April 27, 2020

Sydney Harbour Bridges: The Gasworks Bridge, Parramatta

Gasworks Bridge Parramatta (Roderick Eime)

While technically this bridge is not on the 'harbour' exactly, it still crosses the primary waterway that feeds into Port Jackson, namely the Parramatta River. Ferries en route to Parramatta from Circular Quay cross under it daily.

A few hundred metres away is Australia's oldest surviving building, the 1793 Elizabeth Farm of famous pioneer, John Macarthur, so the historic Gasworks Bridge is in good company.

Parramatta Gasworks showing bridge to right of frame. The gasworks opened in 1873.

Today, the iron lattice bridge still conveys hundreds of vehicles of a type it could never have imagined when it was erected in 1885 using a design by the prominent civil engineer, John A McDonald, a Public Works colleague of Percy Allen who designed both the 1903 Glebe Island Bridge and the Pyrmont Bridge.

Drone shot facing east from the southern bank. April 2020 (Roderick Eime)

The iron lattice design was popular throughout the British Empire in the late Victorian era and examples can be seen around Australia and other colonies. It was initially a little more expensive to construct but used less iron than comparable and heavier cellular girder bridges and have stood the test of time. More than 30 such bridges were built in NSW between 1870 and 1893, another example being the Meadowbank Railway Bridge.

The structure is registered with the NSW State Heritage Register for historic, aesthetic and social significance.

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