The ideas that formed the timber truss bridges of New South Wales (NSW) came from many sources, mostly taking shape in the drawing offices of the Department of Public Works in Sydney. In the Australian colonies where the designers were public servants an administrative head signed plans, so a designer’s identity is not always obvious to today’s researchers. The search is not helped by an inadequate legal definition of design as ‘a scheme or plan conceived in the mind’.

As a former NSW chief bridge engineer explains, this

singles out the one who proposed the form of the bridge and doesn’t equate with any engineering definition. While the designer proposed the outline of a bridge, it was ‘the stress man’ who did all the calculations to make it work and sculpt it so it would work.1

Among the many engineers employed on bridge design during NSW’ timber truss bridge era — from the design of the first in 1854 to completion of the last in 1936 — five men stand out for the distinctive timber truss types they created for Australian conditions.

The five types were retrospectively classified for the practical purpose of bridge maintenance, with the fifth type not identified until 1987, in the DMR Timber Truss Bridge Manual. Since then a growing appreciation of these historic bridges has drawn the theory behind their typology out of the engineering classroom to become the basis of assessment of the heritage values of the timber truss bridges of NSW.

In focussing on the designers, this chapter advances that typology, firstly by naming all five truss types for their creators, William Bennett, John McDonald, Percy Allan, Ernest de Burgh, and Harvey Dare. Also, through the haze surrounding Australia’s very first timber truss bridges, William Weaver emerges as the engineer who introduced the timber truss bridge to NSW though both the bridges and their designer were unrecognised.

The biographical approach in this chapter fills in some fascinating facets of the lives of the designers to complement the intriguing details of their designs given in Chapter 2 ‘The development of the truss’.

In finding the designers – those who ‘conceived the plan’ and those who computed the figures that gave the bridge its working form — it helps to have a commencement date. For this purpose the date of a plan, or of the call for tenders from builders, is better evidence than the date of completion, which might refer to various events weeks, months and even years apart – the date work is finished, the date the bridge is in operation, or the date of its official opening. Wherever possible, the commencement dates are provided here and any ‘completion’ dates specified.

William Weaver

Figure 3.1

Figure 3.1: A contemporary drawing of William Weaver’s 1852 Victoria Bridge at East Maitland Source: Hardwick (1853)4

The story of timber truss bridges in Australia begins with engineer William Weaver, engaged for his bridge expertise by the NSW Colonial Architect’s Office in 1851. Then aged 23, Weaver had worked in the firm of Isambard Kingdom Brunel whose multiple British railways contracts made him an iron bridge engineering legend. Brunel was in business, and as his customers included the under- capitalised railway companies needing low-cost materials, his engineers also gained experience in designing timber bridges and viaducts. One of several Brunel engineers whose expertise was sought in the Australian colonies, Weaver arrived in 1850, the same year as BH Babbage, bound for South Australia where he built the Colony’s first railway. In NSW Weaver was in charge of bridge design for five years, including his term as Colonial Architect from 1854 to 1856.

Weaver’s first colonial work was the laminated arch Victoria Bridge, built over Wallis Creek at East Maitland in 1851-52 (see Figure 3.1). Colonial Architect Edmund Blacket was enmeshed in the problem of assessing the vigorously competitive local proposals for this bridge when he appointed Weaver. Weaver next designed its ‘sister’, the Hume Bridge built over the Yass River at Yass from November 1853-September 1854, then the Fitzroy Bridge over South Creek at Windsor and the Denison Bridge over the Macquarie River at Bathurst in 1855.2

Reportedly ‘built from his own designs’, these followed British railway timber bridge design, including Brunel’s only laminated arch bridge, built in 1840 to carry the Great Western Railway line over the Avon River at Bath, where Weaver had been assistant engineer in 1846. In applying this design in NSW Weaver sidestepped the ‘formidable undertaking’ of building stone bridges at sites like these, as well as avoiding labour- intensive construction.

Weaver’s plans, or at least his innovation, produced two more laminated arch bridges, over the Peel River at Tamworth and over the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga. Building of both began under Ben Hay Martindale and his assistant engineer William Bennett, and continued after the resignation of both men at the end of 1860. By the time these bridges were finished in 1862, Bennett had returned as the Colony’s new Roads Engineer.3

Figure 3.2

Figure 3.2: William Weaver’s 1856 Carcoar Bridge, with a brick-making works on the bank of the Belubula River in the foreground of this 1870s photograph. Source: ML, SLNSW

It was the unsung Weaver who brought the timber truss bridge to NSW with his Carcoar Bridge, built over the Belubula River from July 1855 – January 1856. Though new to the Australian colonies, as Chapter 2 ‘The development of the truss’ explains the truss form was old, a revival of Palladian bridge trusses that Weaver knew from Brunel, whose four classes of timber viaduct were based on these trusses. In 1855 the Sydney Morning Herald explained this innovation, where instead of laminated arches, trusses ‘framed on the principle of the ordinary ‘queen’s-post roof’’ provided a bridge 173 feet (52.7 m) in length with three 52 feet (15.9 m) spans and a deck 18 feet (5.5 m) wide.5

Weaver designed at least one other bridge with a timber truss, across Paddy’s River on the Great Southern Road, though no evidence is yet available that the bridge completed in 1855 followed the plan. Showing a timber trestle bridge with one queen post and one king bolt truss, this was dated 30 August 1854, when Weaver was still Clerk of Works, soon after he completed the Carcoar plan.6 It was an eventful year for Weaver. It included his visits to the Hume Bridge site at Yass and his marriage to Frances Broughton, daughter of a prominent local family there and as well, his appointment that October as Colonial Architect, succeeding Blacket.

Troubles in his office resulted in orders ‘for the cessation of all public works after the completion of the Bathurst and Carcoar bridges’ and Weaver resigned in March 1856.7 Then in his 30s, he had considerable success in private architectural and engineering practices in Sydney but in 1864, the year his fifth child was born, he left, alone, for an engineering post in New Zealand. An Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) from 1851, Weaver was elected a Member in 1868, just months before his early death ended a troubled personal and professional life.8

William Bennett: On The Road

Even before the 29-year-old Irish surveyor and engineer arrived in NSW, William Christopher Bennett’s career made for an epic tale including an eccentric uncle keen to make him heir to a Tudor castle and a mother who preferred her son surveying in the wilds of British Colombia rather than being shackled to a crumbling legacy. The young surveyor was part of the British attempt to find a route for a shipping canal across the Isthmus of Panama to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; his heroic initiative in the rescue of a US Navy crew there had Bennett featured in US Harper’s Magazine. NSW read about the young Irishman before he set foot on shore, with coverage of his heroism in The Times in London relayed in the Sydney Morning Herald in January 1855. Bennett was then in New Zealand seeking work, but witnessed instead the devastating earthquake that destroyed the 50-year-old town of Wellington.9

Leaving New Zealand for NSW, he found employment in Surveyor- General Sir Thomas Mitchell’s army of temporary staff. The following year Bennett assisted Edward Bell in planning Sydney’s sewerage system, and in 1857 surveyed the extension of the Colony’s first railway south to Campbelltown for Chief Engineer John Whitton.10

In June that year the Colony’s first Commissioner for Internal Communications, including railways, roads and bridges, and the electric telegraph, arrived. A British Army engineer, Ben Hay Martindale’s first report in 1857 made little of Mitchell’s extraordinary contribution, noting some 340 miles of existing roads with ‘scarcely a creek or river bridged’. He soon recruited Bennett, despatching him on an expedition to inspect the Great Southern Road that winter. Bennett’s thorough report included a warning on the new bridge at Marsden’s Crossing place over the Wollondilly River. His advice for folding rather than fixed railings as the plans had the deck of the bridge below flood level was unheeded and he ‘requested that I might not be held responsible for its success’. His asperity was justified when the bridge was swept away in floods in 1870.

By early 1858 Martindale had appointed Bennett assistant engineer in the roads and bridges section of Internal Communications, with his first task that summer to examine the Parramatta-Bathurst route of the main western road. Bennett recommended bridges for Junction Creek and Cox’s River, with his report on the condition of the road justifying the Bathurst Times’ description:

The road from Lapstone Hill to Victoria River was never in a worse condition than it is at present, and, unless substantial and costly repairs are at once commenced, there will be greater difficulty in crossing the mountains next winter than there was last year. It is absurd to suppose that any permanent good can be accomplished with the small amount of funds annually appropriated for the repair of the Western Roads… All that we can say is, something must be done, and that quickly.

That winter Bennett was in Bathurst again, superintending major repairs after severe flood- damage to Weaver’s Denison Bridge. In spring Martindale joined him in an inspection of the road over the Blue Mountains, when at least the approach road through Penrith gratified locals:

It cannot but be apparent to travellers that a vast improvement is being made on the Western Road by the filling up of holes, which process, together with the aid of the sun, has indeed had a wonderful effect in making our main thoroughfare at least passable again.11

When he set out on the western road with Martindale, Bennett had just returned from examining the whole of the main northern road, riding along the route from Morpeth to Black Creek, from there up to the Murrurundi Gap, and on to Armidale. Despite a serious accident when horse and rider fell on a steep decline, Martindale noted the intrepid Bennett was back at work the next day. Among deviations Bennett sought was one to the Armidale route through Salisbury Plain, recommending the more westerly route through Uralla ‘on account of the rising township and gold field there’.

Everywhere his party lodged, locals provided Bennett with ample evidence of the need for bridges. Reporting that the mail contractor was regularly unable to cross Sandy Creek north of Muswellbrook, he noted the site was perfect for a simple timber beam bridge as ‘there is not much driftwood, the bottom of creek is sandy, and ironbark is abundant’. More challenging was the ‘immediate need’ for a large bridge over the Pages River near the Murrurundi Gap, where not only the consignment of mail but all four coach horses had been swept away. He advised equal urgency in bridging the Peel River at the postal township of Tamworth, before the road ascended steeply to the tableland; and bridging the Macdonald River at Bendemeer on the tableland.12

Bennett’s advice extended from engineering to political economy. Like Martindale a firm advocate for letting work on contract, he stressed the need for successful tenderers to lodge securities to ensure their capacity. He grasped rural realities too, and was emphatic that contractors provide task work for capable day labourers so small selectors could

get the means of earning subsistence during the growth of their crops, and an opportunity of acquiring the necessary skill and capital to enable them ultimately to compete for contracts.

