The Opening of the New Perth Bridge, Perth, Western Australia – 12 November 1867By Remembering the Past Australia / March 11, 2022 / Australia / 0 Comments
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
12 November 1867
This image is part of the Colonial Office photographic collection held at The National Archives UK.
Soon after the colony was founded, settlers lobbied for the construction of a road across the mudflats in the Swan River at the eastern end of the town. The first Perth Bridge was officially opened by Chairman of the Road Trust J. W. Hardey on 24 May 1843. This original “causeway” consisted of a central bridge (for river navigation), with a raised rampart on either side and operated as a toll road with 6d being charged to horse and carriage riders, and 1d for pedestrians on foot to cross. The original Causeway remained the only Swan River crossing in Perth for 19 years until it was largely destroyed during flooding in the winter of 1862.
The second Perth Bridge (pictured) was built in response to the flooding which had occurred in June 1862. Designed by colonial architect Richard Roach Jewell, the Causeway was reconstructed several feet higher than the original, using convict labour. It was officially opened, along with the Guildford and Helena bridges the same day, by WA Governor John Stephen Hampton on 12 November 1867.
The second bridge was to be opened by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Alfred; however, the Royal Navy ship HMS Galatea failed to call in to Western Australia on its way to Sydney. As a result, the Governor proceeded with the opening in the Duke’s absence. On 12 November 1867, the Governor drove “through an avenue of flags and bunting” from Government House to the Causeway. There were military corps, a band and a great crowd present for the opening. After speeches by dignitaries, the Governor declared the new Causeway open with the following words:
I, John Stephen Hampton, Governor in and over the Colony of Western Australia, do hereby declare this Perth Bridge and Causeway open for traffic.
The proceedings were then disrupted when a man “raced across the newly-opened bridge before the Governor’s procession” on horseback after announcing the following to the astonished crowd:
And I, John Stephen Maley, do hereby declare that I will be the first to cross this Perth Bridge and Causeway!
The parade, including the Governor’s carriage, then proceeded over the new Causeway after Maley. The Governor’s procession continued on steamboats upstream to Guildford where the Governor opened the new Guildford and Helena Bridges.
Consisting of three bridges totalling 490 metres, the second Causeway was structurally weak for its time due to budget constraints and required numerous upgrades throughout the years. The bridges were strengthened and their width increased on three separate occasions in 1899, 1904, and 1932 respectively, culminating in a total width of 11 metres. The second Causeway stood proud for 80 years until it was replaced by the current dual Causeway bridges that connect Perth to Victoria Park via Heirisson Island in 1947. [Museum of Perth; Wikipedia]
Showing the 0pening of the New Perth Bridge, Perth, Western Australia, on 12 November 1867.
From the collection of: