The first Long Bridge in Maitland
Maitland’s first ‘long bridge’ was a wooden structure completed in about 1838 at the base of Campbell’s Hill, which replaced a short wooden bridge opened in 1825.
The bridge’s completion was probably a great relief for teamsters and their bullocks which on occasion could have been stranded in the muddy track at Campbell’s Hill for weeks at a time. Major floods covered part or all of the bridge at various times and flood-borne debris also caused great damage.
Repair or replacement of piles, crossbeams, handrails, sleepers and flooring lent an ongoing concern to bridge maintenance
A new Long Bridge
The March 1893 flood caused major destruction, sweeping away over 300 feet of the western end of the bridge leaving it completely wrecked.
When the water receded the Roads Department provided a temporary footbridge across the long wide flat and in July called tenders for a replacement timber beam bridge. The successful tenderer was the renowned bridge builder Samuel McGill who rebuilt the bridge in record time, taking about fourteen months for the work, with the bridge reopening in May 1894.
When completed the new bridge was thought to be one of the finest wooden bridges in the colony. This timber beam bridge (1050 feet in length) was constructed mainly of ironbark, with more than 500 trees used for the sawn timber and more than 600 more needed for girders and piles. The new bridge was considered to be solid and substantial.
The opening ceremony on 22 May 1894 attracted thousands of spectators, making some difficulty for the distinguished visitors to reach the dais in the centre of the bridge. Those distinguished visitors included the Premier (Sir George Dibbs) the Minister of Works (Mr. W.J. Lyne), the Hon. Alex Brown, M.L.A., the Mayor of West Maitland (Mr. H. Crothers).
A tram trestle was added to the Long Bridge in 1909 for the extension of the East to West Maitland tram service to Regent Street, trams remaining in operation until 1926.
The Long Bridge after 1938
The 1894 wooden structure was eventually replaced by a concrete bridge opened in December 1938, three years after commencement of the work in July 1935.
The new bridge was described as a modern and impressive structure, measuring 875 feet in length.
School children planted poplar trees beside the bridge on Arbor Day 1939.
Another new bridge was required after the extensive damage caused by the February 1955 flood.
A road across the lowland was built for use pending opening of the new bridge.
In February 2018 significant decay had been identified in the poplars, resulting in their removal.