Though Bennett cited the success of the contract system in Ireland, in NSW it was more usually considered American, with the Maitland Mercury approving Martindale’s approach in 1858:

We have heard this contract system of maintaining roads in good order much praised, and its working in the United States alleged to be efficient and excellent… Perhaps some of the many intelligent Americans now living in the district will advise.13

But the most pressing problem was finding competent builders.

Martindale and Bennett worked closely together and were in accord on many key matters. The two men were the same age, though as an Army engineer recruited directly from London, Martindale’s had been a more direct and usual path into colonial public works. Everything was experimental, and uncertain, in these formative years of responsible government.

With the new Public Works role of Roads Engineer in place only two months, the Minister, John Robertson, was challenged in the Legislative Assembly by his predecessor with the argument that ‘the gentleman Bennett’ should also be charged with superintending the road surveyors on all three main routes.14 As well as Bennett’s overall responsibility for the routes, construction and maintenance of the main roads, from January 1859 Martindale’s reports state that ‘bridges were designed by the Engineer for Roads, Mr Bennett, CE’, with ten major bridges completed that year and 20 more underway. Of these seven were on the main northern road, three on the main western road, and ten on the main southern road.

The completed bridges comprised six on the main western road and four on the main southern road. Only two of these ten were timber truss bridges, over Cox’s River (see Figure 3.3a) and Junction Creek, but of the twenty large bridges under construction eight were timber trusses: at Falbrook (now Camberwell) and at the Pages River on the northern road; on the southern road at Berrima, Camden, and Jones Creek between Gundagai and Junee; on the western road at Ropes Creek between Parramatta and Penrith, and at Gosling Creek between Bathurst and Orange.

The eighth timber truss was at Albury on the Murray River, the Colony’s southern border. Two of the twenty in progress were the laminated arches being built over the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga and over the Peel River at Tamworth.15

Bennett described the Cox’s River Bridge as

a queen truss timber bridge on piers, with stone bases and wooden superstructure of two spans of 63 feet, and two of 20 feet each; the roadway is 12 feet wide and six feet above flood level; the total length is 170 feet [51.8 m].

Gosling Creek was based on a king truss, with all the others based on the queen truss. Bennett explained his design in Martindale’s final report in 1860:

For trussed bridges, the simple queen truss with iron suspension rods, in spans of from 50 to 90 feet [15 to 27 m], has been used, as giving the greatest headway and requiring least workmanship. When the headway had not been limited, a modification of this truss with radiating principals has been adopted, with the tie beam passing between the principals; it has been used in spans of from 60 to 100 feet [18 to 31 m], and the laminated arch has been applied in spans of the same dimensions, in some special cases where timber large enough for trusses could not be obtained.16

As Bennett had to train any assistant, he would have done his own calculations for the many bridge plans he drew up in 1859. The shortage of capable builders persisted for at least another decade and getting adequate tenders delayed construction at the Pages River, Albury, Camden, Berrima and Picton bridges, which were not completed until 1861. At Vacy Bridge over the Paterson River at Clark’s Crossing, the tender was let in May 1859 but work stopped when local contractor Stephen Stanbridge failed. The bridge was completed at the end of 1860, just before severe January floods caused major damage when the Paterson River rose nearly forty feet.17

Figure 3.3a

Figure 3.3a: The 1859 Cox’s River Bridge on the western road from Sydney to Bathurst, sketched on his travels by South Australian police inspector and artist George Hamilton. Source: ML, SLNSW

Timber Truss Design: The 1860s

Two of Bennett’s 1859 timber truss plans for bridges on the main northern road show his experimentation with the American truss design patented by William Howe in 1850, discussed in Chapter 2. After tenders were first called for the bridge at Falbrook (later Camberwell), between Singleton and Muswellbrook, Bennett altered the design to make the bridge longer and higher. While it looks similar to his Howe Truss plan for the Vacy bridge on the Paterson River (which seems not to have been built), at Falbrook there were distinct design elements that can be read as the step from the United States Howe Truss, towards the Australian Bennett Truss.18

The Falbrook Bridge made history not for its key design innovation, but as possibly the only colonial bridge damaged in a gunpowder plot. One night in September 1861, the longitudinal timbers were ‘severely injured’ when an unseen hand detonated gunpowder charges surreptitiously laid along the deck.

Though local press reports complained that the alignment approach required a sharp turn onto the ‘absurd narrow roadway’ of the bridge, at 12’ 9” (3.89 m) this roadway was wider, by just a body-width, than Bennett’s other contemporary bridges. If this were a Guy Fawkes-style protest it was equally ineffective, with the repaired bridge in service until 1894. But six years after the gunpowder protest, tragedy tested the allegations when a teamster was fatally injured, jammed between the framework of the bridge and his laden dray, as his horses continued to haul it across.19

Strategies for systematic roads development by Martindale and his Roads Engineer were constantly frustrated, both by the new methods of allocating funds and the government policy for roads to serve railways. At the end of 1860, Martindale concluded his final report by repeating his recommendations for ‘an entire change of the present system of expenditure’ before resigning on 20 November. Two weeks later, Bennett tendered his resignation too.20

On 14 January 1861 Bennett joined Mary and Ben Martindale and their three children aboard the La Hogue at Sydney’s Circular Quay. Government ministers joined officials, staff and friends gathered at the wharf in hearty cheers for the two men and for Mary Martindale. The farewell did not end there, as colleagues had hired the paddle-steamer Herald for the occasion and escorted the ship down the Harbour, crowding the decks in a rousing send-off.

When the La Hogue reached London at the end of April, both men had engagements. Martindale resumed his military engineering career in London, but Bennett’s engagement was to fellow passenger Agnes Hays, returning to her New York home. The Hays family had migrated there from London in the 1840s; a decade later three teenage sons had left home for the colonial goldfields and Agnes’ mother had despatched her daughter to NSW for firsthand news of her younger brothers.21

Bennett’s search for a secure professional post found him a few months later booking a passage back to NSW on the sailing ship Damascus, to become the Colony’s new Commissioner and Engineer for Roads and Bridges. His and Martindale’s former positions had been unsuccessfully diverted to their road superintendent William Collett and clerk of works Alexander Beazley, with Harbours and Rivers chief engineer EO Moriarty having to take over from Collett until Bennett arrived in March 1862. That November, Agnes Hays and Bennett were married, with a house at 320 Pitt Street Redfern their first home.22

In 1865, shortly before the birth of their third child, the Bennetts moved to 55 Shellcove Road Neutral Bay, to a house Bennett named ‘Honda’ in memory of the picturesque haven on the Magdalena River that had been his base in British Colombia a decade before. With a buggy ride to Blues Point, Bennett could commute to the Roads and Bridges Branch offices at 124-28 Phillip Street on the very same paddle- steamer Herald, then plying as a Harbour ferry.

Reporting in March 1865, Bennett pointed out the many ways roads policy had deviated from the priorities he and Martindale had set. Their strategy put bridging of rivers and creeks first, to reduce interruptions to mail and other traffic; then to improve the most difficult of the mountain roads and those in swampy areas; thirdly, to survey permanent lines of main roads and form and surface these and any ‘heavily trafficked’ areas near settlements to create a continuous road network, enabling economical and efficient maintenance.23

Figure 3.3b

Figure 3.3b: The laminated arch Bendemeer Bridge completed in 1865. Source: DJ Fraser

Bennett now added four roads of ‘colonial importance’ to the three ‘Great Roads’ enacted in 1858, seeking funds for routes from the Clarence River port of Grafton up to Glen Innes and Armidale on the northern tableland; in the west from Molong to Bourke; in the south from Wagga Wagga to Deniliquin and then to the border of South Australia; and from Batemans Bay on the south coast up to Braidwood. With these roads Bennett finished the foundation of the NSW highway system.24

Despite chronic deficiencies in resources, Bennett reported that by 1865 new bridges and improved roads on the western and southern roads meant ‘the mails have been able to travel at night on many roads… and that they can travel much faster on the greater portion of the road, and are not exposed to so many accidents’.

In this key report Bennett laid out the increasing transport demands, his technical solutions, and their limitations. His frustration was evident:

It is impossible to estimate the extent of the injury caused by the enormous weight carried on narrow wheeled vehicles, drawn by long strings of horses or bullocks, yoked up, half independent of the driver’s control, and following in the same track, making no attempt to avoid a soft place, until by tearing and dragging out, a small rut is enlarged into a dangerous bog.

With no engineering solution and legislation flaunted, Bennett urged the regulations finally introduced in 1870.

Seemingly ‘every improvement in the road [is] followed by a corresponding increase in the weights carried’. Loads had doubled since 1862, and from 1865 he increased the width of bridge roadways to 16 feet (5 m).25 It was a change that might have saved the life of the Falbrook drayman.

Figure 3.4a

Figure 3.4a: The McCallum Truss spans of the new Irving Bridge across the Richmond River at Casino in 1876. Source: WC Bennett Album

Bennett used the laminated arch design for the last time to bridge the Macdonald River at Bendemeer, one of the bridges he had recommended as urgent in 1858. Completed in 1865, this bridge carried traffic on the main northern road for forty years until it was replaced with a timber truss bridge (see Figure 3.3b and Figure 3.29).

