||In 1861 a grant of 10,000 pounds was given for the construction of a road bridge across the Murrumbidgee flood plain at Gundagai, but the appropriation of the money was held up pending a survey. Tenders were called for the construction of an iron bridge at Gundagai in the Government Gazette No. 121 of 26 June 1863. The tender for construction for the section of bridge which spans the river was awarded to Francis Bell for the total cost of 19,210 pounds.
The Fitzroy Iron Works of Mittagong NSW [first iron foundry in Australia] were awarded the tender for the casting of the cylinders and other iron work. The bridge had 54 cylinders in all, each weighing 2.5 tons, six feet long and six feet in diameter. The cast iron cylinders were delivered by bullock dray and assembled on top of each other as internal excavation proceeded. When they finally founded on rock the piers were filled with concrete.
This bridge consists of three wrought iron girder spans of 103 feet each over the main channel of the river, was the first iron truss bridge to be built in New South Wales. The structural wrought iron was imported from England and fabricated in Sydney by P.N. Russell & Co. before being forwarded to the site for installation. Originally the total length of the bridge was 1,030 feet and commenced at the same point at South Gundagai as the present structure but terminated nearly 2,000 feet short of the abutment on the North Gundagai side.
Various realignments over the years have extended its length to 3,021 feet. Hammond & Bocking's tender for the construction of the northern approach was accepted by the Government on 4 April 1866. This work was completed by October 1867.
On 17 April 1867 Mr David Baillie, who had built the Wagga Wagga Bridge was commissioned to construct the viaduct linking the Hammond & Bocking sections of the bridge and finish the northern side near the present Cenotaph. With the approaches still incomplete at this time, the river punt, which could only cross the river when it was low, was still the only form of safe transport across the river, much to the discomfort of everyone. After many complaints, the contractors Hammond & Bocking proposed to construct a temporary approach on the northern side [at a cost of 200 pounds], which was completed by 18 September 1867 and enabled horsemen and vehicles with light loads to cross on the new bridge.
The construction of the permanent approach was commenced by David Baillie on 23 October 1867, which on completion would make the Prince Alfred Bridge the longest bridge in New South Wales [until 1932 with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge]. By 1896 the northern timber viaduct was completely rebuilt on a new alignment, consisting of 105 timber beam spans which were from 15 to 30 feet each. The new approach was constructed by W. Pickering, with the total length of the bridge being extended to 3,025 feet.
The bridge was passed to the control of the Main Roads Board [DMR] in February 1929, by which stage the timber portion of the bridge was in a very bad state of repair. It was estimated that the cost of immediate renewals of timbers necessary to put the bridge into reasonable order would be 19,100 pounds. It was also estimated that a further 19,700 pounds would need to be spent within five years to renew the balance of the old timber. The bridge was closed at this time for a period of three years to undertake necessary repairs. The bridge was reopened in August of 1932, although it was realized that eventually a new bridge would be needed to replace the Prince Alfred, as it was gradually falling into disrepair and becoming harder to maintain. The Gundagai Council was advised by DMR in May 1927 that, after the completion of the new bridge, the DMR would be willing to maintain the Prince Alfred Bridge for the remainder of its economic life, which was estimated to be 20 to 25 years. The new Sheahan Bridge was finally built as part of the Hume Highway by-pass around the town and was opened on 25 May 1977, taking the main road traffic away from the Prince Alfred Bridge for the first time in 100 years. The bridge continued to be utilised for local traffic between north and south Gundagai.
The Prince Alfred Bridge was classified by the National Trust [NSW] in 1975, and was included on the first Register of the National Estate under the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975, as being a structure of unique historical significance worthy of preservation. At this time the intention of the DMR, with support from the Gundagai Council was to burn the bridge down. Due to the condition of the northern approach, and dilapidation state of the overall structure, a new road was constructed in 1984, to take local traffic across the flood plain via a new bridge across Morley's Creek. Upon completion the northern timber approach spans up to the ramp were closed to all traffic. The iron truss bridge continues in service under the control of Roads and Maritime Services, while the viaduct is now the property of the Gundagai Historic Bridges Inc.