Gladesville Bridge | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Heritage

Gladesville Bridge

Item details

Name of item: Gladesville Bridge
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Land
Category: Road Bridge
Primary address: Victoria Road, Drummoyne, NSW 2047
Parish: Concord
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Canada Bay
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan

Boundary:

Refer to Heritage Council Plan 2625. The curtilage of Gladesville Bridge is defined (by RMS) as the northern and southern abutments and the arch. To the south (Drummoyne), the boundary is in line with Drummoyne Avenue that runs beneath the bridge. To the north (Henleys Point), the boundary is the Victoria Road off-ramp that runs beneath the bridge (adjacent to Huntleys Point Road). The curtilage encompasses the bridge structure only and does not extend to any landscape, river or roadways that exist beneath the structure.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Victoria RoadDrummoyneCanada BayConcordCumberlandPrimary Address
Victoria RoadHuntleys PointHunters HillHunters HillCumberlandAlternate Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Roads and Maritime ServicesState Government 

Statement of significance:

Gladesville Bridge has state heritage significance as the longest concrete arch span bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964 (1000 feet). One of only two of its type in NSW, Gladesville Bridge is considered to be a leading example of technical and engineering achievement on the international stage.

An innovative design that set new global standards for design and construction, Gladesville Bridge was one of the first bridges in the world (if not, the first) to utilise computer programming in its construction.

With particular social significance and an important association with a number of internationally acclaimed engineers and engineering firms (including G. Maunsell & Partners and Eugene Freyssinet), Gladesville Bridge is one of the landmark engineering achievements of the world.
Date significance updated: 19 Dec 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.

Description

Designer/Maker: Anthony Gee, G. Maunsell & Partners, Eugene Freyssinet
Builder/Maker: Reed & Mallik Ltd (Engineers, England) and Stuart Bros (Builders, Sydney)
Construction years: 1959-1964
Physical description: The Gladesville Bridge connects the suburbs of Gladesville (located on the northern bank of the Parramatta River) and Drummoyne (located on its southern and eastern sides).

Gladesville Bridge is a four-box pre-stressed concrete arch with a span of 1000 feet (305m). Its total length (including approaches) is 579.4m. The roadway across the bridge is includes seven roadway lanes with pathway on either side.

The arch of the bridge is supported by concrete thrust blocks embedded into sandstone foundations on either side of Parramatta River. The bridge was constructed as four arches, each made from precast concrete box sections. Each rib of blocks was erected on a falsework system supported on piles. When the four arches were in place, they were stressed together (using the Freyssinet stressing system) by transverse cables passing through diaphragms.

On completion of the arch, the piers (stressed vertically using the Lee McCall system) were constructed on both the arch and approaches. These supported the deck which is a waffle construction of eight longitudinal precast prestressed 'T' beams with four intermediate cast-in-place transverse beams per span, and with cast in place fillers between the 'T' beams. At its northern end, the deck flares out from its six lanes to accommodate the diverging traffic lanes feeding both Victoria Road and Burns Bay Road.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Still in active operation and serving heavy inner-city road traffic on a daily basis, the Gladesville Bridge appears to be in good physical condition due to regular maintenance works.
Modifications and dates: In the 1970s, the roadway of Gladesville Bridge was widened from six to seven-lanes (without structural modification) to accommodate an increased traffic flow over the bridge. This widening was achieved by taking in some of the generous width of the pedestrian walkways on either side of the roadway.

Fencing along the north eastern side of the Gladesville Bridge appears to have been a later addition.
Current use: Road bridge
Former use: Road bridge

History

Historical notes: Europeans first settled in the Gladesville/Drummoyne area of Sydney soon after landfall at Sydney Cove. In the 1790s, Crown grants of 30 acre lots were made available in the vicinity of Gladesville to encourage agricultural pursuits in the area.

The future suburb of Gladesville remained isolated and rural until the 1850s when the earlier land grants were subdivided into large urban building blocks for the development of 'gentlemen's residences' for the wealthier colonists of NSW.

To provide better access to Sydney, a wharf was soon erected on the Parramatta River at Gladesville and, in 1881, a two-lane steel lattice truss girder bridge with swing span was built across the river between Drummoyne and Huntleys Point (remnants of the sandstone abutments of the original bridge still exist on the river banks to the south-west of the present bridge). This bridge carried a tramline and road traffic but did not accommodate pedestrians.

By the 1950s, due to a rapid growth in private car ownership and road freight transport in Sydney during the interwar and post war period, the traffic crossing Gladesville Bridge was becoming increasingly congested. With consistent interruptions and delays from the tramline and from shipping transportation along the Parramatta River, it was soon realised that a new bridge was required to alleviate the problem.

In the late 1950s, the Department of Main Roads (DMR) intended the replacement Gladesville Bridge to be a conventional steel truss of its own design. However, an alternative approach, prepared by English civil engineering firm G. Maunsell & Partners, was soon submitted by another English firm, Reed & Mallik Ltd which had teamed up with Sydney-based builders Stuart Brothers.

