Saturday, 22 August 2015

Windsor's McQuade Bridge

There are several things in Windsor named after the McQuade family including McQuade Park and McQuade Avenue but did you realise there were plans to call the bridge across the Hawkesbury River  at Windsor, McQuade Bridge?

In 1871 local government was established in the Hawkesbury when the Windsor Borough Council began. The newly established council named the reserve, Windsor Park, however this was rescinded in 1874 by John McQuade, the Mayor.

John Michael McQuade was born about 1826 and was the son of convict Michael McQuade and his wife, Sarah Conolly. McQuade was elected as one of the first councillors and served two terms as Mayor, first in 1872 and then in 1874. After he rescinded the decision to to name the reserve, Windsor Park, he then used his casting vote to rename it McQuade Park. 

A sign “was erected with McQuade Park painted in gold letters.” It was vandalised on more than once and “was smeared with tar and had to be repainted.” On 6 March 1878, When William Walker was serving as Mayor, all of the previous resolutions relating to the naming of the park were rescinded and the name Windsor Park was given. This however was futile was as the name was in the common use and it has remained unofficially McQuade Park.

In June 1874 a letter to the editor of the Australian, Windsor, Richmond & Hawkesbury Advertiser newspaper, published in Windsor, was printed. The writer was anonymous, using the non-de-plume 'Sagittarius' informed readers that friends of Mr. McQuade were trying to have the new bridge in Windsor called the McQuade Bridge. It goes on to state:
To be forewarned is to be forearmed. Surely it is sufficient, and more than sufficient, to have the park called after that individual, but pray do not tamely submit to having the new bridge burlesqued in this way. Whatever has McQuade done for the district to entitle his name to be appended to your public buildings in any way? Whatever has he or his ancestry or descendants ever done to deserve any distinction—any public recognition whatever? Have they added to the moral stamina of the district? Have they added to its respectability? Have they increased its intelligence? What have they done? If so name the bridge 'McQuade' it is a pretty name! These are most important questions, and to my mind not to be trifled with. I therefore trust that some influence will be used, to prevent the name of the new bridge from being prostituted by any other name than that of the ' Windsor' or ' Hawkesbury' bridge. I do think I would be a grave mistake to name the bridge after McQuade. The bridge crossing the Macquarie at Bathurst, is named after the Governor of the day, ' Denison.'
Other bridges are named after the townships in which they are built, and I know of none in the colony where they are named after a comparatively obscure individual. Call it 'Robinson Gap' or the 'Devils Causeway' ; but do not, pray do not give a name that will puzzle future generations, and perhaps in their minds give rise to Tipperary ideas or Donnybrook notions.
Should the bridge be called McQuade what will those say who come after us? Who was McQuade? Where did he come from?  Where has he gone to? Are his sons living? If not what were they when in the flesh? All these ideas will burst upon the innocent minds of future generations, and it will be well if a Gosper, a Primrose or a Moses should be alive to answer them. Much better if a Dean should then exist, to whip their recreant imaginations beyond the McQuade folly.
The plan never came to fruition and the structure was named, and remains, the Windsor Bridge. It was officially opened on the 20 August 1874 and still stands proudly crossing the majestic Hawkesbury River.

McQuade died 19 August 1891 aged 65 and is buried in the Windsor Catholic Cemetery.

 McQuade's headstone in Windsor Catholic Cemetery.
Photo: Michelle Nichols