Floods were the most savage enemy of bridges, especially without flood data. The 1852 record flood heights exceeded just ten years later, Bennett sought to raise the height of decking by increasing the length of bridge spans. He reported that:

from want of full experience of the capabilities of the indigenous timber applied to intricate framing, and from the very shrinkage and warping which occurs if not seasoned, spans exceeding 100 feet [30.5 m] have not been used; but a design for large spans, on the principle of the McCallum truss, so extensively used with the softer and lighter timber in the United States, has been under consideration for some time, and will be applied when opportunity offers.26

American railroad engineer Daniel McCallum had taken out patents for his fixed arch truss in the 1850s, when Americans flocking to the Australian goldfields increased colonists’ awareness of news and events in the United States.27 Bennett of course had the particular advantage of a wife and brothers-in-law raised in New York City, all abreast of news and events there. He also had a direct professional source, as his membership of the British Institute of Civil Engineers was approved in February 1864 and the current issue of the ICE Proceedings carried an article noting that in the United States ‘Timber-bridge building has become an especial branch of Engineering’, with McCallum’s ‘the most eminent’ of the specialist firms and his truss ‘now probably in more general use than any other bridge’.28

Figure 3.4b

Figure 3.4b: RM Ronald depicted a bullock team crossing the Irving Bridge in this painting, shortly before its replacement in 1908. Source: Frank Oakes, David Sciffer photo

Bennett took his opportunity to employ the McCallum Truss in 1866, in designing a bridge for a steep site across the Lachlan River at Cowra with three 130 feet (39.6 m) major spans. Work started in March 1867, but was delayed by the failure of the first contractor and then for completion of the Gundagai Bridge, so its builder could take over the Cowra works. Completed in January 1870, the Cowra Bridge was proclaimed the largest timber bridge in the Australian colonies. Set 48 feet (14.6 m) above the river’s summer level, it withstood autumn flooding that brought the river over the decking and piled ‘hundreds of tonnes’ of debris against the trusses and over the roadway and was hailed as a ‘noble piece of engineering skill and excellent workmanship’.29

But there were critics aplenty as flood records were set anew, as in the winter of 1870 when severe flooding damaged many bridges and a bitingly sarcastic open letter from an anonymous Goulburn identity was publicised. Bennett reported:

I am only directly responsible for the failure of one of these structures – the high-level bridge at Marsden’s Crossing, which was destroyed by the overwhelming and unprecedented flood of April 26th, which also… [removed] the platform of a 40 ft. span bridge off the piers… depositing it intact some chains downstream. Much of the damage was caused by the accumulation of timber against the bridges…30

Bennett had designed Goulburn’s Marsdens Crossing Bridge† over the Wollondilly River with a timber truss span of 90 feet (27.4 m) to put the deck three feet above the 1852 flood level, but in 1870 the river reached four feet (1.2 m) above the girders of the three-year-old bridge.31

By 1876, when Bennett’s second McCallum Truss bridge, across the Richmond River at Casino (see Figure 3.4a), was completed the McCallum timber trusses were no longer used in the United States, where iron was increasingly used in bridge building.32

Colonial Iron: The 1870s

Bennett’s 1871 defence of the flood performance of his bridges included the Colony’s first iron road bridge, the Prince Alfred Bridge at Gundagai:

I would point out that at Gundagai the bridge and approaches were built to clear the highest level given of the flood of 1853 – a foot higher than the disastrous flood of 1852 – and that the flood of April last was within 1 foot 6 inches [0.46 m] of that height at Gundagai.33

When Bennett drew up the Gundagai plans in 1863, the truss design patented in 1846 by British engineer James Warren was widely used in Britain and in the United States, where it continued as a common style for metal truss bridges into the 20th century.34

The structural wrought iron for the Gundagai bridge trusses was imported from England, but the cast iron elements were ordered from the Colony’s Fitzroy Ironworks, where in February 1865 the Governor and Lady Young attended the ceremonial first casting. This produced the first of 56 cylinders needed to make the four pairs of bridge piers, each comprised seven cylinders six feet long and six feet in diameter (1.8 m), weighing two tonnes. Slow production soon stalled the bridgeworks and by August only a third of the cylinders had been made. A new blast furnace installed in 1864 no doubt secured the government order for the pier cylinders, the Ironworks’ biggest job – it closed in 1866 with yields from smelting uneconomic. The order for the Colony’s first use of Australian iron for bridge piers was completed instead by PN Russell that year (see Figure 3.6). The sesquicentenary of Gundagai’s Prince Alfred Bridge highlights it as the State’s oldest metal truss bridge (see Figure 3.5).35

Figure 3.5

Figure 3.5: Prince Alfred Bridge over the Murrumbidgee River at Gundagai in 1867, with the notation ‘piers of Fitzroy (NSW) iron’. Source: WC Bennett Album

Figure 3.6

Figure 3.6: PN Russell’s Darling Harbour foundry yard c1866, with cast iron cylinders, probably for the Gundagai bridge. Source: University of Sydney Archives

The Sydney foundry of PN Russell won the contract for fabrication of the next iron road bridge, the replacement for Weaver’s 1855 laminated arch Denison Bridge at Bathurst that had been ‘carried away bodily one mile down the river’ in winter floods of 1867.

Figure 3.7

Figure 3.7: The Denison Bridge over the Macquarie River at Bathurst in 1870. Source: WC Bennett Album

Casting of the piers was underway by the end of that year, with Bennett’s office still determining their siting.

Bennett designed the piers and girders, while Gustavus Morell developed the drawings and the calculations for the superstructure under Bennett’s direction. A French architect-engineer, Morell had joined the Colonial Architect’s Office in 1863 when he was brought to NSW for his expertise on defence structures. Even before construction began, readers could anticipate the innovations, thanks to the Sydney Morning Herald’s explanation of the design with:

three spans of 110 feet [ 33.5m] each of triangular girder, on the newest principle, being an improvement on a truss known in the United States… in which the greatest care is taken to make the centre of stress of each member coincident with its centre of gravity. The roadway will be 22 feet wide with two external footways of 4 feet each, or a width of 35 feet [10.7 m] over all, the flooring joists to be of iron and. arranged so as to act as horizontal diagonal bracing.36

As well as the first use in the Colony of the Pratt Truss, Bennett’s girders were reportedly ‘of a construction new in Europe’ (see Figure 3.7).37

Bennett’s early experiments with iron are particularly interesting, given the limits of its availability and his tight budget. Iron bridges he designed with Gustavus Morell ranged from the swing bridge over the Murrumbidgee at Hay in the Riverina, to the bridge across the Orara River on Bennett’s new Newton Boyd road linking Grafton with the New England Tableland. For the Hay bridge, Morell designed a lattice girder span supporting timber decking, while the Orara River bridge trusses have the lattice variation of the Warren Truss. For this bridge Bennett designed single ‘windowed’ piers rather than paired piers, to minimise the piling of debris in floods. Cast as sets of cylinders at Mort’s Foundry in Sydney’s Balmain, these were ‘the heaviest work yet done in the colonies’. Both Bawdens Bridge over the Orara River (named for the local MLA) and the Hay Bridge were opened in 1874 (see Figures 3.8 & 3.9).

Figure 3.8

Figure 3.8: From a decorative arbour, Premier Henry Parkes declares the Hay Bridge open before a noonday crowd gathered on the central swing span, 29 August 1874. Source: Roads and Maritime, DMR photo

The talented Morell left Public Works for private practice in 1879, his many contributions to the State’s heritage including Sydney’s Her Majesty’s Theatre, Angel House, and the residence Swifts at Darling Point.38

Though the steadily increasing railway construction was a more significant demand, Bennett’s iron road bridge experiments assisted the brief first blossoming of the Colony’s iron industry:

Of the bridges constructed by the Public Works Department, the three lattice foot bridges were all manufactured in the colony; the cylinder-pieces of the Gundagai bridge were cast in the colony, chiefly from Australian iron from the Fitzroy Mines. The Bathurst bridge of three spans of 110 foot, on iron cylinder pieces, and the Yass bridge, one span of 180 feet [54.9 m], both made throughout in the colony. The iron-work of the Nymboy bridge, of three spans is being proceeded with at Newcastle; and the Urara bridge, of two spans of 125 feet each, at the Waterview Dock Works. A large part of the casting mid machinery for the Hay Bridge – of two swing spans of fifty-nine feet each, and two side spans of sixty feet [18.3 m] each, all lattice girders – was made at Messrs. PN Russell & Co’s.39

Figure 3.9

Figure 3.9: The 1874 Bawdens Bridge over the Orara River, with Morell’s latticed iron Warren trusses and Bennett’s design for flood-defence piers. Source: Ian Berger

But six years later even the busy Sydney firm of PN Russell had closed down, reputedly rather than accede to workers’ action for an 8-hour day. The firm’s principal, Peter Russell, became even better known as the chief founder of the Engineering Association of NSW in 1870, with William Bennett and Gustavus Morell among the founding members, and as the benefactor for the new school of engineering at the University of Sydney in 1882.40

With reduced civil service wages threatened in 1872, Premier Henry Parkes supported an increase for the hardworking Bennett, ‘one of the ablest officers in the government service’. Then in office for a decade, Bennett’s increased annual salary of £1000 was still less than Whitton’s.41 His team of bridge engineers also increased, with two assistant engineers by 1876, Frederick Wells and John Daniells, the latter designing iron lift bridges for the Murrumbidgee and Darling Rivers.42

Railway construction was always governments’ funding priority and iron railway bridges dominated the 1870s while Bennett, stretching his budget, developed engineers’ and builders’ expertise with timber truss bridges. In 1875 funds were finally approved for a timber truss bridge he had sought from 1868, over the Paterson River on the road from Paterson to Dungog. The plans were ready for tenders in spring 1876 and with Frederick Wells supervising, the new Gostwyck Bridge opened on 31 July 1878 (see Figure 3.10). Locals who complained that at sixteen feet (4.9 m) the deck was too narrow, were aggrieved at ‘our timber’ going instead to Tamworth. The girders needed for widening the 1862 laminated arch Peel River bridge were all cut from the abundant Ironbarks on Gostwyck Estate.43

Like many of their peers, Agnes and William Bennett aspired to finishing their children’s education at ‘home’, meaning England. With their eldest son 13 and eldest daughter 15, in February 1878 Agnes and the seven children sailed on the wool clipper Parramatta for the 3-month voyage to London. They were met by Ben and Mary Martindale whose practical help included finding schools and the three girls were first taught by the legendary Miss Beale at Cheltenham Ladies College. After Agnes Bennett set up house in Dulwich south of the Thames, the girls went to Carrie Darling’s nearby school. Remaining in Sydney, Bennett leased ‘Honda’ for the duration.44

Figure 3.10

Figure 3.10: One of the four Bennett Truss spans of the 1878 Gostwyck Bridge over the Paterson River at Paterson. Source: Courtesy Newcastle Region Library

Figure 3.11

Figure 3.11: The 1881 Gladesville Bridge from the southern (Drummoyne) shore, showing the swing span. Source: Kerry photo, ML, SLNSW

That September Bennett took on his first engineering cadet, Sydney- born and educated Percy Allan. With patronage still the prime factor in public service preferment, the 17-year-old had the advantage of his father’s position as deputy head of the Colonial Secretary’s department – Maxwell Rennie Allan’s 30-year career, following his own father’s civil service dating back to Governor Macquarie’s administration, had ended with his death in 1879.

