Hawthorn Bridge

Melbourne, Australia

Hawthorn Bridge

The Hawthorn Bridge crosses the Yarra River, five kilometres (3.1 mi) east of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, connecting Bridge Road and Burwood Road. It is the oldest extant bridge over the Yarra River and is one of the oldest metal bridges in Australia. It was constructed in the early wave of major new infrastructure funded by the Victorian gold rush. Designed by Francis Bell, it is a substantial riveted, wrought iron, lattice truss structure, with bluestone abutments and piers.

Tenders were called on 21 April 1857 by the Board of Land and Works, for erecting the piers for a new bridge and, in the following month, the tender of J. McKenzie was accepted at £10,000. To obtain better foundations, a slight alteration had been made to the proposed site, while the estimated cost, including cuttings from both Burwood Road and Church Street, was £40,000. The specified date for completion of the bluestone piers and abutments was December 1857, but they were not finished until February 1858, and the actual cost was £10,065. The wrought iron truss components were ordered from Britain. However, the ship Herald of the Morning, which carried the bridge components to Melbourne in 1859 as deck cargo, caught fire in Hobsons Bay before it could be unloaded, and was scuttled to extinguish the fire. The consignment bridge materials weighed some 350 tons and, together with its erection cranes, had cost £10,500, so the sinking of Herald of the Morning represented a disaster for Melbourne's metropolitan bridge-building program. The contractors for the bridge were allowed an extension of time to import similar bridge-works from Britain. The ordering, manufacturing and delivery of the new structure delayed completion of the bridge until November 1861.

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