People walking over Ashburton’s railway overbridge might notice blue plaque, which was unveiled last year to commemorate that structure’s 100th birthday.
The present bridge replaced a 1911 one, which as located slightly further down the line, and built in connection with the first railway station. With the erection of a ‘new’ station (demolished in 2013) a new bridge was needed to ensure pedestrians continued to have a safe way to cross the then very busy railway lines.
The bridge once had three exits, but one on the East Street side was removed in 1983. The main components are metal and imported Jarrah wood.
Although locals may take the bridge for granted, or see it as a poignant reminder of the lost railway station, it is a significant structure in its own right.
Even with just the two exits remaining, it is still an imposing structure.
It is one of seven of the last remaining bow string truss bridges left in the country, which is of interest in itself. More than that, however, is the fact that of the seven it is the second largest – with Dunedin claiming the title by 13 feet.
We hope these images will inspire readers to appreciate and take time to walk over one of the oldest public structures in our town and admire not only the plaque but the detail of this historic structure’s construction.
By Kathleen Stringer
- Photograph showing the three exits of the first bridge.
- While being on the bridge nowadays with a train rushing would be an uncommon, if nerve-wracking experience, imagine being covered by steam as well.
- The first, 1911 bridge, complete with stairs, was relocated but demolished in 1974.
- A more modern view of the present bridge. This image was taken about 2013.
- Obviously Ashburton locals were proud of their railway station and bridge. This is the second image that is a postcard, this one features the goods shed.
- View of the bridge, with the band rotunda and St Andrews in the background.