Pyrmont Bridge | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Pyrmont Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Pyrmont Bridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Location: Lat: -33.8705724573 Long: 151.2008047910
Primary address: , Sydney, NSW 2000
Parish: St Andrew
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
PART LOT501 DP1031387
PART LOT1010 DP1147364
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
 SydneySydneySt AndrewCumberlandPrimary Address
Darling HarbourDarling HarbourSydneySt AndrewCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Place Management NSW Housing and Property Group DPIEState Government 

Statement of significance:

Pyrmont Bridge is an item of State heritage significance for its aesthetic, historical and scientific cultural values. An essential link between the city and the inner western suburbs, Pyrmont Bridge is closely associated with the economic and social development of Sydney at the end of the 19th century.

Pyrmont Bridge is closely associated with Percy Allen, PWD Engineer-in-Chief of bridge design, who was responsible for the introduction of American timber bridge practice to NSW and designed over 500 bridges in NSW. The quality of the carved stonework of the piers and portals added to the aesthetic appeal of the bridge.

At the time of construction the swing span of Pyrmont Bridge was one of the largest in the world. It was one of the first swing bridges to be powered by electricity. The timber approach spans demonstrate a rare example of deck type Allan trusses; there being no other known example. The bridge's Australian design and technological innovation was a source of pride for the people of NSW.

Despite the demolition of the eastern approach to the bridge and the construction of the mono-rail track, Pyrmont Bridge retains its essential heritage values.
Date significance updated: 24 Jul 01
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: Percy Allan, Engineer in Chief, Department of Public Works, NSW
Construction years: 1899-1902
Physical description: Pyrmont Bridge has a number of discrete components: the masonry and concrete abutments and retaining walls and embanked approaches, faced with sandstone; the timber Allan truss side spans; the stone pivot and rest piers; and the central steel swing span.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Pyrmont Bridge is maintained in a sound condition.
Date condition updated:24 Jul 01
Modifications and dates: In later years the bridge deck was resurfaced with asphalt.
Following the closure of Pyrmont Bridge to vehicular traffic the eastern approach was demolished to make way for the Western Distributor. A pedestrian bridge was constructed over the distributor to link Pyrmont Bridge to Market Street.
In 1987 a section of the monorail track was constructed across the Pyrmont Bridge.
Further works at the eastern end of the bridge, in 1996, included the introduction of a pair of escalators and a set of stairs to the Cockle Bay promenade.
Current use: Pedestrian bridge
Former use: Aboriginal land, farm (land ends), Road and rail bridge

History

Historical notes: The Aboriginal name for Darling Harbour is Tumbalong (Sydney City Council, 2019).
The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.

With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney (sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani ).

Pyrmont Bridge:
The old Pyrmont Bridge (1857) crossing Darling Harbour was purchased by the Government in 1884 for (Pounds)49,600, after the tolls were abolished. In 1891 competitive designs were invited for a new bridge on the south side of the old structure, but due to the economic depression no further action was taken until 1894, when, after prolonged inquiry and the consideration of about twenty six schemes, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works decided in favour of a design for a steel bridge with a swing span of 54 feet, affording two 70-foot clear fairways, submitted by the Public Works Department (PWD).

The foundations stone of the new bridge was laid by the Hon. E.W. O'Sullivan, State Minister for Works, on 6 September, 1899; and the bridge opened for traffic on 28 June 1902, by his Excellency Vice-Admiral Sir Harry Holdsworth Rawson, K.C.B., Governor of New South Wales.
Powered by electricity from the Ultimo Powerhouse, the swing bridge could be opened and closed in 45 seconds. Percy Allan, PWD Engineer-in-Chief of bridge design, designed over 550 bridges in NSW.

In 1981 the bridge was permanently closed to traffic and the Government ordered the bridge to be demolished, but later revoked this decision. In 1984 the Darling Harbour Authority was formed with the task of redeveloping Darling Harbour. The Pyrmont Bridge was restored, with the swing span in full working order, and incorporated as a pedestrian bridge in the redevelopment of Darling Harbour. A section of the Monorail was built across the bridge at this time. The Pyrmont Bridge was re-opened to pedestrian traffic in 1988.

Following the end of the monorail's 25 yeasr of operation in July 2013, the Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority began discussing plans to give teh bridge a facelift to coincide with Darling Harbour's $2.5b redevelopment. "It is anticipated that the monorail infrastructure will be removed from the bridge by the end of 2013" said SHFA's spokesman. The SHFA will commission a design brief to look at options for future enhancements including furniture, lighting and pop-up cafes. "Pyrmont Bridge will remain open and accessible to the public...Any future use proposals must not impact on the bridge's surviving historic fabric, or its technological significance, or prevent the continued use as an open swing span bridge" (Gorman, 2013).

