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Smeaton Bridge

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Bridge on Creswick-Newstead Road, viewed from Alice Street, Smeaton VIC 3364

Explore other locations around this area using our interactive map

Features

  • Historic bluestone bridge
  • Information sign
  • Right alongside Andersons Mill
This gorgeous bluestone bridge was built in 1892 to replace an earlier wooden trestle bridge, and crosses Birch Creek on the Creswick-Newstead Road. Best viewed from Alice Street, Smeaton Bridge is a great place to check out while exploring the beautiful buildings and history of Andersons Mill. 

Multiple picnic tables sit in the shade here alongside the scenic Birch Creek.

An illustrated information sign stands before the bridge and displays the following text:

Smeaton Bridge - Bluestone over Birchs'

Of all the wonderful buildings and structures left to us by the early settlers this bridge is one of the finest examples of the masonry and brickwork skills present in the colony from the 1800's. 

The original 1860's wooden trestle bridge carried gold and then grain. Tenders were called or the construction of a new bridge over Birchs' Creek in 1892.

Council received several tenders and through either good fortune or the wisdom of the Councillors, a Mr W Barker was chosen to build the Smeaton Bridge for a total cost of £3348 or about $9,300.

Construction commenced in March 1892 using locally quarried bluestone. 

... Cr Leishman moved the W Barkers tender for a stone arch bridge at £3348 be accepted. Cr Graves secconded. He had known the man for 35 years, and knew that whatever he took in hand he would carry through creditably. The motion was carried...

From Creswick Shire Council Meeting, Thursday February 4th, 1892.

Curving stone - the key to strength.

Arched bridges were commonplace at the time though construction still required skilled artisans and an exact knowledge of bridge building. Timber formwork was erected for the arch, and each course of stone was cut to fit into the wooden arch. The formwork was used to hold up the arch until the "keystones" were placed, locking the arch span into place. The design, cutting and placement of the keystones were critical to the success of the bridge; these blocks of stone literally are the key to holding a bridge upright. 

With much local interest and speculation, the keystones were put in place in September 1893 and the timber formwork as removed. 

The bridge was reported open for traffic on the Saturday afternoon of December 19th 1892 just 9 months after work commenced.

Strangely in an age where ceremony was well indulged, there is no record of the bridge ever being officially opened. 

Built for Table Top Wagons and Traction Engines weighing 10-12 tonnes in 1892, this beautiful bridge shows no strain or signs of weakening accommodating today's "B double" semi trailers weighing around 60 - 70 tonnes. Long may she carry us. 

For more information on the Smeaton Bridge and other history of the area, the Creswick Historical Museum is open every Sunday and public holidays between 1:30 and 4:30 pm. It is located in the main street of Creswick in the original Town Hall building. 


 

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