Guy Maunsell, having recently split from his professional business partners and seeking new international engineering opportunities, recognised that a concrete arch bridge would be a much better suited and economical solution for the new Gladesville Bridge than the steel truss the DMR had designed. However, winning the Gladesville Bridge contract was perhaps considered a long shot by the firm's partners and scarce resources were invested into the project from the outset. The firm's first graduate recruit, 22-year old Anthony Gee, was given the task of developing Maunsell's preliminary drawings into a viable design from which Reed & Mallik Ltd and Stuart Brothers, could formulate a price. Due in part to the unprecedented nature of the design, the proposal was independently reviewed by internationally revered engineer, and pioneer of pre-stressed concrete methods, Eugene Freyssinet. Among the last works of Freyssinet's life, the proposed 910-foot, six-lane, high level concrete arch bridge was soon extended to 1000ft, the design accepted and the contract to build was issued.

DMR intended the new $6.3 million Gladesville Bridge to be part of the North-Western Expressway, a larger program of road works that would act as a main artery to link Sydney with the northern suburbs, and through to Newcastle. Although the strategic project was finally abandoned in the 1970s, the new Gladesville Bridge was under construction by 1959.

The construction of the new Gladesville Bridge was a noteworthy engineering achievement for its time and, being both daring and untried, its innovative design and construction set several new standards on the international stage.

Gladesville Bridge was the first 1000 foot span concrete bridge in the world and had a substantial number of engineering and technical elements that made it a world-leading bridge design and construction achievement. It was also the first bridge, if not one of the first bridges, to utilise computer programming in its construction. As there was no suitable proprietary engineering software available at that time, the bridge designer (Anthony Gee of G. Maunsell & Partners) also wrote a suite of five computer programs for analysis and detailed design to guide its construction.

Formally opened to traffic on 2 October 1964 by Her Royal Highness Princess Marina of Kent, Gladesville Bridge was considered to be a world standard in design and construction. Having eclipsed Sweden's Sando Bridge (built in 1943 at 866 feet) to become the longest concrete arch span bridge in the world, the new Gladesville Bridge was an unprecedented success that attracted world-wide attention and interest. Measuring 1000 feet (305 metres) in length, 200 feet (610 metres) above the water level, and 72 feet (22 metres) wide [with six-foot wide pathways on either side], the scale of the new Gladesville Bridge established it as one of the landmark engineering achievements of the world.

In the 1970s, the roadway of Gladesville Bridge was widened from six to seven-lanes (without structural modification) to accommodate an increased traffic flow over the bridge. This widening was achieved by narrowing the generous width of the pedestrian walkways on either side of the roadway. Despite this widening, achieved without structural modification to the bridge, Gladesville Bridge has remained relatively unchanged since its completion in 1964.

Gladesville Bridge named an Engineering Heritage International Marker upon its 50th anniversary on 1 October 2014.

Gladesville Bridge named an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark on 15 December 2015.

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 Building and maintaining public roads-
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 Road Bridge-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Gladesville Bridge has state heritage significance as the longest concrete arch span bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964 (at 1000 feet, this record was held for 15 years until 1980).

Considered to be a leading example of technical and engineering achievement, the Gladesville Bridge was an innovative design that set new standards for design and construction on the international stage.

One of the landmark engineering achievements of the world, Gladesville Bridge was one of the first bridges in the world (if not, the first) to utilise computer programming in its construction.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Gladesville Bridge has state heritage significance for its association with a number of internationally acclaimed engineers and engineering firms.

Designed by English firm G. Maunsell & Partners, the vision of the new Gladesville Bridge being a concrete arch bridge, rather than a more standard steel truss bridge, is attributed to Guy Maunsell. Maunsell was a revered British engineer and early developer of prestressed concrete. In the mid-20th century, at the time of the construction of Gladesville Bridge, G. Maunsell & Partners were applying their creative methods to building iconic bridges across the world.

Gladesville Bridge is also associated with the celebrated French engineer, Eugene Freyssinet who reviewed the innovative and unprecedented design. A pioneer in using pre-stressed concrete in bridge construction, Freyssinet's contribution to the design of Gladesville Bridge was among the last works of his life.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Gladesville Bridge has state heritage significance for its aesthetic and technical significance.

Upon its construction in 1964, Gladesville Bridge was the longest concrete arch span bridge in the world and its innovative design set new standards for design and construction on the international stage. An internationally-leading example of technical and engineering achievement, Gladesville Bridge was considered to be one of the landmark engineering achievements of the world.

Built in an era when aesthetic qualities were given high priority, particularly on high profile infrastructure projects, Gladesville Bridge is an impressive and visually distinctive structure that serves as an inner-city landmark from the road and river.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Gladesville Bridge has state heritage significance for its social value to the community of NSW.