The NSW Government will invest in a $23m renewal of heritage-listed Pyrmont Bridge. The project is part of a $73m commitment over the next four years to protect heritage assets along Sydney Harbour foreshore. The projets include $15m to replace ferry wharves in Cockle Bay and $20m to refurbish public spaces at Campbell's Cove at the Rocks and Darling Harbour. Minister for Finance, Services and Property, Dominic Perrottet made the announcement. He said that foreshore renewal was part of Property NSW's broader responsibility for preserving heritage across the state. 'Property NSW is working with the OEH and the Greater Sydney Commission on a proposal to designate The Rocks a heritage precinct'. (Inner West Courier, 10/5/16).

Property NSW CEO Brett Newman announced in 2018 a remediation project, will be undetaken in stages over the next five years, which will include replacing deteriorated timber sections within the bridge pier and truss sections to maintain its structural integrity. The works will cost $23m, part of a wider $73m state government restoration project to protect and enhance heritage assets along the Sydney Harbour foreshore. A spokeswoman said the projects were funded from the divestment of government-owned assets. The first stage of works will restore the timber pier sets below the bridge and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Pyrmont Bridge will remain open during the works (Sydney Central n/ppr., 16/5/18, 16).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. River flats-
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Changing the environment-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences (none)-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Technology-Activities and processes associated with the knowledge or use of mechanical arts and applied sciences Technologies for adapting road transport to maritime systems-
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-
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 Bridging rivers-
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 Bridge - road-
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 living in the city-
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 Developing suburbia-
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 Creating landmark structures and places in urban settings-
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 Infrastructure-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Sydney's colonial settlement; Shipping-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - administering public roads and bridges-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - building and operating public infrastructure-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Percy Allan-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Pyrmont Bridge, an essential link between the city and the inner western suburbs, is closely associated with the economic and social development of Sydney at the end of the 19th century.
Pyrmont Bridge is closely associated with Percy Allan, PWD Engineer-in-Chief of bridge design, with the assistance of JJ Bradfield and Gordon Edgell. Percy Allen was responsible for the introduction of American timber bridge practice to NSW, and designed over 500 bridges in NSW.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Pyrmont Bridge is closely associated with Percy Allan, PWD Engineer-in-Chief of bridge design, with the assistance of JJ Bradfield and Gordon Edgell. Percy Allen was responsible for the introduction of American timber bridge practice to NSW, and designed over 500 bridges in NSW.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Pyrmont Bridge demonstrates a high level of aesthetic value in the stonework and carved stone detailing of the bridge approaches, pivot pier and rest piers, as well as displaying the high aesthetic values of the timber and steel bridge structures . The watchhouse also demonstrates fine architectural detailing.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
When completed the Pyrmont Bridge was regarded as a landmark in the development of Australian engineering skills and technological innovation, being favourably compared with the technical achievements of the recently completed Tower Bridge in London. Its Australian design, technological innovation and construction made it a source of pride for the people of NSW.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
When completed the Pyrmont Bridge was regarded as a landmark in the development of Australian engineering skills and technological innovation, being favourably compared with the technical achievements of the recently completed Tower Bridge in London. The bridge's innovative design included; the size of the swing span and speed of operation; development of the timber bridge truss; caisson construction; design of the swing span bearings; and use of electric power. The design of the approach spans represent the highest level of development of the timber truss.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
The timber approach spans demonstrate a rare example of deck type Allan trusses; there being no other known example. (Engineering Heritage Committee, IEA, 1991)
Integrity/Intactness: Pyrmont Bridge is no longer used as a public road, the eastern approach having been removed, however, the bridge still functions as a pedestrian link between the central city and Pyrmont. The bridge swing span, the centrepiece of the design, is opened on a regular basis. Thus, the bridge retains its integrity as a swing 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:

General: Retain the heritage items and their values in accordance with Burra Charter Principles. Applications for modification or additions to the structure must be accompanied by a statement of heritage impact and/or a conservation management plan and must take into account the curtilage of the item.

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State 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, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0161828 Jun 02 1064987
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerSydney Harbour Foreshores Authority s.170 register 20 Jan 17   
Heritage studyCity of Sydney Heritage Study    
Register of the National EstatePyrmont Bridge183521 Oct 90   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
SCA Register 1979-19981998 Sydney Cove Authority (SCA)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Tourism 2007Pyrmont Bridge View detail
TourismAttraction Homepage2007Pyrmont Bridge View detail
WrittenCouncil of the City of Sydney Ultimo Pyrmont Haymarket Study
WrittenEngineering Heritage Committee, Sydney Division, I.E. Australia1991The Pyrmont Bridge, Darling Harbour
WrittenGorman, James2013'Facelift for a Favourite landmark'
WrittenSydney Central newspaper (unattributed)2018'Link to past: historic bridge is set for a long-awaited clean and scale'
WrittenSydney City Council2019Cartographica - Sydney on the Map

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 NSW
Database number: 5053337
File number: H04/00368


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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