Bennett’s Roads Branch had nearly 900 employees in June 1879, when young British-qualified engineer John McDonald was appointed in London to take charge of the wrought ironwork ordered for the lattice truss bridge at Gladesville over the Parramatta River. At 23, McDonald had studied civil engineering at King’s College London and then completed articles at the Greenwich ironworks of Appleby Bros., where he worked on the design and fabrication for the Gladesville order.

From his arrival in August 1879 McDonald was responsible for erection of the superstructure of the Gladesville Bridge, a more complex project than any other lattice truss bridge in the Colony. With its moveable swing span enabling tall vessels to pass underneath, the Gladesville Bridge was hailed as a signal achievement on completion in February 1881 (see Figure 3.11). McDonald was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers that year, his supporters including Bennett, Whitton, and WH Warren, as well as John Fowler in Britain.

That winter Bennett abruptly left work and sailed for England on 18 June 1881, four days after he received news of his wife’s sudden death from smallpox. He returned to Sydney with the children on 17 October, when they moved back into their home ‘Honda’ at Neutral Bay in Sydney. Eighteen months later Bennett remarried, and with Sarah Darling, the sister of his daughters’ teacher at Dulwich, had two more children.45

The Drawing Office: The 1880s

Figure 3.12

Figure 3.12: Percy Allan, 1872 -79 Source: ML, SLNSW

Figure 3.13

Figure 3.13: ‘McDonald’s Expansion Roller’, as installed on a pier of the Paterson River Bridge. Source: Australian Town & Country Journal 10 March 1888

His cadetship completed in 1882, Percy Allan was appointed an engineering draughtsman in the Roads and Bridges Drawing Office. Bennett’s Branch now included William Warren as assistant engineer as well as John Daniells. Daniells had produced vertical lift bridges over the Murrumbidgee River at Balranald, and the Darling River at Bourke. His resignation in 1884 to become Engineer for Bridges in Queensland meant McDonald took over completion of the Wilsons Creek bridge at Lismore and another opening bridge, over the Lansdowne River at Coopernook. All had sliding spans that were manually operated, with the Coopernook bridge requiring horse power.46

McDonald was entirely responsible for the design of all seventeen iron lattice truss road bridges completed between 1886 and 1893, including the lift bridges. His sophisticated standardised design, with span lengths ranging from 90 to 182 feet (27 to 55 m), helped maintain delivery and construction schedules. As with Gladesville, the primary truss components were all imported, with McDonald providing for expansion of the iron with ‘gun- metal plates sliding on cast plates’. In 1884 his applications to patent this ‘McDonald’s Expansion Roller’ were granted in four of the Australian colonies and in England, and a year later in the United States. McDonald was then working on plans for the three bridges where these rollers were first installed, the Paterson River Bridge opened on 24 February 1878 (see Figure 3.10), the Taemas Bridge over the Murrumbidgee River opened on 14 April 1888 and Dalgety Bridge opened on 2 May 1889.47

The McDonald Truss 1886-94

McDonald’s bridge expertise is everywhere displayed in his use of iron for beam, truss, and lattice, and in iron arches like the elegant Smollett Street Bridge over Bungambrawatha Creek in Albury, completed in 1888 and thus the oldest metal arch bridge in NSW – the next oldest being the 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge. His scientific approach is as evident in his timber bridges, his knowledge of Australian timbers gained with his former Roads and Bridges colleague William Warren, as discussed in the next Chapter. McDonald also devised the autographic strain recorder Warren used in his University of Sydney laboratory.48

The McDonald Truss was first used in 1886 to bridge the Cataract River at Broughton’s Pass. On masonry piers reaching deep into the ravine, the bridge was used in completing the scheme for Sydney’s water supply from the Nepean and Cordeaux rivers. Percy Allan was acting Engineer for Bridges for its completion, with McDonald on extended leave in England until autumn 1886, recuperating from severe illness.49

Figure 3.14

Figure 3.14: The 16-tonne design load of the McDonald Truss bridges was based on the British traction engines widely used in NSW from the 1880s, with fewer imports of the lighter and cheaper American-made machines like this one. Source: Kerry photo, Tyrell Collection, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences

Figure 3.15

Figure 3.15: The three central bowstring truss spans and four McDonald Truss spans of the Lachlan River Bridge at Cowra, completed in 1893. Source: SARANSW

Warren’s reports warmly acknowledged McDonald’s contributions to his work and at a meeting of the Royal Society of NSW, he also defended McDonald’s design for composite trusses for a new bridge at Cowra, with McDonald’s young colleague Harvey Dare among those questioning the calculations. Replacing Bennett’s 1870 McCallum Truss bridge with ‘entirely a new design by the department’, the McDonald Truss bridge over the Lachlan River had a span of 160 feet (49 m).50 (see Figure 3.15)

McDonald’s contribution to the discussion of Warren’s presentation to the Royal Society in 1886 provided a rare published example of his scientific reporting, with his explanation of how he calculated his ‘compound beam’ strength. With records of McDonald’s work so rare, his surviving calculation books are key evidence of his methodical analysis and appreciation of materials. These books also carefully record each experiment on the strength of Australian timbers, noting when and where the tests were performed, as well as the methods and results.

Figure 3.16

Figure 3.16: Ernest de Burgh c 1900 Source: ML, SLNSW

Figure 3.17

Figure 3.17: William Bennett, a portrait in his final years as Chief Engineer 1862-1889’ Source: Unknown

Young Irish engineer Ernest de Burgh emigrated to NSW to join the Department of Public Works in 1885, joining Bennett’s Roads and Bridges Branch in October 1886 to supervise construction of McDonald’s iron lattice truss bridge over the Murrumbidgee River at Taemas, on the road between Yass and Tumut. Despite their twenty-year age difference, as Bennett’s compatriot de Burgh soon formed a comfortable relationship with ‘the chief’, writing to him from the Taemas construction camp in March 1887 for advice on his plans to wed. Though Bennett took the point of the need for a permanent position and offered the post of road superintendent, de Burgh declined, writing

something may turn up in which I may be able to be of use with Government. Something that is in a hurry and needs a man to go at it in a dogged, determined sort of way. A nasty river to bridge, sewerage problem to be worked on… and if you still retain a good opinion of me and no man has a right before me why here I am.51

One year later de Burgh and his Irish fiancée Constance Yeo were married, with the ‘something’ that turned up another McDonald bridge to supervise. The newlyweds’ first home was the construction site at Dalgety on the Snowy River, with the bridge completed in 1893. As well as providing the means of marriage, a responsible position was essential to professional progress and in May 1893 de Burgh was made a Member of the ICE.

As Commissioner and Chief Engineer for Roads and Bridges, Bennett was also responsible for the eight men employed as his ‘Sewerage Branch’ from 1879 until 1886 when this expanded to form the substantial ‘Sewerage Department’, constructing works throughout the Colony, with the new Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board taking over Sydney works from 1888.52

Bennett readily attracted additional responsibilities, attributing this lifelong tendency to an ‘anxious and energetic’ disposition. None of his cohort, the founding heads of the other major sections of the Department of Public Works, appeared ready
to retire from their historic part in building the infrastructure of the Colony. Not even a serious heart attack in March 1889 kept Bennett from his work, but continued decline forced his resignation three months later, just before his 65th birthday. William Bennett died at ‘Honda’ on 29 September 1889 and on the day of his funeral all the Neutral Bay ferries flew their flags at half-mast. The following month, the news he and his 17-year-old daughter Agnes had been anxiously awaiting arrived, that she had won a government scholarship to the University of Sydney. In 1894 Agnes Bennett became the University’s first woman to graduate with Science Honours; and the second woman science graduate, following Frances Hill six years before.53

Bennett’s memorials were everywhere across NSW. His Branch had built almost 10, 000 miles of main roads with forty miles of bridges, including almost 150 Bennett Truss timber bridges, many then Australia’s largest bridges. Hailed as ‘a man of singular ability, prodigious energy, and untiring industry’, accolades appeared in country as well as city newspapers, honouring Bennett’s work over three decades. Tributes from his staff are specially moving, like young road superintendent Robert Jones’ heartfelt:

I cannot finish this report without mentioning my feelings of deep regret at the death of our Good Old Chief, Mr Bennett. A giant’s labour is ended, and we can now only mourn the loss of one who ever tried to be just and kind to his officers and who gave almost superhuman labour to his Country.54

Bennett had headed an establishment of 168 officers and now three positions replaced his, the new chief engineers Robert Hickson for roads, John McDonald for bridges, and from 1893 Percy Scarr for a separate Sewerage Construction Branch.

As the new chief McDonald continued to explore metal construction, designing two steel beam bridges for Sydney sites, Unwin Bridge at Tempe and a’Becketts Creek Bridge at Parramatta. Completed in 1891, they are routine in form, but mark a very early use of steel in NSW with the first local steelworks not established for another twenty years.

