Hon David Templeman Dip Tchg BEd MLA

Hon David Templeman Dip Tchg BEd MLA

Minister for Culture and the Arts; Sport and Recreation; International Education; Heritage

    Rare convict bridge recognised in State Heritage Register

    31/01/2022 10:30 AM
     
    • Registration of exceptionally rare Geraldton landmark in State Register of Heritage Places
    • Chapman River Road Bridge recognised for its engineering and important role in the economic development of the region

    A masonry road bridge built by convicts in Geraldton has today been added to the State's Register of Heritage Places.

     

    The Chapman River Road Bridge is found in a region that was occupied by Aboriginal families for tens of thousands of years, the Amangu and Naaguja Aboriginal groups, who used the area for fresh water and a place of spiritual significance.

     

    Colonial explorers found fertile land surrounding the river, and the discovery of coal and lead ore in 1846 led to further growth.

     

    Due to flooding in the area, construction of the Chapman River Road Bridge began in 1863 to transport supplies and minerals.

     

    The Chapman River Road Bridge is one of the three oldest bridges of any type and the oldest extant example of a masonry road bridge in the State, with the convict-constructed core of the structure still functioning.

     

    Designed by the Royal Engineers, the bridge demonstrates the impact of convict labour on the rapid development of public works infrastructure throughout the State during the colonial period.

     

    Relatively intact, the bridge is an example of technical excellence in masonry construction using the blade pier technique.

     

    While the original superstructure has been replaced with concrete slab, the original, convict-built masonry piers are still intact at the core and covered in a thin cement render that was likely added in the 1950s to 1970s.

     

    Comments attributed to Heritage Minister David Templeman:

     

    "The State Register of Heritage Places plays an important role in recognising and conserving our State's places of heritage significance and they collectively tell a story of our social, cultural and civic past.

     

    "The Chapman River Road Bridge demonstrates the economic development of the region that was possible with convict labour and the expertise of the Royal Engineers, and formed part of the pathway between Champion Bay and the mineral field around Northampton.

     

    "The bridge is still in use today and continues to be a striking visual landmark in Geraldton. It is a valuable addition to the State Register of Heritage Places."

     

    Comments attributed to Geraldton MLA Lara Dalton:

     

    "It's amazing to think that the Chapman River Road Bridge still contains the original masonry piers built over 150 years ago.

     

    "Everyday users would have no idea that this bridge contains such a unique example of early colonial engineering.

     

    "I am glad that the Chapman River Bridge will be placed on the register and that we will preserve this piece of Mid-West history."

     

    Minister's office - 6552 5400