Hampden Bridge Restoration

Hampden Bridge, Australia’s last surviving wooden suspension bridge (from the Victorian era) has been saved by the Road Traffic Authority (RTA) through a series of conservation steps to restore the bridge. This has enabled Hampden Bridge to continue its vital role of linking the Southern Highlands with the South Coast of NSW.

Restoration of such a historic structure was not a straight forward task and involves expertise sourced from across the state.

The vital and exciting program had to consider the original 1890’s engineering triumph, plan day and night work considering tradesmen safety, meanwhile, keep the bridge open for business and committing to delivering a final result faithful to the original wooden bridge.

The community was involved, contributing to the project plan, ensuring rural life and business continues operating as usual and managing the heritage values of Hampden Bridge. It is very much part of our community.

Restoration not Replacement

Hampden Bridge has historical significance at a State level as the second major suspension bridge constructed in NSW. In recognition of the bridge’s rarity and historic and aesthetic qualities the Road Traffic Authority (RTA) set about a conservation program to responsibly restore the bridge for current and future generations. This option was chosen above using modern technologies or replace in favour of a two crossing.

The RTA established conservation policies to guide its ongoing maintenance and operation of Hampden Bridge. This was to ensure it retained and protected the conservation values for the long term. The work carried out:

  • replaced the deck with a new wood deck, laid in the same fashion as the original
  • reinforce the abutments
  • replace the bearings
  • replace the mid-span pins
  • improve the end restraints to the edge stiffening trusses

Fast Facts

  • The total length of timbers in the 78 metre long deck is approximately 4.389 kilometres. Every metre of this timber was replaced as part of the restoration work.
  • These timbers weigh a combined 136 tonnes – or the same as 100 hatchback cars.
  • During the redecking of the bridge approximately 8,000 individual bolts were used to fix timbers together and in place.
  • Approximately 1500 litres of paint were used to repaint the timber bridge trusses.

Hampden Bridge is actually 177mm, or approximately 7 inches, wider than is shown in the original 19th Century engineering plans. It’s uncertain when over the last 113 years the shift from the original plans happened, however RTA engineers suspect it may have been during construction of the bridge!