The Drawing Office: The 1890s

Figure 3.18

Figure 3.18: John McDonald, chief engineer for bridges 1889-1893. Source: Tairawhiti Museum, New Zealand’

McDonald’s succession also meant a promotion for Percy Allan, who became Chief Draftsman in 1889, heading an office of some twenty draftsmen including new recruit Harvey Dare, with another of Warren’s early engineering graduates, JJC Bradfield, appointed in January 1891. Despite the Depression the roads and bridges establishment increased, with the three bridge engineers under Bennett expanded to nineteen under McDonald. In 1891 the 51 road superintendents were renamed ‘resident engineers’ and a ‘Bridge Modeller’ and ‘Bridge Computer’ appointed. The latter was a promotion for Harvey Dare, with his time entirely devoted to calculations for bridge design.55

De Burgh too was promoted, joining head office as supervising bridge engineer in 1891. With tenders to be called for a bridge over the Lane Cove River in April 1891, on a very cold day that month de Burgh despatched Dare and Bradfield to the site for survey checks. Bradfield lost their toss for the task of swimming a rope across the icy river and for the rest of their lifelong friendship never failed to remind Dare.56

Like de Burgh the previous year, Allan was now able to take a professional step forward with McDonald nominating him to the ICE, and a personal one, marriage to his fiancée Alice Trangmar in November 1890. These were not auspicious times for newlyweds, with the onset of economic depression affecting lives both public and private. In the first year of the de Burghs’ marriage all civil service salaries were cut by 10% and a retrenchment program put in place. The couple were a fortunate exception, with a legacy to Constance de Burgh enabling them to build a grander house next to their cottage at 72 Station Street Meadowbank, moving in with their three children during 1893 (see Figure 3.21). With his position secure, Harvey Dare and his fiancée Constance Tindale married in October 1895, at her hometown of Rylstone, on the Cudgegong River.

McDonald continued to improve the design of lift bridges. Balranald Bridge remained the Colony’s prototype, although John Daniells’ dismissal by the Queensland Government that year suggests his legacy was no longer acknowledged. In any case, McDonald, Allan, and de Burgh were all introducing significant improvements to lift bridges. With those completed over the Murray River at Mulwala and over the Darling River at Wentworth in 1893, operating the lifting mechanism became a one-man job.57

McDonald’s development of moveable span bridges included four bascule bridges designed between 1891 and 1893, operating like a castle drawbridge (see Figure 3.19). These proved to have limited durability due to shrinkage and warping of the timber used for the bascule tower.

For the Wilcannia Bridge over the Darling River completed in 1896 (see Figure 3.20), McDonald provided a further refinement, hanging the counterweights on the outside of the towers for ease of maintenance.58

De Burgh’s first-hand experience as supervising engineer for McDonald’s Darling River lift bridges at Wilcannia and Wentworth prompted his own improvements.59

In the Drawing Office Harvey Dare was absorbed in calculations for these refinements. For the bridge at Telegraph Point on the north coast completed in 1902, Dare followed a method used in the United States to model the curved track on which the counterweight to the moving span travelled. Named for its 18th century originator, mathematician and engineer Bernard de Bélidor, this curve is part of a ‘cardioid’, the heart shape in mathematics. Dare’s calculation books show how he used the cardioid for a mechanism that halved the lift time for the bascule bridge at Darlington Point.60

Figure 3.19

Figure 3.19: McDonald’s 1892 Sheas Creek Sydney bascule tower ‘drawbridge’. Source: DJ Fraser

Figure 3.20

Figure 3.20: The vertical lift mechanism of Wilcannia Bridge. Source: Roads and Maritime

Among the casualties of the drastic decrease in imports of iron components from 1891 were plans McDonald had already prepared to a high level of detail, for a 147 feet (44.8 m) iron arch bridge for Sydney’s Lane Cove River costing £10,000 and an even grander 180 feet (54.9 m) iron arch to bridge Stonequarry Creek at Picton. Both sites were bridged much later with timber trusses, as was the Murrumbidgee River at Wagga Wagga, for which McDonald had proposed a design using light iron girders.

McDonald designed in iron wherever he could and it was Percy Allan who succeeded Bennett as the advocate of timber. Allan’s expertise in timber bridge design might have saved him and his team in the Drafting Office, with economy an inflexible regime in the early 1890s.

By the time the economy began to ease in 1894, 246 staff had been retrenched from the Department of Public Works, with no major reduction in the Roads and Bridges establishment, the main field for unemployment relief works.61 But among those retrenched was the Branch’s chief bridge engineer, John McDonald, despite his seniority, the ample proof of his ability and that at 37, he was just approaching the prime of his working life. The only light on this decision is Harvey Dare’s recollection of his chief:

He was an able man, and always good to me, but he had a sardonic trait in his character, which brought him into conflict with some of the other Departmental Heads, who in the end were too strong for him…62

Figure 3.21

Figure 3.21: Ernest and Constance de Burgh with two of their three children in the grounds of their house ‘Uplands’ in December 1904. Source: Ryde Library, Sydney

McDonald had crossed the world to begin his engineering career in NSW and his retrenchment seemed to reopen professional possibilities. A member of the American Society of Civil Engineering since 1886, he spent six months in the United States in 1894 promoting his patented expansion roller, winning several exhibition awards. Fremantle was his next base when he took a post with the Western Australian Public Works Department in 1895, resigning from the position in October 1898. By 1902 he was in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) working as a mine surveyor, and from 1903 was deputy town engineer in Johannesburg. The poor health of his wife Marion, his ‘beloved friend and companion’ brought the couple back to Perth in 1907, with McDonald soon engaged on the State’s water conservation works. In 1912 they moved to New Zealand, where he spent five years as engineer and secretary to the Gisborne Harbour Board. After Marion’s death in February 1917, at 65 McDonald’s own ill-health and perhaps also his fractious disposition led to his dismissal. His skill and experience gained him a position as engineer for the local Gisborne Council and in 1919 he remarried, continuing to work for the Council as consulting engineer into his 70s. It was the talented and unsung engineer’s last post; in deteriorating health he took his own life on 4 June 1930.63

The Allan Truss 1894-1929

From Harvey Dare’s second year in the Drawing Office, Allan had him working on a new timber truss bridge design. The new Allan Truss was designed with the advantages of accumulated data from Warren’s timber analyses and more than 35 years of empirical experience with timber truss bridge technology.

The following year eight of the new Allan Truss bridges were opened. The first, on 27 July 1894, linked the goldmining township of Yalwal on Yarramunmun Creek to Sassafras, on the ‘Wool Road’ down to Nowra. Just three days later, the official opening of the Stoney Creek Bridge on the south coast road between Bodalla and Bega was celebrated, and on 13 August the opening of Glennies Creek Bridge at Camberwell in the Hunter Valley (see Figure 3.22). This bridge replaced the deteriorated 1861 Falbrook Bridge. The new design enabled lighter construction in hardwood or composite steel and timber, using shorter lengths of timber which were much easier to obtain and manoeuvre. The new trusses were in standard lengths of 70, 90 and 110 feet (21, 27 and 33.5 m), so that from 1895 prepared timber was ordered by tender and stocked.64

Bennett could only have dreamt of the size of Allan’s Drawing Office in the three years from 1893, with its prodigious output of plans for some 349 bridges and punt crossings.65 Allan was Australian timber’s champion, and his own as well. A prolific writer in professional journals and an engaging speaker at meetings, as the PWD’s new assistant engineer for bridges he told a Royal Society of NSW assembly in 1895:

Like all engineers, the author would prefer (if economy had not to be considered) to construct metal bridges, but in a new Colony where the trend of the traffic is likely to be diverted by many circumstances, difficult, if not impossible, to anticipate, it would seem preferable in such localities to construct timber structures with a small capital outlay, rather than spend large sums on works of a more permanent character. It may be urged in these days of cheap steel, that it is against the practice of other parts of the world to construct timber bridges, but in what other country could be found timber with a tensile strength of 8 tons per square inch, a crushing strength of 4 3⁄4 tons per square inch?66

Figure 3.22

Figure 3.22: The new Allan Truss bridge at Camberwell in 1894 that replaced the 1860 Falbrook Bridge. Source: ML, SLNSW

Figure 3.23

Figure 3.23: The opening of the Allan Truss bridge over the Macleay River at Kempsey in April 1900. Source: ML, SLNSW

Allan’s evidence for timber included the 1861 Bennett Truss bridge across the Murray River at Albury, in service for 37 years before needing the replacement Allan designed. Allan also used this overhead-braced design for the Wagga Wagga Bridge completed in 1895 and compared the cost with a wrought iron truss bridge of the type McDonald had favoured. He was undeterred when his audience questioned his costings based on expensive local iron, nor by timber’s higher maintenance costs. Allan repeated this defence of his costings in a paper published by the ICE in 1897, but his advocacy of timber had its best evidence in the performance of bridges like one on the drawing board that year, for Kempsey. Completed in 1900, the bridge was in operation for sixty years (see Figure 3.23).67

Figure 3.24a

Figure 3.24a: The Arch Bridge at Jenolan Caves. Source; Roads and Maritime

As supervising engineer for a decade from 1891, de Burgh’s responsibilities included coordinating the resident engineers and liaison with local communities. He oversaw construction of some eleven major bridges, from the Murray River in the south to the Tweed River in the north, and from the coastal rivers west to the Darling River. This role also associated de Burgh with several singular bridges, like the 1896 limestone arch bridge at the entrance to Jenolan Caves’ Grand Arch that became known locally as ‘de Burgh’s Limestone Bridge’ (see Figure 3.24).

