Roads and Bridges Book ; 1876; 2014/005


Wauchope Museum


Roads and Bridges Book

About this object

This large leather-bound book contains hand-drawn cross section technical drawings and construction and maintenance records of sixty-six wooden bridges built between 1876 and 1931. The bridges were built over a wide area of the present day Port Macquarie Hastings Council district. The record reflects the spread of human activity in the district with the settlement of the hinterland and the movement of people within and through this area. The streams may have initially been forded but the building of bridges reflects the increasing use of the roads with the expansion of settlement and the need for better access. The book illustrates the extent of the task needed to provide such bridge access over the many rivers and streams which are a feature of this area.

While much has been recorded about the building of the main bridges over the Hastings River (Bain Bridge, the railway bridge, etc.), very little was written about the myriad of small wooden bridges, mostly built before the Hastings River was spanned by any bridge. While the cover of this book is in poor condition, the entries are well preserved and readable and may be the only record of many of these bridges. The pen and ink drawings of the bridges are appealing in their neat detail. The sketches show the profile of the river bed and therefore have possible research potential as a record of the river at the time of construction The book does not record which department created it but it was probably a local council record. Whoever made this record, it certainly took a great deal of time to painstakingly make the drawings and write out the information.

Timber for the bridges would have been sourced locally making this book relevant not only to the themes of transport and settlement but to the district’s important timber industry. This book reflects the extent of the timber working skills which existed in this area. It is a reminder of those timber bridges, often well-loved for their individual design and aesthetic appeal, many of which no longer exist.

Sue Frost
14 July 2014

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