Tumut Bridge Opened

Adelong and Tumut Express and Tumbarumba Post

12 August 1904

Just as everything was ready for the bridge-opening on Wednesday an unfortunate incident occurred.

Mr. M. S. Downing and some drovers approached with a small herd of cattle they seemed extra anxious should cross, despite the wish of the Mayor.

The latter, with, assistance, stopped all but one cow, which caused great consternation to the crowd of persons on the bridge as she rushed madly through them, luckily for the drover inflicting no damage on anyone other than intense fright.

Seeing that the bridge opening is not likely to occur again for about 50 years, and that the function had been well advertised, we think a more opportune time for crossing the cattle might have been chosen.

Of course it is a public highway, but we think the safety of the public should receive more consideration than the pounds, shillings and pence of a private individual, who should now feel relieved at no accident occurring.

There is the fact still to be borne in mind that the municipal by-laws provide a penalty for driving stock within the municipality after a certain hour in the morning and before a specified hour in the evening.

If the privilege is given stockmen to traverse the municipality on occasions when no danger to the public is imminent, they should not take the undue liberty of breaking the law and risking the lives of the people in a manner similar to that perpetrated on Wednesday.

Notwithstanding electioneering matters, and the opinion freely expressed that the formal opening ceremony of the bridge at the base of Wynyard street would prove a failure, a more enjoyable function was never experienced here for years.

About 500 turned up, including a large proportion of women and children, at 2.30 p.m. on Wednesday last.

The Tumut Town Band came out in full strength, and enlivened the proceedings by playing during the afternoon select and inspiriting airs.

At the instigation of the Mayor (Aid. J. E. Madigan) Mr. R. Donaldson said he was pleased to be present on the occasion.

The bridge they were standing on had been ridiculed in the Sydney papers, but he could assure them all it was perfectly safe to carry 1000 people, if such were necessary.

The malicious paragraph had no truth in it.

The bridge was built when economy was the order of the day, when the country was crying out for retrenchment.

It had not perhaps that imposing appearance on top that some might wish it to possess, but it was serviceable, and what was more it had the strength and even the youngest present would not live to see the end of it. [this last comment proved correct as the bridge was still standing (but too dangerous to use) in 2014 - tumuthistory.com] .

The first bridge was built about a mile up the river, and in the early days it suited the purposes of the, then, population.

The first bridge over the spot they were standing on was built by Messrs. Hammond and Bocking in 1862.

It was a showy structure, but was not substantial, as was evinced when the contractors for the present structure were pulling it down.

The new bridge was a substantial one, and the good men employed in building it (Messrs. McEvoy Bros.) was a sufficient guarantee to the public that the work was done faithfully and well.

One half the traffic to and from Tumut was over this bridge, and, recognising this fact, he had asked for the resumption of a piece of land on the Bombowlee side to stop a recurrence of what had happened that day.

They would now have an alternative route, both for stock and vehicles - one that would be especially appreciated in the summer time.

He bad very much pleasure in presenting the worthy Mayoress with a beautiful pair of silver scissors, and he asked her to open the bridge.

His Worship the Mayor was so disconcerted over the cattle driving incident that he was unable to speak about the bridge other than to congratulate the contractors, Messrs. McEvoy Bros., on their excellent work.

Although it was not an ornamental structure, it was decidedly substantial and would well meet all their requirements.

A blue ribbon, tied across the bridge, was severed by the Mayoress (Mrs. J. E. Madigan), who declared the bridge open for traffic to the public.

A bottle of champagne (the gift of the Mayor) was suspended by a blue ribbon from a standard over the centre of the river, and beneath the same was a small pile of stones.

The Mayoress then cut the ribbon by which the 'Imperial' was suspended, and when the effervescing fluid was liberated she named the structure the 'Tumut Bridge.'

Mr. Donaldson then called for three cheers each for the Mayor and Mayoress, and Mr. W. H. Bridle called for three for Mr. Donaldson, who had been the means of obtaining the structure. The cheers were heartily given.

The Mayor then called upon Mr. Bucknell, Roads Engineer, to say a few words.

In reply, Mr. Bucknell explained the differences the department had decided on adhering to in respect of future bridges.

Where it was practiceable to drive piles to suit a 35ft. span, they erected a simple beam-bridge. If the span was, say, 40, 50 or 60ft. they had to put on truss girders.

A beam bridge, the same as the present, was calculated to carry the greatest possible weight to go on the bridge at once.

With regard to water resting on the bridge, he would see it was fixed within a fortnight, the intention being to put metal on the boards and have outlets for impounded water on the sides.

Mr. W. Bridle was next called upon to speak. He said he well remembered the first bridge over the Tumut River, built by Messrs. Foord and Anderson.

Before that Jack Rix had a ferry boat. Grog was then Is a glass. He himself in 1859 and 1860 had a boat on the river a little above the present bridge, which was then considered a great convenience.

He endorsed what had been said by their member.

The timber from the South Coast, of which the bridge was constructed, was the best that could be obtained, and it had been well put together.

Mr. Donaldson said he had that day received a letter from the Under Secretary of the Public Works Department to the effect that Mr. Secretary Bennett was at, present in the Durham district busy on electioneering matters, and it was highly improbable he would be present.

The boat racing, under the able superintendence of Mr. W. T. Howitt, was next proceeded with. The course was from the bridge down the stream to a given point and back to the starting place.

The first heat was between Geo. Godfrey and A. Bulfin, the former winning with the utmost ease. J. Slack won comfortably from J. Cunningham, and Godfrey beat Slack in the final.

The other item was a footrace, open to all-comers, handicap, 75yds, prize 10s. Ten entered for this. It, was run in two divisions, I. Hargreaves scoring the first and F. Marriott the second. In the run off Marriott won, and he signified his intention of donating the prize to the Tumut Cottage Hospital.

During the afternoon Messrs. S. Groves and A. W. Watson collected 2 12s 6d towards the funds of the Tumut Brass Band, and a balance of about 1 remained, over and above the bridge-opening expenses, and this the committee decided to hand to the Band.

On the whole a most enjoyable afternoon was spent, and if the cow opened traffic on the bridge it caused a bit of excitement which the public on the bridge at the time will not care to experience again.