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Fremantle Stuff > Bridges > Railway Bridges

Fremantle Railway Bridges

See also: railways, railway stations.

rail bridge

The current rail bridge crosses the river just to the west of the Stirling Bridge. In a storm in 2014 a large ship was driven from its mooring into the current bridge, resulting in its closure for a number of weeks. There was at least one earlier railway bridge (from 1881) further downstream. It collapsed in floods in 1926 but was repaired. My photo above from the top of the Signal Station on Cantonment Hill.

rail work

This inadequate photo, Feb 2016, gives some idea of the defences being constructed to the west of the railway bridge, leaving no doubt that this is not to be moved. The huge crane platform at the right of the photo should have been in the centre, to show the extent of the works being carried out.

railway

In March 2016 the crane is being moved to a different position by two boats.

railway bridge

The bridge in the above photograph is not today's rail bridge, and is not in the same place as the present one. The current bridge comes to the shore further east (to the left). A second bridge was built upstream to allow the harbour to be expanded eastwards, following the Tydeman Report of 1949. This 1881 rail bridge collapsed in a flood in 1926, raising the question of the eastern extension of the harbour, but it was decided then to repair the old bridge for the time being.

Fremantle Railway Bridge looking from North Fremantle. The reclamation visible on the farther shore was spoil from the building of Dalgety's wool store in the early 1920's. Several homes on both the Beach Street and Queen Victoria Street frontages were demolished for the building of the wool store. George Shenton's barge the Gazelle, built 1864, was buried by the reclamation. For many years it lay abandoned and partly submerged in the river and was used by local children as a diving platform and place to fish from. From c1881-1896 the bridge had a single track. After 1896 the tracks were duplicated. A few years later a narrow four foot wide walkway (eastern side of bridge) was added for cyclists and pedestrians. The Port Brewery (in centre) was in Beach Street. Construction began on 15th November 1892, central portion collapsed 4th March 1893. Demolished c1963 to permit relocation of road and rail facilities. Obelisk on Monument Hill erected 1867, demolished 1924. Replaced by Fallen Soldiers and Sailors Memorial 1928. 1976 - the railway embankment occupies the middle scene. From Fremantle History Centre: text, and Izzy Orloff photo #468.

railbridges

Aerial photo showing the current rail bridge, in the middle, immediately before the older one, right, being removed.

collapse

The bridge collapse of 23 July 1925. That looks like the 1866 road bridge in the distance.

stumps

Photo taken 17 March 1968 showing the remains of the earlier railway bridge - since removed, of course - with the current rail bridge in the background, and a train conveniently crossing it. The train is pre-electric - what we used to call 'a diesel'. I'm guessing that the works going on between are extending the harbour eastwards.

References and Links

Hitchcock, J.K. 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia, 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Wikipedia article on Queen Victoria Street.

Engineering Heritage Panel, Swan & Canning Rivers Bridges: Australian Engineering Week Tour 2009.


Garry Gillard | New: 17 March, 2018 | Now: 18 March, 2018