Banquet Invitation, Bain Bridge Opening ; 1907; 2014/003


Wauchope Museum


Banquet Invitation, Bain Bridge Opening

About this object

This tattered invitation is to the banquet celebrating the opening of Bain Bridge, the first bridge across the Hastings River, on August 14, 1907. It is our only tangible connection to the celebration of a long awaited and hard fought for piece of infrastructure that brought an end to the hardship and inconvenience of crossing a major river in all weathers, often in dangerous conditions and sometimes with loss of life.

The opening of the bridge was attended by a large crowd of Hastings residents, but the banquet that night was a men-only affair. Over 60 gentlemen, including the local Member of Parliament Mr Robert Davidson, sat down to a sumptuous banquet in a hall that had been artistically decorated. Numerous toasts were drunk to the King, the Ministry and Parliament, visitors, the builders and officials, Shire councillors, the press, the ladies, the host and hostess, the Chairman and to the prosperity of the Hastings district.

This is a complimentary invitation which would have been issued to one of the dignitaries presiding at the dinner. Otherwise the five shilling cost of a ticket would have limited those able to attend, when the average daily rate of pay for a labourer was seven shillings. The press reflected gender attitudes of the day by reporting the toast to “The Ladies” for their input into the banquet, and the ‘pleasant sight they made at that day’s function.’

The opening of Bain Bridge brought security to people and their animals and produce, helping to lessen isolation and develop better social and commercial links. The bridge’s linking of the Upper Hastings with Wauchope became even more important when Beechwood’s dominance as a commercial centre was diminished by the coming of the North Coast Railway to Wauchope in 1915. The escalating population of the Upper Hastings was no longer separated by the river from the developing community of Wauchope.

The bridge continues to be important to the Hastings district, used every day in large numbers by commuters and other travellers. Had it been constructed with greater clearance of the river, its inundation in time of flood could have been avoided. Nevertheless, in modern times a car journey along the northern bank of the river via Morton’s Creek Bridge and across the Hastings at Rocks Ferry Bridge does not constitute much of an inconvenience to the traveller in times of flood.

Mary Wagg
22 June 2014

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