Heritage and conservation register

Item

Name of Item Georges River Bridge
Item Number 4305035
Type of Item Built
Item Sub-Type Steel Girder
Roadloc  
Address **** Newbridge Road Liverpool 2170
Local Government Area Liverpool City 
Owner Roads and Maritime Services
Current Use Road bridge
Former Use Road bridge

 

Statement of significance

Statement of significance The steel girder bridge on the Georges River on Newbridge Road is of historic and aesthetic significance. An impressive structure in height and width, crossing a waterway of great historical significance as well as the main southern railway line, it is part of a suite of items in the immediate area which demonstrate various phases in the history of transport and access across the Georges River, which was vital to the development of Liverpool as a key agricultural, military, industrial, commercial and residential area in New South Wales. The bridge was constructed in the context of improvements undertaken by the DMR in the post-war period that sought to adapt main transport conduits to a new era. Its impressive aesthetic attributes, including views to and from the bridge, give it landmark qualities. Much of its support structure is set amid parkland, making it more accessible and making it more of an integral part of the locality, rather than a merely utilitarian structure, thereby adding to its ability to contribute to locals' sense of place.
Date Significance Updated 05 October 2004

 

Description

Designer DMR
Builder Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Co. Ltd.
Construction years 1954 - 1958
Physical description This large steel plate web girder bridge carries Newbridge Road from central Liverpool across Pirie Street, the Main Southern Railway Line, and the flood plain and main channel of the Georges River.

With a total of ten spans, the bridge uses three spans of shorter length across the western street and rail line, terminating on an abutment-like wall pier. East of this are seven longer spans using deeper girders to cross the flood plain and river. The flood plain here is a well developed parkland with picnic and exercise facilities, all affording impressive views of the underside of this large bridge.

The deck is of reinforced concrete, supported on four main plate web girders supporting the four traffic lanes, and two outer girders supporting the footways. These girders consist of welded sections approximately 10m long which have been connected using bolted splices. Utilities are supported under the deck. Each span also has end and intermediate steel cross girders. The side beams supporting the footway are in turn carried by steel cantilever beams.

The piers of the longer spans have two rectangular tapering columns with headstocks servicing the eight fixed and rocker type bearings of the simply supported girders. As noted, the pier between the western 3 spans and the remainder is of wall type, with columns on the eastern side to provide support area for the eastern bearings at the pier. The final two western piers are of steel, with four columns each having widened capitals to receive the pairs of bearings.

Pedestrian access across the bridge is provided on both the upstream and downstream side, with an additional stair providing an exit from the northern walkway on the eastern side of the railway. Pedestrian traffic on the bridge is separated from road traffic by a railing, whilst the outer railing is slightly higher for most of the bridge, but replaced by a concrete parapet across the railway spans.

Downstream of the bridge are the pier remains of the old rail crossing which serviced Holsworthy. This now carries pedestrian traffic on a retrofitted Bailey bridge. Immediately downstream (north) of this is an old weir of semi-circular layout, which still ensures a constant level of water under the bridge.

Physical Condition
and/or
Archaeological Potential
Original condition assessment: 'The bridge is in generally very good condition. Some patching of spalls on pier headstocks was noted, and minor spalls were also evident. The expansion joints tend to be noisy despite being of the finger plate style. No evidence of the previous timber bridge was noted.' (Last updated: 5/10/2004.) 2007-08 condition update: 'Poor.' (Last updated: 17/4/09.)
Modifications and dates The additional pedestrian ramps and stair which provides central access to the bridge is of recent origin (probably within the last 10 years)
Date condition updated 17 April 2009

 

History

Historical notes The Georges River Bridge crosses the Georges River on Newbridge Road, Liverpool. The Aboriginal occupants of this part of the river belonged to the Dharruk language group, for whom it provided a rich source of food. European settlement began along the Georges River from the late 1790s, encouraged by the good quality soil along the river's banks, though most of the early grants went to officers and officials. When Governor Macquarie arrived in the colony in 1810 he toured the newly settled areas of the Georges River and selected and surveyed a site for a new township to be named Liverpool in honour of the Earl of that Title, then Secretary of State for the Colonies. Macquarie was keen to establish new townships on high grounds to avoid the disastrous effects of flooding, as had recently been experienced on the Hawkesbury, destroying crops. He intended that Liverpool and other so-called "Macquarie Towns" would serve Sydney as depots for the shipment of grain and produce to Government Stores and as administrative centres for convicts employed by settlers and those in the various road and clearing gangs. (Kass, 1983, n.p.; Keating, 1996, p. 7)

