Heritage and conservation register

Item

Name of Item Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River
Item Number 4301658
Type of Item Built
Item Sub-Type Pre-1930 Metal Road Bridges
Roadloc  
Address **** Princes Highway Nowra 2541
Local Government Area Shoalhaven City 
Owner Roads and Maritime Services
Current Use Road bridge
Former Use Road bridge

 

Statement of significance

Statement of significance The Nowra Bridge has significance because:

* it has been an important item of infrastructure in the history of New South Wales for over 120 years,

* it is a technically sophisticated bridge structure and unique for its time,

* it has strong aesthetic lines despite its lightweight appearance,

* it contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of the South Coast District of New South Wales.

* it is associated with the famous American civil engineer and specialist bridge designer, C Shaler Smith.

This bridge has been assessed as being of State significance.

Date Significance Updated 19 March 2001

 

Description

Designer C Shaler Smith
Builder Edge Moor Iron Co.
Construction years **** - 1881
Physical description The Nowra Bridge over the Shoalhaven River is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales. There are eight main spans supported on eight pairs of cast iron cylindrical piers and a steel girder approach span at one end.

The eight trusses of the Bridge follow the American practice of being tall through trusses with overhead bracing above the traffic and of using large pins at the joints. It has an overall length of 342m: an end truss of 56m, 7 trusses of 38.5m and an approach span of 15m.

There is a 1.3m wide footway and the bridge is 5.8m wide between kerbs.

Physical Condition
and/or
Archaeological Potential
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge is in good condition' (Last updated: 18/01/2001.) 2007-08 condition update: 'Poor.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Modifications and dates 1981 - Deck upgrading.
Date condition updated 17 April 2009

 

History

Historical notes This unique Bridge was intended for a double track railway use but schemes for a South Coast Railway to Bega never eventuated. In fact when the government railway was completed in June 1893 it stopped on the north side of the river at Bomaderry, never to cross into Nowra on the existing Bridge, so the Bridge has been used for 2-lane road traffic for over 120 years.

The bridge had a timber deck for 100 years until in 1981 reinforced concrete was laid over steel Armco decking. The pairs of cast iron piers are original and were supplied locally by the Atlas Foundry, Sydney. At 1013 feet (309m) overall it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales prior to the 1889 Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

It is unique because it is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales.

********************

The Nowra Bridge was designed by a famous American civil engineer and specialist bridge engineer, C Shaler Smith, for the Edge Moor Iron Co., a well known bridge fabricator and builder in the USA. The eight trusses of the bridge follow the American practice of being tall through trusses with overhead bracing above the traffic and of suing large pins at the joints because that significantly reduced assembly and erection times. Also unique was the use of steel, imported from the USA, some 14 years ahead of its general use in New South Wales. The popular contemporary metal bridge in New South Wales was the wrought iron, half-through, lattice truss, essentially a British bridge of riveted construction.

An opportunity to compare the two types of bridges occurred during the 1879 International Exhibition in Sydney where a span of each type was assembled in the grounds of the Exhibition area. Although the American truss drew interest and praise from the judges, their final comment that "taking all different points into consideration we concluded that, unless under peculiar circumstances, the lattice type bridge is preferable for both railways and road in this colony". Stifled the introduction of American bridge technology until the mid-1890's.

The bridge had a timber deck for 100 years until in 1981 reinforced concrete was laid over steel Armco decking. The pairs of cast iron piers are original and were supplied locally by the Atlas Foundry, Sydney. At 1013 feet (309m) overall it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales prior to the 1889 Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge.

 

Listings

Heritage Listing Reference Number Gazette Number Gazette Page
Regional Environmental Plan  Sch 1     
Register of the National Estate       
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register       

 

Assessment of Significance

Historical Significance The Bridge has high historical significance because it is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales. At 309m overall it was the largest bridge project in New South Wales prior to the 1889 Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge. It significantly helped open up the Illawarra and South Coast districts. It was designed by the former American civil engineer and specialist bridge engineer, C Shaler Smith.
Historical Association ****
Aesthetic/Technical Significance The bridge exhibits the technical excellence of its design, as all of the structural detail are clearly visible. In the context of its landscape it is visually attractive and has strong aesthetic lines. Unlike most bridges, it is particularly striking to those who use the bridge because it is such a long bridge and users are enveloped in the truss. The bridge is set in a very wide section of the river. Due to its length and type it is a landmark structure, a gateway to the South Coast. As such, the bridge has high aesthetic significance.
Social Significance The bridge is valued by locals and tourists as it is a major crossing of the Shoalhaven River. The bridge contributed significantly to the social and commercial development of the South Coast district of New South Wales.
Research Significance The bridge has high technical significance because it is the only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in New South Wales. Also unique was the use of steel, imported from the USA, some 14 years ahead of its general use in New South Wales, It is a rare example of this type of bridge in New South Wales.
Rarity Only American pin-jointed Whipple truss in service in NSW.
Representativenes It is a fine representative example of a Whipple truss bridge.
Integrity/Intactness Intact
Assessed Significance State

 

References

 

Type Author Year Title

 

Study details

Title Year Author Inspected by Guidelines used
Study of Heritage Sig. of pre 1930 Roads and Maritime Services Controlled Metal Road Bridges in NSW  2001  Cardno MBK    Yes 

 

Custom fields

Roads and Maritime Services Region Southern
Bridge Number 713
CARMS File Number ****
Property Number Bridge
Conservation Management Plan ****

 

Images

The Nowra Bridge - General View - Oblique
The Nowra Bridge - General View - Oblique