Sustainable focus as Gilberton Swing Bridge reopens

15/01/2018

On Saturday 13 January 2018, more than 70 people joined the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters and the Town of Walkerville as the new Gilberton Swing Bridge was officially opened by Mayors Robert Bria and Ray Grigg.

The Gilberton Swing Bridge, jointly owned by the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters and the Town of Walkerville, has long been a treasured asset, greatly valued by the local community and used by pedestrians for almost a century.

The original bridge, officially opened on 20 March 1920 by John Snell, Mayor of St Peters, connects the suburbs of St Peters and Gilberton within the River Torrens Linear Park.

The new Gilberton Swing Bridge has been designed and built with the historical significance, heritage and aesthetics of the old bridge front of mind, whilst incorporating new elements which adhere to current safety and design standards.

A remarkable fact about the new bridge is that almost 400,000 plastic bags were diverted from landfill and recycled through ‘Replas’ to produce the decking. In fact, over the previous ten years, the City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters alone has diverted well over five million plastic bags from landfill to be recycled through Replas. These recycled bags have been used to make products such as decking, furniture, bollards and signage.

One of the key visual changes to the bridge is the addition of chain wire mesh fencing along both sides of the bridge, to meet the required safety standards.  The existing frames from the original bridge have been re-used for both aesthetic and heritage purposes, which sit alongside the new frames at each end of the bridge. The main cables, new frames and footings at each end of the bridge have also improved to meet modern day design standards.

History of the bridge 

In the 1900s, the area west of Stephen’s Terrace, from Eighth Avenue to the River Torrens, lay undeveloped.

By 1915, local football matches and cricket were being played in the area and the building of the Gilberton Swimming Baths raised the profile of the river front area as an ideal place for recreational activities.

Unable to sell the land for public use, Frank Woolley (1861-1941), a well-known accountant and property developer in Adelaide and St Peters, proceeded with a division of 85 allotments from Ninth Avenue to the River Torrens and intended to raise the attractiveness of the land by connecting them to the tramways with a suspension footbridge.

The original suspension bridge, completed in February 1920, was commissioned and paid for by Frank Woolley and designed and built by Charles Francis Muller. The original bridge was composed of Oregon footboards and Jarrah cross pieces with steel stranded cables and hangars.

The construction of the bridge cost Frank Woolley a total of 306 pounds. At the time of its opening, it had a span of 188 feet (57.3 metres) between the uprights on either bank of the river and a width of three feet (0.9 metres).

On the 12 June 1926, Frank Woolley gifted the Swing Bridge to the Gilberton Amateur Swimming Club.

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