Prior to the arrival of Governor Macquarie in 1810 there was little government expenditure on road development. Water transport was relied on heavily for conveying goods between settlements and tracks developed informally between grants and from Aboriginal pathways. In September 1810 a call was made for subscriptions to build five bridges on the Georges River Road (Milperra / Canterbury Roads) suggesting that this was a well used track well on the way to road status. The area developed slowly until after the Liverpool Road was constructed in 1814, after which, settlements sprang up along the road. (Pollon, 1996, p.19; HAAH, 2004, p. 52) It is thought that the earliest crossing of the Georges River other than by boat, was probably a dam just downstream of the site of the present bridge. It was built around 1836, possibly designed by David Lennox, Superintendent of Bridges, while he was supervising the building of the Lansdowne Bridge over Prospect Creek on the Liverpool Road, though Captain W. H. Christie, Superintendent of Ironed Gangs, oversaw the dam project. The dam was built primarily as a means of improving and conserving the district's water supply, but it was also used by pedestrians and gave vehicular access to the areas of Moorebank and Holsworthy lying on the south bank of the river. The work was of such importance to locals that they presented Christie with a piece of silver plate in June 1839 in gratitude for his securing them an abundant supply of fresh water. "Tegg's Almanac" claimed in 1842 that the dam would bring greatness and prosperity to Liverpool by opening up waste or inaccessible land to cultivation.

The role of transport is of great significance to Liverpool's development and important infrastructural links such as the dam and Lansdowne Bridge placed it in a closer relationship to Sydney. Eulogies about Liverpool's bright future all stress the importance of the bridge, the dam and the river. (Main Roads, June 1958, p. 107; Keating, 1996, pp. 63-64) In 1891 a Liverpool Council alderman reported that "many a child had a narrow escape" when crossing the dam, which, since 1836 had been the only crossing of the Georges River at Liverpool. A horse had also been washed over the dam and nearly drowned. Council had been lobbying the government for years to construct a bridge "to connect the agricultural with the commercial parts of Liverpool," and in 1894 George Weeks built a timber truss bridge, 452 feet long and 15 feet wide to cross the river just south of the railway station (the Great Southern Railway having reached Liverpool in 1858, extending to Goulburn in 1869). The western approach to the bridge was via a hairpin bend from the south end of Bigge Street, which remained a traffic hazard in Liverpool until the time of the present bridge's construction. (Main Roads, June 1958, p. 107; Keating, 1996, p. 133)

The military has a long association with the Liverpool area, with encampments and manoeuvres taking place in the area since the 1890s. In the years immediately preceding World War I a Remount Depot was established and a large area of land resumed for an army camp, now known as the "Old Holsworthy Camp", which included the Anzac Rifle Range, completed by 1916. In December 1917 work commenced on a rail link from Liverpool Station to the military area and lines were completed in 1919 linking a new Ordnance Depot, Remount Depot, Anzac Rifle Range and terminating at the Old Holsworthy Camp. The concrete supports for the railway bridge are now used to carry the footbridge (built c. 1940s or later) across the Georges River. (Keating, 1996, pp. 146-147, 155)

During World War I, an influx of heavy vehicle traffic travelling to and from army camps and military areas in the Liverpool / Holsworthy areas led to pressure to repair and upgrade roads. In 1915, however, Liverpool Council declined a request to widen the approaches to the bridge over the Georges River on Milperra / Newbridge Roads. The request was passed on to the Public Works Department. (HAAH, 2004, p. 19)The area was characterised by appalling roads in the early twentieth century. On many occasions it was necessary to lead a horse through the potholes and mire of the Georges River Road (renamed Milperra Road in 1918). A bridge was constructed on this road (to the east of the study site, close to the now Bankstown Airport) in 1931 to provide an eastern crossing of the river. Keen to promote further residential development in the area, Council believed it would make the extreme southern portions of the municipality more attractive to potential residents who had previously shunned this area due to its isolation. (Rosen, 1996, p. 102)

Some of the roads and bridges in the district were built as part of the unemployment relief schemes of the Depression years and its aftermath. Newbridge Road, which connected the new eastern crossing of the Georges River to the old western crossing at Liverpool, was built in the 1930s as part of this scheme. (HAAH, 2004, p. 17) This final link thus provided Liverpool with an alternative route east, using Newbridge Road, Milperra Road and Canterbury Road to give access to Sydney.

