Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Happy 145th birthday Windsor Bridge

145 years ago (20 August 1874) Windsor Bridge over the Hawkesbury River was officially opened. The Hawkesbury district celebrated in great style with about 7000 attendees and the day was observed as a holiday.

Opening of Windsor Bridge taken by Thomas Boston
Courtesy State Library of NSW
Some officials arrived on the 11am train from Sydney with many local visitors and representatives, congregating near the Council offices ready for the procession.  These included the local clergy, politicians, plus Mayor John McQuade and the aldermen of Windsor Council. The Windsor Volunteer Band led the procession and the Volunteers, Fire Brigade, the local masonic lodges with their banners “proceeded along Macquarie Street to Dight Street, and thence through George Street to the bridge.”  The Richmond Volunteer Band led the students from the local Public and Catholic schools also participated in the parade which numbered about 600. The procession marched “across the bridge and doubling back” and the official ceremony then began with the Hon. John Sutherland, Minister for Works giving a speech where “he complimented the people upon having such a fine structure, and on the importance of the work.” He particularly mentioned, “why a low-level bridge was erected in place of a high-level structure” and named the structure Windsor Bridge. The crowd applauded and the band played the National Anthem. The children then headed to Miller’s paddock in Macquarie Street where they were given refreshments of cakes and lollies and entertained with a Punch and Judy show and other entertainment.

It was reported that “Windsor was gaily decorated with flags flying from nearly all the houses in the principal streets; and on the bridge were festoons, floral arches, and the flags of all nations.”

Detail of official ceremony and flags on Windsor Bridge by Thomas Boston Courtesy State Library of NSW

Above the bridge hundreds assembled and a bullock roasted, a time-honoured Hawkesbury tradition. There was also a formal lunch for the officials in the Windsor School of Arts where good food was eaten and lots of speeches and toasts were given.  John Sutherland proposed "Success to the Windsor Bridge” and added that “he hoped that it would last longer than the youngest child who had passed over it that day.” To end the festivities, a ball was held in the evening in the old military barracks. 

A bridge over the Hawkesbury River at Windsor was suggested for many years and became a reality when in 1864 a public meeting was held and a decision made to approach the Government. It took many more years for funding to be approved and the construction more than 2 years. The total cost was £10,283.

Courtesy Illustrated Sydney News 19 September 1874  

All of the technical details about the construction of Windsor Bridge are available in this post

One tragedy that took place during construction when 10 year old, Humphrey Albert Douglass, who was working on the bridge, lost his footing and fell into the river and drowned.

Happy 145th birthday Windsor Bridge - still standing proudly crossing the majestic Hawkesbury River, but for how much longer?

140th celebrations in 2014 by Michelle Nichols

Many accounts appeared in the newspapers of the day, including:

1 comment:

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