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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Crossing The Clyde exhibition OPENS

‘Crossing the Clyde’ exhibition opens at the Batemans Bay Heritage Museum on November 21st 2022 (same date as the opening of the 1956 bridge) The Batemans Bay Heritage Museum say: CROSSING THE CLYDE

The project Crossing the Clyde started when we learned our iconic lifting span bridge in the Bay was to be demolished. It had been part of community life for over 65 years – and before that to cross the Clyde took a mix of punts and ferries from the late 19th century.

The lifting bridge was an unusual design and it was memorable—people felt an emotional link to it. As part of our remit as an historical society we had to find a way to capture the impact of its replacement by a 4 lane highway, and set it within the story of multiple ways used to cross the Bhundoo.

We were very fortunate that the construction company John Holland and Transport NSW understood that this was an historic event and they were very helpful in allowing us access to select some representative artefacts from the old bridge. But we had to select items before we really had a venue.

We had decided to go with the construction theme by using a former site shed for the display– but they aren’t large, so that also affected what we chose to take - also dictated by primarily how the item could- help reflect stories of changing technologies from pre-bridge crossings by punt, to these two very different bridges.

We now have the original operating mechanism before they went electric. We have a chunk of the linked chain and one of the large wheels that hoisted the counterweights to lift the bridge. We have sections of the security fencing that ran down the side of the pedestrian walkway, with the original lovelocks that people left on it, and we have numerous metal signs.

Then we had to decide from a conservation perspective what needed to be housed indoors, or just under shelter, or could hack it outside regardless of the weather.

And what platform the items would need – concrete base or free standing.

Then security – not just for the objects themselves, but children are notorious for climbing over anything more than a foot off the ground, and we have this big arch of chain which is quite inviting.

That reminds me of one of the stories on the wall – how jumping off the bridge was prohibited but it was a rite of passage for local kids and thus completely ignored.

Anyway, because the site shed was in use until the last moments of demolition, we worked out everything on paper with photos of the artefacts. The shed arrived in June. The heavy items were craned in last and placed around the site shed. It was quite nerve wracking watching them be swung in, over our buildings. Because crew were hired and not volunteers used to coping with my vagaries, I couldn’t say to the crane operators – “Oh, on second thoughts, it might look better over the other side.” What was dropped, stayed. With the large pieces in place, we could focus on the interior photos and display smaller items, like a couple of the truly huge spanners which were used by workers on the iron framework of the old bridge.

I think what people will find interesting is the leap in technology between the construction of the two bridges. From foreman Bob Davis in his hard hat diving suit, and carrying loads on his shoulders, to today’s operation where John Holland Group inducted over 1300 people during the course of the build, spread over two locations.

3 Museum Place, Batemans Bay


Tuesday Wednesday Thursday 10am-3pm $5 per head children under 12 free

NOTE: Comments were TRIALED - in the end it failed as humans will be humans and it turned into a pile of merde; only contributed to by just a handful who did little to add to the conversation of the issue at hand. Anyone who would like to contribute an opinion are encouraged to send in a Letter to the Editor where it might be considered for publication

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