From the early twentieth century through to the post-World War II period, the process of urbanisation in the Liverpool area steadily intensified. Some of the factors influencing its development and swelling its population included the redistribution of some of Sydney's population through the slum-clearance program in the inner city; the establishment of army camps and other military facilities and the development of soldier settlement areas such as Milperra in the years following WWI. The decade to 1921 saw the population of the Liverpool area increase by 60 percent. During and after World War II industrial activity in the region increased, and between 1938 and 1947 the population grew by 84 percent. Coupled with an influx of migrants in the post-war period was the rapid rise in private motor vehicle ownership taking place across the state. All of these factors intensified the need for improved roads and transport infrastructure in and around Liverpool. (Keating, 1996, p. 143)

Part of the extensive road improvements carried out in the region in the post-war period was the new steel girder bridge built over the Georges River at Liverpool between 1954 and 1958 to improve the Newbridge Road. The bridge replaced the old timber bridge built c. 1894, which had reached the end of its economic life and was inadequate for existing and future traffic requirements in terms of width, loading capacity and the alignment of its approaches. The new bridge eliminated the dangerous dog leg on the Liverpool approach. (HAAH, 2004, p. 49) Consisting of a reinforced concrete deck resting on ten welded steel plate girder spans supported by concrete piers founded in some cases on reinforced concrete cylinders, and in other cases on reinforced concrete piles, the bridge was 912 feet long and 58 feet wide with two six-feet wide footways on either side. Three separate contracts were let for the manufacture and supply of metalwork and machinery; construction of concrete piers and abutments; and construction, erection and final completion of the bridge. All work was carried out by the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company Ltd. of Darlington, England. The new bridge was officially opened by the Hon. J. J. Cahill, M.L.A., Premier and Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales, on 15 March 1958. (Main Roads, March 1951, p. 96; Main Roads, June 1952, p. 127; Main Roads, June 1958, p. 105)

The Bankstown approach included a level crossing of the single-track branch railway line to Holsworthy. While traffic on this line was limited to about one train per week at the time of the bridge's construction, it was expected that the area south of the Bankstown approach would develop due to the establishment of commercial factories and staff residential areas surrounding them, which could lead to more frequent railway traffic and possible duplication of the track. With this in mind, the grade of the new bridge was designed so as to permit the bridging of the Holsworthy branch railway line and the rearrangement of the nearby intersection of Main Roads 512 and 167. The Liverpool approach to the bridge was designed so that local traffic would have convenient access to the business centre and railway station, while through traffic could avoid the busy main street. (Main Roads, March 1951, p. 96)

The bridge became a vital part of the transport infrastructure of Liverpool, forming an imposing structure over this major waterway. In the years following its construction, Liverpool again experienced a residential boom; commercial and industrial expansion and a huge increase in local traffic, as, despite the availability of the rail link and other public transport facilities, the majority of commuters rely on private motor transport.

 

Listings

Heritage Listing Reference Number Gazette Number Gazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register       

 

Assessment of Significance

Historical Significance The bridge is significant in providing a crossing of a major waterway, access over which was vital to establishing effective communication links between Sydney and Liverpool. An imposing structure crossing both the Georges River and the main southern railway line, the bridge represents the pivotal role played by transport infrastructure in the development of Liverpool, which, over time, has been a centre associated with several key aspects of the State's economy including agriculture, defence, industry and commerce, developing in the later twentieth century as a satellite city of Sydney. The bridge's construction, replacing an earlier timber bridge, also represents the DMR's efforts in the post-war period to adapt main transport routes to the requirements of a new era. The bridge is part of a suite of significant sites in the history of the area that speak of various phases in the history of transport and bridge infrastructure in the locality. Downstream, to the north of the bridge is the dam, possibly designed by David Lennox, which provided the first crossing of the Georges River at Liverpool. Nearby and visible from the bridge is the footbridge, built on the concrete supports of the former railway line that linked Liverpool Station to the Holsworthy army camp, providing a reminder of the once prominent role of the military in the area.
Historical Association ****
Aesthetic/Technical Significance The bridge is an impressive structure in length and height, particularly when viewed from below, or from the side, its piers and spans towering above the flood plain. Its siting in the landscape adds to the bridge's aesthetic value as the flood plain here is a well developed parkland with picnic and exercise facilities, all affording impressive views of the underside of this large bridge.
Social Significance The accessibility and visibility of the bridge from the parkland and picnic area beneath it means that it is likely to be a site well known and visited by locals.
Research Significance As possibly the largest structure of its type the bridge has the capacity to be instructive about the technology and construction techniques involved in building such a long span bridge crossing both a major waterway and railway line.
Rarity ****
Representativenes It is a good example of large plate web girder bridge construction.
Integrity/Intactness Good
Assessed Significance State