He was involved in planning two substantial suspension bridges, the 1898 Hampden Bridge on the descent from the southern tableland through Kangaroo Valley and the 1903 Maldon suspension bridge over the Nepean River at Picton. The American Pratt trusses stiffening the Hampden Bridge’s 252 feet (7.68 m) span make this a notable precursor to de Burgh’s free-standing timber truss bridges. In contrast, Gothic masonry towers supporting the metal suspension cables make the Hampden Bridge a singular landmark in the Kangaroo Valley.68

Directed by its site, the design of Maldon Bridge (see Figure 3.25) included steel Warren trusses and

a stiffened suspension structure of an uncommon type, in as much as the main cables after leaving the towers are carried upwards to an anchorage in the sandstone cliff above the bridge instead of downwards as is usually the case.69

Figure 3.24b

Figure 3.24b: The Arch Bridge at Jenolan Caves, built in 1896, with the plan among those signed by de Burgh as supervising engineer. Source: Roads and Maritime

Figure 3.25

Figure 3.25: After bushfire damage in 1939, one of Maldon Bridge’s two downstream timber towers, shown here in 1903, was replaced with steel. Source: Town and Country Journal, 18 March 1903, p.26

From 1896 when Allan was made chief engineer for bridge design, he continued to benefit immensely from the Branch’s talented Drawing Office, then including three of the first University of Sydney engineering graduates, Harvey Dare, Jack Bradfield and JW Roberts. Their nickname for their chief was ‘Screamer’, as Bradfield many years later told one of his own young design engineers on the Sydney Harbour Bridge team. It is an insight not available in Allan’s own ample record of his achievements.70 His signature on the Drawing Office’s harvest of 583 plans for his four years as chief engineer for bridge design indicates Allan’s role was more often in conception, than calculation. This debt received general rather than generous acknowledgment. With all eyes on the future of road bridge construction under the new Main Roads Act 1924, Allan’s summary history noted [the author] wishes to make clear how much – so far as his own works are concerned – he is indebted to the officers who made the calculations and the mechanical engineering draftsmen who, in a number of cases, originated the more important details on which the success of the designs has been so largely dependent.71

Sydney’s new Pyrmont and Glebe Island bridges made clear the collaborative nature of engineering design. With the 1858 and 1862 swing bridges over Darling Harbour and Blackwattle Bay needing urgent replacement, Parliament voted funds in 1898. To accelerate the plans, the drawing offices of all three PWD engineering branches were amalgamated under the direction of Allan. Harvey Dare was in charge of the army of engineering draftsmen working non-stop to produce the plans for both bridges within nine months. Allan did the calculations and design details for the swing spans (see Figure 3.26), Gordon Edgell designed the swing mechanisms, and Bradfield apparently designed the sandstone abutment walls at Pyrmont.72

Figure 3.26

Figure 3.26: Percy Allan (rear) with workmen bailing out water inside the caisson for the swing span of the Pyrmont Bridge, sunk to sixty feet (18 m) below the high water mark. Source: SARANSW

Figure 3.27

Figure 3.27: Not even Percy Allan could outdo the Minister for top billing, as this plaque marking the foundation ceremony at Pyrmont Bridge shows. Source: Michael Clarke

In 1900 Allan was transferred to the PWD’s Harbours and Rivers Branch to oversee construction of the bridges, during which he was made a Member of the ICE. Innovations included Pyrmont Bridge’s electrically-driven moveable span, the electricity supplied from the new Ultimo Powerhouse nearby. Opening the Pyrmont Bridge on 28 June 1902, State Governor Sir Henry Rawson observed it outdid London’s Tower Bridge, with a larger deck area and an opening time of 38 seconds compared with 52 seconds.73

Figure 3.28

Figure 3.28: The first de Burgh Truss bridge, the 1900 Queens Bridge at Queanbeyan, with three 91 feet (27.7 m.) composite truss spans and concrete piers and abutments. Source: Roads and Maritime, DMR photo

The de Burgh Truss 1900-1905

In March 1901 de Burgh was promoted to chief bridge engineer and as soon as the drafting tables were cleared of the Pyrmont and Glebe Island bridge work, he had Bradfield and Dare developing an improved timber truss. Drawing on the Pratt Truss, the new design followed McDonald’s use of a metal bottom chord, as well as incorporating features of the Allan Truss such as pairing timber members for ease of maintenance. The Queens Bridge over the Queanbeyan River, opened in March 1900, was the first of the new design now known as the de Burgh Truss (see Figure 3.28).74

Bradfield took up the design challenge with four record- breaking 153 feet (46.6 m.) trusses for the bridge over the Macleay River at Kempsey, even taking his theodolite to local stands of ironbark to confirm supply of the great lengths needed. But Dare outstripped him, with a single Pratt Truss span of 165 feet (50.3 m.) for the bridge over Sydney’s Lane Cove River. This cost a third of McDonald’s 1891 iron arch design, and gave Bradfield renewed opportunity for jokes about his lost bet with Dare.

Bradfield used an Allan Truss for the Kempsey Bridge, but the Lane Cove River bridge like the Queens Bridge, was a de Burgh Truss. The Kempsey Bridge, built of local ironbark and tallowwood, opened in April 1900 as the largest timber truss with a timber bottom chord in the Colony (see Figure 3.23 ), until February 1901 when the Lane Cove bridge was officially opened as the de Burgh Bridge, both the largest timber truss bridge and the first in the new State.75

In the recollection of the modest and unassuming Dare, he had designed the de Burgh Truss, and was indebted to de Burgh for assistance and advice.76 The first two de Burgh Truss bridges featured sloping end members, revised to verticals on the other eighteen of these bridges built. While it is difficult to identify de Burgh’s specific role in the creative output of his Drawing Office, like McDonald his inventive talents are evident elsewhere. An example is the method he devised in 1899 of using Monier concrete to protect submerged timber piles against teredo, the ‘termite of the sea’. The Monier casing was first used for the Cockle Creek Bridge south of Newcastle, completed in 1901. A successful substitution at about half the cost of cast iron, full Monier concrete piers were used at de Burgh’s 1904 Middle Falbrook bridge over Glennies Creek. For the 1902 Lansdowne Bridge at Goulburn, only the submerged portions of the piers were constructed from Monier concrete pipes, with the upper portions constructed as traditional timber piers.77 De Burgh won the first of his Telford Premiums for this technology, with the other in 1904 for his work on suspension bridge cabling.78

De Burgh’s transfer to LAB Wade’s Water Supply and Sewerage Branch in August 1903 and promotion to Chief Engineer for the new Branch of Harbours and Water Supply in 1908 involved him in construction of the Burrinjuck Dam for the State’s first major irrigation project. The reservoir built in 1908 for the construction railway, named Lake de Burgh, was Australia’s first reinforced-concrete thin arch dam. Burrinjuck Dam, completed twenty years later, was also designed by de Burgh.79

As chief engineer for water supply with the NSW Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission from its establishment in 1913 until his retirement in 1926, de Burgh was responsible for the design of the Chichester scheme for Newcastle and the Umberumberka scheme for Broken Hill. His many reports to the State government included his observations on hydro-electric schemes in 1919 and his comprehensive 1918 report on augmentation of Sydney’s water supply. Forecasting the population increase of Sydney and surrounding districts, he recommended accelerating construction of the Cordeaux Dam, with additional storage reservoirs on the Avon, Nepean and Warragamba rivers.

Their children grown, Ernest and Constance de Burgh had moved in 1913 to ‘Harlowen’, in Hopetoun Avenue in Sydney’s harbourside Vaucluse. A keen gardener, Constance created new gardens there, with her husband away no less often in his new position as the State’s chief engineer for water supply. De Burgh had also been responsible for investigating water sources for the nine sites proposed for the Federal capital city, with water supply the key to determining the borders finally enacted for the Federal Capital Territory in 1911.80 At the end of his long Public Works career, in 1921-25 de Burgh was a member of the Federal Capital Advisory Committee and involved in planning the water supply for the national capital. Despite his illness, his ‘unusual strength of personality’ came to the fore, with Committee secretary Charles Daley recalling de Burgh as ‘a most convincing exponent of his point of view, and a ruthless and logical examiner of every question before him’. De Burgh always retained the engaging charm evident in his first correspondence with Bennett. Daley observed that though

often a drastic critic in expression, at the same time he possessed that characteristic Irish wit and humour that removed the sting but left the logic. He was adept at dealing with politicians, and it was a delight to hear him giving advice, in a racy manner, to the ministers and many members of Parliament…81

Constance de Burgh enjoyed their many Canberra visits too, with keen interest in the growing garden city and the work of Charles Weston’s Yarralumla Nursery.

Allan’s Public Works career was also diverted into water supply and conservation. After completion of the Pyrmont and Glebe Island bridges in 1903, he was in England and France on a study tour of dam construction, returning to work on the design and construction of the Cataract Dam. From 1908 Alice and Percy Allan and their young sons lived in Newcastle, where Allan became the district’s first Chief Engineer for Public Works in 1911.82 After his leave on medical grounds in 1912, Director-General of Public Works Joseph Davis appointed Allan his assistant and the family moved into ‘Kerela’, their new house in Hunters Hill Sydney.

In 1917, Allan succeeded Robert Jones as Chief Engineer for National and Local Government Works, a role that brought him back to bridge-building. In 1923 he went to Melbourne to plan two new bridges across the Murray at Abbotsford and Gonn Crossing, at the joint expense of NSW and Victoria. From 1924 Allan had overall design responsibility for the Tom Ugly’s Bridge over the Georges River in Sydney, supervising construction until his retirement in March 1926.83

Figure 3.29

Figure 3.29: The first Dare Truss bridge, the 1905 Bendemeer Bridge over the Macdonald River replaced the 1865 laminated arch bridge. The new bridge was in service for 80 years and remains today as a footbridge. Source: Roads and Maritime

The Dare Truss 1905-36

With Allan no longer involved in timber bridge design from 1900, Harvey Dare headed a reduced Drawing Office of thirteen. Under de Burgh as chief bridge engineer for the next three years, first Dare and then Bradfield were designated ‘bridge computers’, developing the de Burgh Truss. The pair had the additional work of assessing international tenders for the proposed bridge over Sydney Harbour, until August 1902 when Dare had to take extended medical leave and Bradfield was in charge until February 1903. Back at work when de Burgh was transferred to Water Supply in August 1903, Dare then took charge of road bridge design.84

With plans for a bridge over the Macdonald River at Bendemeer on the drawing board, Dare was working on his own new truss design based not on the de Burgh Truss, but the Allan Truss. Aiming for simplicity and economy, Dare’s refinements included a metal Figure 3.29: The first Dare Truss bridge, the 1905 Bendemeer Bridge over the Macdonald River replaced the 1865 laminated arch bridge. The new bridge was in service for 80 years and remains today as a footbridge. Source: Roads and Maritime channel for the bottom chord and square truss panels, rather than Allan’s rectangular panels, to make the carpenters’ work easier. Dare explained the benefits of the truss design to the ICE in 1903:

The composite truss represents an economical and durable type of structure, erected without difficulty and easily renewed, since the bottom chord is of a permanent nature and the timber members, which required renewal at intervals of about 30 years, are all in compression, and can be easily replaced.”85

These were very difficult years for Dare, with overwork, illness, and then in 1904 the death of 32-year- old Constance Dare, leaving him to raise their six-year-old daughter Marion Constance. At the same time his work responsibilities multiplied when retrenchment of 469 PWD staff led to amalgamation of all four PWD engineering drawing offices in 1904, with Dare in charge.

