The legacy of one of Wagga’s most iconic bridges will live on as the council prepares to begin construction on a new project.
The Hampden Bridge opened on November 11, 1895, and closed nearly 100 years later in October 1995.
Sherry Morris, a Wagga historian, said the structure was designed by Percy Allan and replaced the Wagga Company Bridge that was constructed in 1862.
“It was on the verge of collapse,” she said.
“It had been damaged by the 1891 floods and was it was taking heavier loads.
“The Hampden Bridge was intended to be the replacement.”
Ms Morris said the Gobbagombalin and Wiradjuri bridges were opened in 1997 and 1995 respectively as replacements.
“It’s an important piece of our local history that needs to be remembered,” she said.
“It was classified by the National Trust.
“Percy Allan’s timber designs have been said to be accepted as the best in the history of the state.”
Ms Morris said the project has been a long time coming and she will be glad to see the iconic structure’s story immortalised in the city.
Wagga mayor Greg Conkey said in 2012, then-councillors unanimously voted the city could not afford the hefty maintenance price tag to keep the bridge safe and sturdy.
The interpretation project was one of the specific consent conditions when the bridge set to be demolished.
Councillor Conkey said it was an important piece of history that needed to be remembered and he himself had fond memories of walking and driving on the bridge.
“It served this city well,” he said.
“It was a unique structure and it played a significant role in the development of this city.”
Cr Conkey said works had been held off until stage two of the levee upgrade was completed in the area adjacent to the site of Hampden Bridge.
“The project will cost $364,000,” he said.
“There will be interpretive signage and historic photographs to explain the history.
“It will involve new seating, handrails, lighting, a replica gas lantern from the late 1800s and will completely be relandscaped.”
Cr Conkey said, unfortunately, pieces of the original structure set aside after demolition had been contaminated.
“The contamination occurred due to lead paint which makes it very difficult to restore,” he said.
Construction is set to begin in May with an expected completion time frame of six weeks.
“It will be a nice space for the community to enjoy and can be used for various events,” he said.
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