The replacement of the 1881 Gladesville Bridge, and the development of the unrealised North-Western Expressway, was a major Department of Main Roads project that was instigated by, and responded directly to, the demands of the Sydney community.

The crossing of Parramatta River at this point was considered to be a critical connection between the city and the northern suburbs. A critical link in the planned expressway to Newcastle, the new Gladesville Bridge was to alleviate traffic congestion and provide better access for the new residential suburbs and communities that were developing in the post-war period.

Today, Gladesville Bridge is a landmark structure that continues to be a major arterial roadway servicing the Sydney community.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Gladesville Bridge has state heritage significance for its technical significance and, as such, may have potential to reveal information about its world-class standards of design and construction that led to the structure being considered a leading example of technical and engineering achievement.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Gladesville Bridge has state heritage significance as a rare example of a concrete arch span bridge in NSW.

Gladesville Bridge is one of only two of its type in the state-the other is the nearby Tarban Creek Bridge which is a 300 foot bridge, built in 1965 as part of the same unrealised North-Western Expressway project that was also responsible for the construction of Gladesville Bridge. Although both were built by the same team, both Gladesville Bridge and Tarban Creek Bridge are distinctly different in their structural specifications and construction methods.

The longest concrete arch span bridge in the world upon its construction (a record held for 15 years), Gladesville Bridge is now the seventh longest bridge of its type (in excess of 1000 feet) in the world. Eclipsed by the1280 foot Krk Bridge in Croatia (built in 1980), Gladesville Bridge continues to be the longest concrete arch span bridge in Australia.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Gladesville Bridge is a representative example of the technological advancement of bridge design and construction in NSW. From the peak of the arch, one can witness the evolution of bridge engineering in Sydney - from the Sydney Harbour Bridge (1932), to the Gladesville Bridge (1964) to the ANZAC Bridge (1995).

Replacing an earlier 1881 swing bridge and ferry service, Gladesville Bridge is also a representative example of a critical transport crossing across the Parramatta River.
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
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
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977

ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)
TO GRANT SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FROM APPROVAL

Gladesville Bridge
Victoria Road, Drummoyne, Huntleys Point

SHR No. 1935

I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule C by the owner of the bridge structure described in Schedule B on the item described in Schedule A.

The Hon Rob Stokes, MP
Minister for Heritage

Sydney, 24 Day of September 2014

SCHEDULE A

The item known as the Gladesville Bridge, situated on the land described in Schedule B.

SCHEDULE B

The bridge structure (including arch and northern and southern abutments) as shown on the plan catalogued HC 2625 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.

SCHEDULE C

1.Maintenance and minor repairs necessary to preserve and maintain the functioning of the structure as a transport corridor, including pavement resurfacing; maintenance and repair of roadside kerbing; maintenance and replacement of deck joints; concrete coring and testing; traffic management; relocation and maintenance of signage; and replacement of signage (up to a 50% increase in size) in the original sign area.

2.Works and activities associated with the maintenance and repair of the pedestrian walkway, including maintenance and repair of safety fencing; maintenance and repair of pedestrian signage and plaques; and maintenance and repair of the pedestrian footpath.

3.Works and activities associated with the maintenance and repair of services and utilities including communications and electricity.

4.Temporary works, not exceeding 12 months, including containment areas, scaffolding and enclosures necessary for the carrying out of maintenance, enhancement or upgrading works.

5.Minor works that do not alter the structure's overall form or shape or significantly change the appearance of bridge elements.

6.Minor works necessary to preserve and maintain bridge lighting including the upgrade of existing lighting fixtures.

7.Use of anti-graffiti treatments including sacrificial coatings, where it is known that this activity would not harm the heritage values of the structure.

8.Installation of signage, excluding commercial signs; modular sign structures; cantilever sign structures; new signage on gantries; and signage over 2m2 in size.

9.Temporary and reversible works, not exceeding 6 weeks, for the operation of special events including the use of temporary event lighting.

10.Minor works necessary to preserve and enhance the security of the structure, including security fencing, video surveillance and detection systems.

11.Works that, in the opinion of the Heritage Council or its Delegate, are required for the security of the bridge and bridge users, and that need to remain confidential.

Note: Maintenance means 'the continuous protective care of the fabric and setting of a place'.
Oct 1 2014

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0193501 Oct 14 803306

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1962'Concrete arches to a world record' Engineering News-Record
WrittenAnthony F. Gee Gladesville Bridge at 50
WrittenNSW Transport: Roads and Maritime Services2014Gladesville Bridge: Notes in support of Engineers Australia Engineering Landmark nomination
ElectronicRoads & Traffic Authority2005Concrete Slab and Arch Bridges: Heritage Study of Pre-1948 Concrete Slab and Arch Road Bridges View detail
OtherRoads & Traffic Authority2001Oral History: Construction of the Gladesville Bridge
WrittenSydney Engineering Heritage Committee20114Nomination of Gladesville Bridge NSW as an Engineering Heritage Internation Marker

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: 5062219
File number: EF14/12057


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