Opened on 29 September 1905, the Bendemeer Bridge (see Figure 3.29) replaced Bennett’s 1865 laminated arch bridge and was the first of more than forty Dare Truss bridges built over the next thirty years. By 1905 there were 3, 831 PWD bridges in NSW, a census taken when the Local Government Act 1906 provided for local councils to take over management and maintenance of roads and bridges. The exceptions were 256 major bridges classified ‘national works’, the responsibility of a new Local Government Branch of the PWD under Robert Jones as chief engineer.

The first dozen Dare Truss bridges were built while Dare was head of the amalgamated PWD Engineering Drawing Office. With ironwork inspection added to his duties, in 1908 he supervised conversion of Penrith’s Victoria Bridge from a railway to a road bridge. Dare’s ‘cardioid’ lift mechanism was used for eight bascule bridges in NSW. Thirty years later, Dare wrote wryly that he had ‘worked like a galley slave’ in his six years in charge of both road bridge design and the Departmental drawing office. But he still regularly presented his work to the profession, from the newest students at the University of Sydney Engineering Society to the most senior members of the Institution of Civil Engineers in Britain.86

Figure 3.30

Figure 3.30: The 1936 Minneys Creek Bridge in 2003; the last Dare Truss bridge built, it was replaced in 2016. Source: Ian Berger

Then in 1910, Dare followed both Allan and de Burgh with a transfer to water supply under LAB Wade. He worked on planning the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Scheme and the Upper Nepean scheme for Sydney’s water supply with three dams, the Cordeaux, Avon and Nepean. Dare was Chief Engineer for the State’s new Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission in 1913, and then Commissioner from 1916.

Dare’s role in establishing the Coomealla Irrigation Area near Mildura, a soldier-settlement scheme, was honoured in 1922 when its town was named ‘Dareton’. Dare represented NSW on the River Murray Commission in 1923, oversaw the completion of Burrinjuck Dam and was heavily involved in the development of Wyangala Dam.87

By 1925 when the new Main Roads Board (MRB) took over responsibility for main roads and highway bridges throughout the State, there were another 37 timber truss bridges, all either Dare or Allan Truss. In the next ten years MRB engineers constructed sixteen Allan Truss bridges and eighteen Dare Truss bridges, the last completed in 1936 over Minneys Creek at Tabulam in northern NSW (see Figure 3.30). From the 1920s, Newcastle Steelworks was supplying steel for the steel trusses in use for all major bridges over 100 feet (30 m.) and from the 1930s bridge designers were also working with the new reinforced concrete.

Ernest de Burgh retired in 1927; diagnosed with tuberculosis, he was confined to his Vaucluse home where he died on 4 April 1929. In just over a year, three of NSW’ pioneering timber truss bridge designers were dead. Aged 68, Percy Allan died after a heart attack at his home ‘Carnarvon’ in Sydney’s Darlinghurst on 7 May 1930, and in New Zealand a month later, John McDonald took his own life.

The youngest of the designers, Dare retired from the State’s Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission in May 1935 (see Figure 3.31), when the last timber truss bridge was being built in NSW. The only one of the five designers to enjoy years of retirement, Harvey Dare died at his Roseville home on 20 August 1949, aged 82.

Figure 3.31

Figure 3.31: Henry Harvey Dare c1935. Source: Water Resources Commission

Designers And Stress Men

The Dare Truss was the last step in the design process for timber truss bridges in NSW begun by William Weaver in 1854. Without other trained engineers to assist them, Weaver and Bennett created the form of their bridges and as well, calculated the functioning strength of every part. It is unclear when Bennett first had professional assistance, but for a decade from 1869 he partnered with the Colonial Architect’s Office’s Gustavus Morell on the design of iron bridges. Percy Allan was Bennett’s first cadet when he joined the Bridges Section in 1878 and he certainly became Bennett’s most prominent trainee. From 1876 Bennett had two assistant engineers and in 1881 qualified engineer William Warren joined the Branch, but left the following year to found the Engineering School at the University of Sydney.

In 1879 the appointment of John McDonald gave Bennett a talented design engineer for metal bridges and for moveable span bridges, with McDonald soon applying his ingenuity to timber truss design. Like Bennett, McDonald was expert at calculating stress and innovative in responding to problems.

By his retirement in 1889, Bennett’s Roads and Bridges Branch Drawing Office was an incubator for design engineers and a hothouse of calculation. Throughout the 1890s, some of the ‘stress men’, the engineers responsible for the calculations for each specific site, can be identified in the hive of productivity that was the Drawing Office. There was even a name for the position, with Dare, his friend Jack Bradfield and other new engineering graduates like JW Roberts among those designated ‘Bridge Computer’.

Dare’s account of his part in the creation of both the Allan Truss and the de Burgh Truss shows the key contribution of the diligent ‘stress man’. Bridge design is conceived not only as an idea, but as a form that must function.

Unlike Bennett, Allan and Dare were not involved when most of the bridges recognised as theirs were constructed. Percy Allan had left the Branch by 1900 and most of the Allan Truss bridges were built between then and 1929. However, his signature appears on various of these plans and , as Ian Jack reveals in Chapter 5 ‘People, places and bridges’, the year before his retirement Allan was entertainingly prominent at the opening of the Allan Truss Tooleybuc Bridge in 1925. Similarly, Dare’s transfer from Bridges in 1910 meant he was not involved with any of the Dare Truss bridges built over the next 26 years. His standard designs for 70’, 91’ and 104’ trusses could be used in different locations, needing only site-specific calculations like deck height and the design of piers and abutments. Adaptability was part of the design creativity of the Allan Truss and the Dare Truss, enabling each to be applied at a wide variety of sites, over some thirty years.

Design creativity is the elegant mystery at the heart of the stories of the design engineers sketched in this chapter, not least because the identities of their co-designers are unknown. The search for the ‘stress men’ responsible for the timber truss bridges of NSW is ongoing, like the design process itself.


