Friday, October 29, 2021

Govt in a big rush to demolish timber bridge locals want to keep

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Richmond River Independent

Where is the outcry? Government set to start ripping down 1899 bridge tomorrow

The 1899 timber bridge at Tabulam. Photo: Susanna Freymark

The 1899 timber bridge at Tabulam is doomed to be demolished tomorrow unless a court delays or stops it.

Security guards have been spotted at the bridge since the weekend.

Locals have sought a stay of demolition for the bridge that mysteriously lost its heritage status in 2016.

If the judge at the hearing in the Land and Environment Court in Sydney today rules against the stay of demolition, the bridge will come down, with the government set to start ripping it down tomorrow.

Reflections of history at Tabulam Bridge. Photo: Susanna Freymark

President of the Sir Harry Chauvel Memorial Foundation Colonel Graeme Smith couldn’t tell which way the case would fall.

“We’ve put a case together on the reasons why the bridge should not be demolished,” he said. “Transport NSW have counter arguments.”

Graeme said the equipment to demolish the timber bridge was on standby next to the  bridge at Tabulam.

Transport NSW agreed to not start demolition until the hearing verdict was announced.

It will be sad if demolition goes ahead, Graeme said.

“The bridge is situated in the very place where General Harry Chauvel was born and has such relevance to Harry’s life.

“He spent his growing up years here. He rode across the bridge to get a boat to Sydney to go to school.”

Most importantly, it is a piece of Australian history.

Walkers take one last stroll across the famous De Burgh bridge. Photo: Susanna Freymark

A history that Transport for NSW and politicians are ignoring.

The cost of maintaining the bridge was cited as the reason it was delisted from the State Heritage register in 2016 but an independent report by Timber Restoration Service on maintaining it as a pedestrian bridge was a quarter of what Transport for NSW quoted.

Tomorrow is the end of an era as we either watch a special old bridge be demolished or we celebrate a win for history.

Save our bridge. Photo: Susanna Freymark

This article appeared in the Richmond River Independent, 21 October 2020.

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