Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Grafton’s ‘Bendy Bridge’ turns 90

Clarence Valley Council will this weekend celebrate the 90th birthday of a piece of infrastructure that was integral to the development of the North Coast and intercity transport of Grafton – the Grafton Bridge.

“Long before the first bridge was built across the Clarence in Grafton, a steam punt established in 1859 carried passengers across the ‘Big River’,” said Clarence Valley Mayor, Ian Tiley.

“I well recall, also as Mayor, participating in celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the bridge in 2007 when we drove vintage cars across the bascule truss bridge to commemorate the anniversary.”

The double-decker Grafton Bridge is affectionately known to locals as the ‘Bendy Bridge’ as it has a bend at each approach to allow the railway to continue straight ahead while the road diverges.

A Transport for NSW spokesperson said it was difficult to appreciate just how important the Grafton Bridge was to the development of the North Coast.

“The only way to cross the Clarence River was by ferry until the Grafton Bridge opened on 19 July, 1932,” the spokesperson said.

“The bridge solved all sorts of logistical problems, particularly for rail traffic, and 90 years later the bridge is still going strong and remains a vital part of the Clarence Valley transport network. It will serve Clarence residents for generations to come.”

The Clarence River Historical Society is unveiling an exhibition at Schaeffer House today to mark the 90th anniversary of the opening of the bridge.

“Ninety years ago today – on 19 July, 1932 – the Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs opened the Clarence River Double Decker Rail and Traffic Bridge – as it was called in the Official Programme,” the Society said in a statement this week.

You can check out the Society’s fascinating collection of memorabilia at Schaeffer House, 190 Fitzroy Street, Grafton today (19 July), tomorrow (20 July) or Thursday (21 July) between 1pm and 4pm.

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