NSW’s timber truss bridge heritage – Clarence Town Bridge

Clarence Town Bridge is the oldest timber truss road bridge in NSW. Built in 1880, it is an extremely rare example of its type, being one of only two remaining examples of the Old Public Works Department truss, the first in a series of five timber truss designs utilised in road construction in NSW from the 1870s to 1936. Timber truss bridges were significant in the development of the NSW road network in part as a result of an 1861 parliamentary decree that local materials be used as much as practicable, thus keeping down the costs associated with importing costly elements such as iron. As NSW had an abundant supply of native hardwood trees well-suited for timber bridge construction, the timber truss became the dominant mode of road bridge construction. More timber truss road bridges were built in NSW than any other Australian state, and is the only state where examples of this type of bridge remain.

The Clarence Town Bridge is one of the most significant heritage bridges in the NSW road network and is listed on the NSW State Heritage Register. The bridge’s high level of heritage significance stems chiefly from its being of great historical and technical importance.

Clarence Town Bridge over the Williams River at Clarence Town

Whilst keeping timber truss bridges in operation as part of the NSW road network is a vital element in maintaining their significance, there are significant maintenance and operational challenges associated with the retention rather than replacement of these bridges. These include but are not limited to significant increases in traffic volume and vehicle masses since these bridges were built, and the increasing shortage of old-growth high quality hardwood timber needed to replace truss elements.

Claire has extensive experience in working with asset managers to develop solutions for heritage infrastructure that enable retention of heritage significance whilst also meeting to the increased demands associated with being part of a modern road network. Claire works closely in association with highly experienced bridge engineers and maintenance experts to develop tailored solutions for her clients. Contact us for more information.

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