Heritage and conservation register

Item

Name of Item Tom Uglys Bridge over the Georges River (1929)
Item Number 4301677
Type of Item Built
Item Sub-Type Pre-1930 Metal Road Bridges
Roadloc  
Address **** Princes Highway Sylvania 2224
Local Government Area Kogarah 
Owner Roads and Maritime Services
Current Use Road bridge
Former Use Road bridge

 

Statement of significance

Statement of significance Tom Uglys Bridge has significance because:

* it has been a significant item of infrastructure in the History of Sydney for over 70 years and is unique as a major public work financed by a Local Government Agency, Sutherland Shire Council,

* it has an impressive profile across the Georges River at Sylvania,

* it consolidated the use of steel through trusses for major road bridges, was the last major bridge work by the esteemed Percy Allan and gains technical heritage values by its juxtaposition with the new technology of the steel box girder bridge,

* it has made a significant contribution to the social and commercial development of the whole region immediately south of the River, and further south into the Illawarra district and on to the South Coast,

* it is a fine representative example of a major truss bridge of the period between the two World Wars.

The bridge has been assessed as being of State significance.

Date Significance Updated 16 March 2001

 

Description

Designer Percy Allan
Builder State Monier Works
Construction years **** - 1929
Physical description Tom Uglys Bridge over the Georges River comprises six through Pratt trusses and three deck plate web girders. The Bridge has a concrete deck supported on steel buckled plates between steel stringers.

A degree of ornamentation was incorporated into the piers and abutments, the former by the use of oval-pierced concrete diaphragms and the latter with sandstone faced abutments creating a gateway effect.

The six trusses of the bridge follow the American practice of being tall through trusses with overhead bracing above the traffic. It has an overall length of 499m: 6 trusses of 69.5m and three approach steel girder spans of 27.4m. There is a 4.5m wide footway and the bridge is 10.4m wide between kerbs.

Physical Condition
and/or
Archaeological Potential
Original condition assessment: 'The Bridge is in good condition.' (Last updated: 16/03/2001.) 2007-08 condition update: 'Poor.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Modifications and dates 2006 saw a full repaint of the bridge - the first since its construction in 1929. The repaint was part of an extensive maintenance works package that involves replacing the bridge expansion joints, deck repairs and resurfacing, as well as repainting and refurbishment.
Date condition updated 17 April 2009

 

History

Historical notes If the 1920s are to be regarded as introducing a new era of bridge design construction, then this 1929 bridge is the crowning achievement of the decade.

A proposal for a bridge across the Georges River in this vicinity was considered as far back as 1891 but no action ensued, so a ferry continued service until the 1920's by which time the "explosion" in motor traffic caused serious delays in making the crossing. The nearest other crossings were also ferries, a short distance downstream at Taren Point and a lot further upstream at Lugarno and neither had the capacity to relieve the congestion at Sylvania. Any bridge would o necessity be a major project and the prospect of government intervention was low.

Sutherland Shire council, aware of the restrictions the lack of a bridge was having on the development of its own domain and that of areas further south, and of the economic costs of continued congestion, decided at its meeting on 161 May, 1923 to initiate moves with the Government, to finance a bridge itself. Sutherland Shire Council was making history for up to that time no Council had ever pledged its revenue for such a major public work.

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President C J Munro made a personal commitment to "see the project through". The Government acted quickly in endorsing the scheme by passing the Georges Ricer Act on 12 December, 1923 which included the provision that tolls be levied to repay the money to be borrowed by Council. The estimated cost of the bridge was 190, 000 pounds.

Sutherland Shire Council was making history for up to that time no Council had ever pledged its revenue for such a major public work.

Design of the bridge was prepared by the Public Works Department under the direction of the esteemed Percy Allan, chief Engineer for National and Local Government Works. He supervised construction until March 1926 when his assistant Spencer Dennis took charge. The successful tenders were Armstrong Whitworth Pty Ltd, Scotland, for supply of the steelwork, and Sate Monier Pipe and Reinforced Concrete Works, Sydney, for the construction. The Council borrowed 225,000 pounds via Atlas Assurance Co. of London at 5.5% to be repaid in 20 years. The foundation stone was laid by the Minister for Works, R T Ball, on 7 June 1924.

Overall, construction proceeded reasonably well but there were some financial problems and unexpected problems occurred with the northern (Sydney end) foundations. The steel trusses were assembled nearby on large barges, floated out on a high tide and lowered with a falling tide onto the bearings. The superstructure comprised six 225-feet (69.5m) through Pratt trusses and three 90-feet (27.4m) deck plate web girders. The bridge was fully imported made from Cargo Fleet steel, and the concrete deck was supported on steel buckled plates between the steel stringers.

There was a great deal of prestige and Council pride enshrined in the bridge so a degree of ornamentation was incorporated into the piers and abutments, the former by the use of local-piered concrete diaphragms and the latter with sandstone faced abutments creating a gateway effect. The bridge was opened by the State Governor, Sir Dudley de Chair, on 11 May, 1929, a five year project with a final cost of 308,509 pounds.

Tolls were levied until 31 May 1952 after they had generated enough revenue to meet all loan indebtedness. But the inexorable increase in traffic volumes with lengthy delays at peak hours and holiday times led to the decision around 1980 to build a duplicate crossing on the downstream side. It was to be a change in technology with state-of-the-art three continuous welded steel boxes, incrementally launched from the Sylvania shore then topped with a concrete deck. It was opened, toll free, on 17 October, 1987 for the southbound traffic with the old bridge assigned to northbound traffic.

 

Listings

Heritage Listing Reference Number Gazette Number Gazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register       
Local Environmental Plan  143  7981 
Local Environmental Plan  A013  074  3227 

 

Assessment of Significance

Historical Significance The Bridge has high historical significance because at 499m it was the longest road bridge in Australia. Design was prepared by the esteemed Percy Allan, Chief Engineer for National and Local Government Works. Sutherland Shire Council was making history for up to that time no Council ever pledged its revenue for such a major public work. It significantly helped open up the whole region south of the river and the South Coast.
Historical Association ****
Aesthetic/Technical Significance The Bridge exhibits the technical excellence of its design, as all of the structural detail is clearly visible. In the context of its landscape it is visually attractive and aesthetically distinctive. The Bridge is set in a very wide section of the Georges River. Due to its length and type it has landmark qualities. As such, the bridge has high aesthetic significance.
Social Significance The Bridge is valued because it is a major crossing of the Georges River. It has made a significant contribution to the social and commercial development of the whole region immediately south of the river, and further south into the Illawarra District and on to the South Coast. There was a great deal of prestige and council pride enshrined in the Bridge, shown by the ornamentation incorporated into the piers and abutments, and this pride continues to this day when the Bridge is also highly valued by the community.
Research Significance The Bridge consolidated the use of steel through trusses for major road bridges. It was the last major bridge work by the esteemed Percy Allan and gains technical heritage values by its juxtaposition with the new technology of the steel box girder bridge.
Rarity ****
Representativenes Fine representative example of a major truss bridge of the period between the two world wars.
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 Sydney
Bridge Number 29
CARMS File Number ****
Property Number Bridge
Conservation Management Plan ****

 

Images

Tom Uglys Bridge - General View - Oblique
Tom Uglys Bridge - General View - Oblique