  • * Research notes provided by Ian Berger & Don Fraser were a useful basis for this chapter
  1. Interview with Brian Pearson, Sydney 6 June 2017; Brian Pearson (2007), ‘Timber truss bridges in New South Wales’, address to the Australian Society for the History of Engineering and Technology (ASHET), 31 July
  2. Maitland Mercury March-June 1847 & 25 May 1850; David Sciffer, The Bridging of Wallis’ Creek 1827-1896 author publ., nd, pp. 6-7; Sydney Morning Herald 6 January & 31 December 1855
  3. Peter Reynolds (1972),’The Evolution of the Government Architect’s Branch 1788-1911’, PhD thesis, University of New South Wales; RA Buchanan (2002), Brunel: the life and times of Isambard Kingdom Brunel London, Hambledon & London, pp.98-101; Alfred Pugsley (1976), The Works of Isambard Kingdom Brunel Cambridge University Press, pp.120-23; Sydney Morning Herald 26 May 1856; Obituary William Weaver in Min. & Proc. ICE, 31, Jan 1871, pp. 233–36; Roslyn Maguire pers. comm. 2017
  4. John Hardwick (1853), Views in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania Plate 28; for the accuracy of this illustration compared with the more familiar drawing by Frederick Terry, see Sciffer, pp.16-19
  5. Sydney Morning Herald 24 July & 31 December 1855; Colin Maggs (2016), Isambard Kingdom Brunel, London, Amberley Publishing; Brian Lewis (2007), Brunel’s Timber Bridges and Viaducts, London, Ian Allen
  6. Sydney Morning Herald January 1855; Amie Nicholas (2015), ‘Guide to the design and assessment of NSW timber bridges’, draft report for Roads and Maritime, March, p.17
  7. Sydney Morning Herald 4 December 1855
  8. Aged 46, William Weaver died alone in a hotel room in Geelong, Victoria on 18 December 1868, an inquest suggesting an addiction to the popular remedy laudanum (a tincture of opium and alcohol) had led to a stroke, Ballarat Star 22 December 1868. Other information from the Illustrated Sydney News 3 December 1853; Sydney Morning Herald 26 April 1854 & 31 December 1855; and Roslyn Maguire (1984), ‘Introducing William Weaver, architect and engineer’, Heritage Australia 3, 1, pp. 46-48;
  9. The Times 6 October 1854; Sydney Morning Herald 2 January 1855
  10. Blue Book 1862, p.293, in NSWLA V. & Proc.1863-64, Sydney, Government Printer, 1864
  11. Sydney Morning Herald 20 March & 29 October 1858
  12. Sydney Morning Herald 11 October 1858; Armidale Express 23 October 1858
  13. Maitland Mercury 16 October 1858
  14. Sydney Morning Herald 10 March 1859
  15. Ben Hay Martindale (1860), Fourth Report on Internal Communication of New South Wales 1859-60, Sydney, Government Printer, reprinted in Sydney Morning Herald 8 November 1860
  16. Martindale (1860)
  17. Government Gazette 13 May 1859
  18. NSW Government Gazette 8 April 1859; Sydney Morning Herald 10 March 1859; Maitland Mercury 12 March & 30 April 1859; The Empire 11 April 1860; Amie Nicholas (2015)
  19. Sydney Morning Herald 8 November 1860 & 21 January 1861; Maitland Mercury 16 July 1859, 7 January 1860, 6 & 10 October 1861, 29 August 1867
  20. Sydney Morning Herald 8 & 21 November 1860; RJS Thomas (1967), ‘Some aspects of the history of the roads of New South Wales’, JRAHS, 53, 1, March, pp.52-68
  21. Cecil & Celia Manson (1960), Doctor Agnes Bennett, London, Michael Joseph, p.6; Maitland Mercury 17 January 1861; Queanbeyan Golden Age 19 January 1861
  22. Manson (1960); Maitland Mercury 6 March 1862
  23. ‘Report on the state of the Roads in the colony of New South Wales, to 31 March 1865’, reprinted in Sydney Morning Herald 12 December 1865
  24. Report on the state of the roads 31 March 1865; The Roadmakers, Sydney, DMR, 1976, p.47
  25. The Roadmakers, p.52
  26. Report, Sydney Morning Herald 12 December 1865
  27. Maitland Mercury 6 June 1855
  28. ICE (1863), ‘American Timber Bridges’, Min. & Proc. ICE, p. 312
  29. Maitland Mercury 28 March 1867; Mining Record & Grenfell General Advertiser 20 June 1868; Empire 8 October 1869 & 28 January 1870; Australian Town & Country Journal 9 March 1872
  30. Bennett Report (1871), published in Maitland Mercury 28 March 1871; ‘Vox et deserto’ open letter to Minister John Sutherland, Maitland Mercury 18 June 1870
  31. The Empire, 3 May 1870; Bennett Report (1871)
  32. Tenders, Government Gazette 19 November 1872; Northern Star 17 June 1876
  33. Bennett Report (1871); Maitland Mercury 18 June 1870
  34. URS Corporation (2011), Historic context of Maryland Highway Bridges built between 1948 and 1960, Report for Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore, 5, p.74; Maitland Mercury 21 November 1863
  35. R Ian Jack and Aedeen Cremin (1994), Australia’s Age of Iron, University of Sydney Press, pp.21-22; Austech (1988), Technology in Australia 1788-1988, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Melbourne; Sydney Mail 27 May 1865; Sydney Morning Herald 21 November, 21 December 1864 & 25 February 1865; ‘A visit to the Fitzroy Mines’, Sydney Morning Herald 6 June 1865
  36. Bennett report published in Sydney Morning Herald 15 June 1870
  37. Sydney Morning Herald 1 February 1868; Bennett report (1870); Illustrated Australian News 10 October 1872; Min. & Proc. EANSW, IV, 1888-89; Queanbeyan Age 28 June 1867; JLN Southern (1987-88)‘The history of iron smelting in Australia’, Illawarra Historical Society Bulletin December-July
  38. Conservation Management Plan for 142-44 Pitt Street Sydney; Government Gazette 11 February 1870; Maitland Mercury 18 June 1870; Clarence & Richmond Examiner 7 April 1874; Sydney Morning Herald 8 September 1874
  39. Timothy Coghlan (1871), The Industrial Progress of New South Wales, Sydney, Government Printer
  40. Austech (1988)
  41. Habib Zafarullah (2014), Colonial Bureaucracies: Politics of Administrative Reform in Nineteenth Century Australia, Boca Raton Florida USA, pp.87-90; Hilary Golder (2005), Politics, Patronage and Public Works in New South Wales Sydney, UNSW Press, 1, 1840-1900
  42. NSW Government Gazette 1878, Vol.1, pp. 9 & 11
  43. Maitland Mercury 8 October 1870, 15 May 1875, 3 October 1876, 3 August & 19 October 1878
  44. Manson (1960); Sydney Morning Herald 16 February & 25 July 1878
  45. Manson (1960)
  46. Australian Town & Country Journal 5 July 1884; HH Dare (1896), ‘The opening bridges of New South Wales’, J. & Proc. SUES, 14, pp.1-11; DJ Fraser (2014), ‘Plaquing nomination for the 1883 lift bridge, North Bourke, NSW’, report for IEA and Bourke Shire Council
  47. WH Warren (1889), History of Civil Engineering in New South Wales, p. 595; United States Patent Office, Patent 327808, 1885; Sydney Morning Herald 16 April 1888; Cardno MBK (2001)
  48. Town & Country Journal 10 November 1888
  49. Evening News 18 June 1885
  50. WH Warren (1886), ‘The strength and elasticity of ironbark timber as applied to works of construction’, J. & Proc. RSNSW, 20, pp. 261-77; WH Warren (1888), ‘Description of the autographic stress-strain apparatus used in connection with the testing machine at the University of Sydney . . .’, J. & Proc. RSNSW, 22, pp.253-56; WH Warren (1890) ‘Some applications of the results of testing Australian timbers to the design and construction of timber structures’, J. & Proc. RSNSW, 24, pp.129-62; Evening News 20 December 1889; Sydney Morning Herald 14 September 1893
  51. De Burgh to Bennett 2 March 1886, ML SLNSW
  52. Bennett Report on Prospect Reservoir, NSWLA V. & Proc., 5, 1887-88
  53. Manson (1960)
  54. RE Jones Road Superintendent’s report September 1889, William Christopher Bennett, Records 1850 – 1889, ML SLNSW Manuscripts Collection, UMS 333; Obituaries eg Burrowa News 4 October 1889; William Christopher Bennett, Min. & Proc. ICE, 1890, pp. 346-48; Memoirs, Min. & Proc. EANSW, 4, 1888-89, pp 216-17
  55. Lenore Coltheart (1991), ‘Research Guide to the History of Public Works in New South Wales’, Sydney, PWD, p.51
  56. Richard Raxworthy (1989), The Unreasonable Man the life and works of JJC Bradfield, Sydney, Hale & Iremonger, p.25
  57. GHD ( 2015), ‘Movable Span Bridge Study: Vertical Lift Span Bridges’, report for Roads & Maritime Services
  58. Sydney Morning Herald 5 June 1889
  59. Berger et al (2015), p55
  60. Dare (1896); Michael Deakin (1995), ‘HH Dare and the NSW cardioids’, Australian Mathematical Society Gazette, December,
  61. Coltheart (1991), p.51
  62. Dare (1941)
  63. Lynn Mackay (1972), ‘Timber Truss Bridges in New South Wales’, Bachelor of Architecture thesis, University of Sydney, Appendix D; Obituary, Poverty Bay Herald, 4 June 1930
  64. PWDAR 1893, p.72; Percy Allan (1895), ‘Timber bridge construction in New South Wales’, J. & Proc. RSNW, XII; Raxworthy (1989), p.29; Ian Berger (2011), ‘The history and service of timber Howe bridges in Australia’, in Vachchiravetkumaran Ponnampalam, Eric Ancich & Huber Madrio (eds), Sustainable Bridges: The Thread of Society Sydney, Austroads Inc, pp. 510-27
  65. HH Dare (1941),‘Tales of a Grandfather’, typescript; PWDAR 1894, p.123; Australian Town and Country Journal, 12 March 1898, p.27
  66. Percy Allan, (1895), ‘Timber Bridge construction in New South Wales’, J. & Proc. RSNW, vol. 29, pp.1-20
  67. Percy Allan (1897), ‘The Wagga Wagga timber bridge, NSW’, Min. & Proc. ICE, vol.128, no. 2, pp. 222-25
  68. Raxworthy (1989), p.28
  69. DMR, 1978b, p.61; Main Roads
  70. The recollection was Gordon Stuckey’s, relayed by Brian Pearson in 2017
  71. Percy Allan (1924), ‘Highway bridge construction: the practice in New South Wales part 6, Industrial Australian and Mining Standard, 18 September, pp. 432-43 [14, 21, 28 August & 4, 11, 18 September]
  72. Raxworthy (1989), pp.28-29; HH Dare (1941), p.28
  73. Percy Allan (1907), ‘Pyrrmont Bridge, Sydney, New South Wales’, Min. & Proc. ICE, vol. 170, pp.137-225; EG Trueman (1988), ‘Pyrmont Bridge- Construction and Restoration’, Proceedings Fourth National Conference on Engineering Heritage, Sydney 5-8 December, pp. 98-108
  74. Queanbeyan Age 28 March 1900; Graham Andrews (1983), ‘Roads and Bridges’, in Alan Fitzgerald (ed) Canberra’s Engineering Heritage, Canberra, IEA, pp.1-46
  75. PWDAR 1900, pp.77-78; Raxworthy (1989), p.28; Wingham Chronicle 11 April 1900
  76. HH Dare (1904), ‘Recent road-bridge practice in New South Wales’, pp. 383, 400
  77. EM de Burgh (1900), ‘On the use of Monier pipes as a pile covering, and in place of cast-iron for cylinder foundations’, Min. & Proc. ICE, Vol. 142, January, pp 288-91; JJC Bradfield (1901), ‘Some notes on Monier construction’, J. & Proc. SUES, p.59
  78. EM de Burgh (1902),‘Pile sinking by means of a hydraulic jet at Moruya and Carrington Bridges, NSW’, Min. & Proc. ICE; Sydney Morning Herald 12 November 1902
  79. EM de Burgh (1907-08),‘The Practical work of starting a great engineering enterprise’, J. & Proc. SUES, vol.12, pp.38-46; EM de Burgh (1915-16), ‘Belt conveyor loading plant at Port Kembla, NSW’, Min. & Proc. NEINSW, vol.7, pp. 93-128
  80. PWDAR 1904, p. 43
  81. CS Daley (1966), A I Recall, Canberra, Mulini Press 1994
  82. Percy Allan (1906-07), ‘The drought antidote for the north-west, or the utilisation of the artesian resources of NSW’, J. & Proc. SUES, vol. 11, pp. 1-46
  83. The Age 17 January 1923; Main Roads, 17, no. 4, 1952. pp.16-19
  84. Raxworthy (1989), p.37
  85. Dare (1903-04)
  86. Dare’s papers in 1909-1910 included ‘Preliminary work on the proposed connection between Sydney and North Sydney, with some notes on long span bridges and subaqueous tunnelling’, J. & Proc. SUES, vol.14, 1909; ‘The water supply of Singleton, NSW’, J. & Proc. SUES, vol.15, 1910; and ‘Vehicular ferries in New South Wales’, Min. & Proc. ICE, vol.187, 1911-12, pp.292-300
  87. HH Dare (1920), ‘River Murray Waters scheme’, IEA J, vol.1, pp.193-213; HH Dare(1924), ‘The River Murray Waters Scheme’, The Commonwealth Engineer, November, reprinted in the Civil Engineering Record in May 1925 as ‘The River Murray Waters Scheme: the Nile of Australia’; HH Dare (1928), ‘Burrinjuck Dam, Murrumbidgee River’, Trans. IEA, vol.9, pp.1-23