2014: An Australian Community Says Goodbye to a 119-Year-Old Bridge

August 20, 2014

In Australia’s state of New South Wales (NSW), the longtime Hampden Bridge in the city of Wagga Wagga was demolished with an induced collapse method involving explosives. The Wagga Wagga City Council had voted to get rid of the bridge because of what was deemed to be the too-high costs for maintaining it.

The Hampden Bridge, which crossed over the Murrumbidgee River, was officially opened to traffic in 1895. The structure was named in honor of Henry Robert Brand, 2nd Viscount Hampden, at a time when he was preparing to assume the duties of governor of the then-colony of NSW. (He would serve in this position until 1899.) The bridge replaced one that had been there since 1862.

As part of the dedication ceremony, Mayor R.S. Haydon of Wagga Wagga christened the bridge with a bottle of champagne. Other public officials at the event included James Henry Young, NSW secretary for public works. During his remarks, he talked not only about the new bridge but its predecessor. The Sydney-based Daily Telegraph reported, “He compared the old with the new bridge, and stated that the latter had been built on new plans, with all the latest engineering improvements, with iron piers and ironbark and tallow-wood superstructure.”

The Hampden Bridge was closed to highway traffic a century later, with the nearby Wiradjuri Bridge taking over that local role for vehicles. The Hampden Bridge was subsequently used for pedestrians only as part of a hiking route between the suburb of North Wagga and Wagga Wagga’s central business district. Eight years before being demolished, however, the bridge was shut down altogether.

For more information on the Hampden Bridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampden_Bridge,_Wagga_Wagga.

To view the induced collapse, see the video here:

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