clear span is 110 feet while the clearance above mean water level is 76 feet at the centre. It has curved abutments and approaches, while the parapets and mouldings are simple and devoid of unnecessary ornamentation. Some of the radiating voussoirs are quite large in size measuring up to eight feet in length. (Sheedy 1973)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical condition is excellent. Archaelogical potential is high.
Date condition updated:08 Nov 00
Modifications and dates: 1834 - construction began
1835 - construction completed
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge


Historical notes: Lansdowne bridge was designed and supervised by David Lennox. Born in Ayr, Scotland in 1788 David Lennox was trained as a stonemason. He worked on Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge at Anglesey in Wales and on Gloucester Bridge where he learnt the sound construction principles he used on his Colonial projects. He emigrated to Australia in 1832.

He immediately found employment as a mason with the government. While working at the Legislative Council Chambers in Macquarie Street, Sydney, Lennox met the Surveyor-General Sir Thomas Mitchell.

The Surveyor-General lost little time in submitting Lennox's credentials to the Governor, describing him as 'a very well qualified person recently arrived in the Colony.' Acting on Mitchell's recommendation, Governor Bourke provisionally appointed Lennox as a Sub-Inspector of Bridges at a salary of 120 pounds per annum. In June 1833 the position was confirmed by London as Superintendent of Bridges.

In 1832 a sum of 1083 pound was voted for the construction of a bridge at the point where the main Southern Road crossed Propsect Creek. Mitchell recommended Lennox as overseer because of his success on other projects. In May 1833 Lennox moved into the Greyhound Inn near the site of the bridge.

Lennox asked for the retention of convicts who had worked particularly well on the Lapstone bridge and also asked the Governor to permit removal of the prisoner's irons for the remainder of their sentences. Governor Bourke agreed in the case of four of the convicts with a promise to review the request in six months for two of the others.

After a lengthy search, stone of excellent quality was found on the right bank about eleven kilometres downstream from the site of the bridge. As the quarry site was near the river bank it was decided to punt the stone to the construction site by making the best use of the tides.

In July 1833 Lennox told Mitchell of a mutiny that had occurred at the quarry while he had been away on an inspection tour. Some of the convicts had rebelled and had consumed the contents of a nearby liquor still. Returning to the camp drunk they threatened to kill the supervisor and destroy the camp and quarrying equipment. The police from Liverpool were called and arrested the offenders. Retribution at Liverpool Court was swift and savage; those who were spared the chain gang received up to fifty lashes of the 'cat'.

On 1 January 1834, Governor Bourke visited the site of the bridge to lay the foundation stone. Within hours of the laying of the inscription plate it was stolen. Lennox made arrangements to obtain a duplicate plate but the original was found and restored to the bridge.

On 7 June 1834 Lennox applied for more labourers, the bridge being at a stage where the centring could commence. This was the construction of a rigid timber frame to hold each stone in place until the arch became self-supporting. It was a critical process and any inaccuracies would cause instability or collapse the arch.

Upon recieving a report that the bridge was nearing completion, Governor Bourke selected Tuesday, 26 January 1836 for the official opening date, as this coincided with the 48th anniversary of the Colony's foundation. The Lansdowne Bridge was not ready for several months as the Toll House was not complete. Once tolls started to be collected however, the bridge soon recovered its cost and in 1844 annual receipts were 685 pounds. (George 1982)

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-
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)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Aaron Muron Bolot, architect-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Lansdowne Bridge is considered to be one of the finest examples of Colonial Architecture in Australia as well as David Lennox's masterpiece of design. (Sheedy 1973) Lansdowne Bridge was built by convicts during 1834 to 1836. (Environmental Management Committee Fairfield Council 1990)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The sandstone arch has the largest span of any surviving masonry bridge in Australia. The size, appearance and durability make this bridge an outstanding example of colonial engineering. (Environmental Management Committee Fairfield Council 1990)
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 0147220 Jun 00 --
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerRoads & Traffic s.170    
Local Environmental Plan 199406 Oct 95 1227147
Cumberland County Council list of Historic Buildings 1961-67     
National Trust of Australia register   11 Feb 74   
Register of the National Estate  21 Mar 78   

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Lansdowne Bridge View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Lansdowne Bridge View detail
WrittenD Sheedy1973National Trust Classification Card - Lansdowne Bridge
WrittenEnvironmental Management Committee - Fairfield Council1990Heritage Conservation in Fairfield City - Meeting notes
WrittenVance George1982Fairfield: a History of the District

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: 5051374
File number: S91/01711

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