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Birkenhead Bridge
Title : Birkenhead Bridge Birkenhead Bridge
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Creator : Scott, Jenny, photographer
Source : B 69528 The ketch Nelcebee passing under the Birkenhead Bridge
Date of creation : 1980
Format : Photograph
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
Catalogue record
The State Library of South Australia is keen to find out more about SA Memory items. We encourage you to contact the Library if you have additional information about any of these items.
Copyright : This item is reproduced courtesy of Ms Jenny Scott. It may be printed or saved for research or study. Use for any other purpose requires written permission from Ms Jenny Scott and the State Library of South Australia. To request approval, complete the Permission to publish form.
Description :

The Birkenhead Bridge raised to allow the MV Nelcebee through.

Built in 1940, the Birkenhead Bridge is a twin bascule span bridge which services both road and shipping traffic. Bascule refers to the see-saw action of the lifting mechanism that allows each 360 tonne leaf to tilt upwards to allow ships through.

It took many years of discussion before this bridge was finally built. A bridge across the Port River was first suggested in 1838 and on and off these discussions continued for the remainder of the century. The Port River bridge, and its replacement the Jervois Bridge were never seen as the answer to the issue, especially with the development of Birkenhead and the establishment of large fuel depots and other industrial complexes on the far side of the river.

Finally in 1936 Act 2315 was passed in the South Australian Parliament: this authorised the construction of a bridge across the Gawler reach of the river from Nelson Street to Birkenhead Street (later named Victoria Road). By 1937 the necessary land for the approaches had been acquired and tenders let. Dredging began in August and by February 1938 the northern pier had been completed. Work continued steadily despite the commencement of World War II and the bridge was completed and opened in December 1940.

The bridge is 808 feet long and has a width of 53 feet. It carries four lanes of traffic with footpaths both sides. The centre opening span is 182 feet long. There are two control towers and these are manned 16 hoursa day from 6am to 10pm, a reduction from the original 24 hour a day service. The bascules are operated by four 40hp electric motors.

The Nelcebee was first registered in 1883 and continued to trade around the coast of South Australia for 100 years. She was finally withdrawn from service in 1982 having spent the previous 20 years servicing Kangaroo Island.
Related names :

Nelcebee (Ship)

Coverage year : 1980
Place : Port Adelaide
Further reading :

Ritter, Ron Spanning time and tide: the bridges of the Port Adelaide River [Para Vista, S.A.]: R.C. Ritter, 1996

Couper-Smartt, John Port Adelaide: tales from a "commodious harbour" Port Adelaide: Friends of the South Australian Maritime Museum, 2003

Gillespie, James, Traders under sail: the cutters, ketches and schooners of South Australia Largs Bay, S. Aust.: J. Gillespie, 1994

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing exhibitions. Wooden Walls and Iron Sides August 2004-



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