 

References

 

Type Author Year Title
Written  Sue Rosen  1996  Bankstown, A Sense of Identity 
Written  Heritage Assessment And History  2004  Sydney Region Heritage Studies Liverpool Sub-Region Phase 1 
Written  Department of Main Roads  1958  Main Roads (June 1958) 
Written  Department of Main Roads  1952  Main Roads (June 1952) 
Written  Terry Kass  1983  Heritage Study Municipality of Bankstown 
Written  Frances Pollon  1996  The Book of Sydney Suburbs 
Written  Christopher Keating  1996  On the Frontier, A Social History of Liverpool 
Written  Department of Main Roads  1951  Main Roads (March 1951) 

 

Study details

Title Year Author Inspected by Guidelines used
Sydney Region Heritage Studies - Liverpool Sub Region Phase 1  2004  Emma Dortins, Sue Rosen, of Heritage Assessment And History (HAAH)    Yes 
Study of Heritage Significance of a Group of Roads and Maritime Services Controlled Bridges & Ferries  2004  HAAH - Sue Rosen and Associates    Yes 

 

Custom fields

Roads and Maritime Services Region Sydney
Bridge Number 502
CARMS File Number ****
Property Number Bridge
Conservation Management Plan ****

 

Images

Typical beam splice using high strength bolts. Note W shaped plate termination adjacent to bottom flange splice is used to minimise fatigue stress concentrations.
Typical beam splice using high strength bolts. Note W shaped plate termination adjacent to bottom flange splice is used to minimise fatigue stress concentrations.

Western span crossing Bigge Street
Western span crossing Bigge Street

Piers of old rail bridge on Holsworthy line, now supporting Bailey Bridging pedestrian bridge.. Weir is in foreground and road bridge in background.
Piers of old rail bridge on Holsworthy line, now supporting Bailey Bridging pedestrian bridge.. Weir is in foreground and road bridge in background.

Panoramic view of bridge from pedestrian bridge on old railway bridge. (Image digitally joined)
Panoramic view of bridge from pedestrian bridge on old railway bridge. (Image digitally joined)

View west across bridge from eastern end
View west across bridge from eastern end

Repairs and further spalling on pier headstock
Repairs and further spalling on pier headstock

Weir downstream from bridge, reputedly by Lennox, and used as early crossing.
Weir downstream from bridge, reputedly by Lennox, and used as early crossing.

View east to bridge with pedestrian overbridge in foreground
View east to bridge with pedestrian overbridge in foreground

River spans. Boxes over piers enclose access to bearing inspection catwalks.
River spans. Boxes over piers enclose access to bearing inspection catwalks.

View west along southern walkway over rail line showing protective parapet on left. Separation rail to traffic is on right.
View west along southern walkway over rail line showing protective parapet on left. Separation rail to traffic is on right.

Monumental face of transition pier
Monumental face of transition pier

Wall type transition pier east of railway. Note change in girder depth to suit railway clearance (and smaller spans)
Wall type transition pier east of railway. Note change in girder depth to suit railway clearance (and smaller spans)

Western end of bridge with three spans crossing Main Southern Railway and Bigge Street (at rear)
Western end of bridge with three spans crossing Main Southern Railway and Bigge Street (at rear)

Eastern face of transition  pier with extra bearing support columns
Eastern face of transition pier with extra bearing support columns

Typical bearing arrangement. Spherical fixed bearing is on right and spherical/rocker bearing for expansion is on left
Typical bearing arrangement. Spherical fixed bearing is on right and spherical/rocker bearing for expansion is on left

Cantilevers supporting pedestrian edge girders
Cantilevers supporting pedestrian edge girders

Underside of deck across rail spans, with shallower girders. Note four column steel piers with enlarged capitals for bearings
Underside of deck across rail spans, with shallower girders. Note four column steel piers with enlarged capitals for bearings

Pedestrian access stair from path in parkland
Pedestrian access stair from path in parkland

View under deck showing typical pier, access catwalk, also four main girders and two edge girders, crossgirders and deck
View under deck showing typical pier, access catwalk, also four main girders and two edge girders, crossgirders and deck

Oblique view of bridge crossing flood plain of Georges River, with river in background. Note main plate web girders with edge girder under walkway supported by cantilevers at cross girders.
Oblique view of bridge crossing flood plain of Georges River, with river in background. Note main plate web girders with edge girder under walkway supported by cantilevers at cross girders.