Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Oallen Ford Bridge

Up until 1934 the road between Windellama and Nerriga could not be used on a regular basis due to the condition of Oallen Ford crossing. There was no bridge over the Shoalhaven River then and when the water level was too high a detour had to be made via Braidwood.

Dredge at Oallen Ford
The matter of a bridge came before Mulwaree Shire Council on a number of occasions but as it was on the border with Tallaganda Shire and the proximity to Nerriga it was felt it was more a matter for Tallaganda Shire.

James Dunn of Nerriga and others put a petition to the councils and in early 1934 an often heated meeting was held on the banks of the Shoalhaven River near the crossing. Following the meeting and representations to the NSW. government the go ahead was given to build a bridge. The cost of £1600 being funded by a grant of £1000 and the remainder of the cost to be divided between the two shire councils.

The designs were drawn up by the Engineers of the two councils and Mr. J. Harrison the Mulwaree Shire engineer supervised the work on the bridge. The bridge is of five spans and over 120 tons of concrete was used for the piers. Due to there being no hold ups in the construction because of bad weather the cost of the bridge was just over £1430.

For years the crossing of the Shoalhaven River was a risky endeavour but the bridge opened up the road between not only Windellama and Nerriga but provided a road from Goulburn to the coast.

Over 200 district people were present for the official opening at 3 pm on 7 October 1935. The official party was made up of J.M. Tully and H.J. Bate MLA’s in the NSW. parliament, the Mayor of Goulburn Ald. T.P. Manion, President of Mulwaree Shire Cr. J.J. Walsh, Mayor of Braidwood Ald J.J. Roberts, President of Tallaganda council W.U. Alley, President of Clyde Council Cr. Boag and the Minister for Local Government Mr. E.S. Spooner.

Oallen Ford Bridge
After Mr. Spooner cut the blue ribbon and declared the bridge open a discussion was held to decide which car would be the first to drive over the newly opened bridge. While the party were making this decision a motor car could be heard in the distance and then a very travel stained old touring car came into view, bounced over the stones on the Nerriga side and rattled across the bridge without knowing the honour they had bestowed on themselves which would have had some people remembering the incident at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge a few years earlier. The occupants of the car were Mr. E. Shaw, Mr. C. Pryke, Mr. H. Alcock and Mr. T. Alcock all of Dumbleton who had been camping near Nerriga and were unaware of the new bridge or the opening ceremony.

After the opening ceremony a dinner was held at the Commercial Hotel at Nerriga followed by a dance, these two functions being organised by the Nerriga Progress Association.

References:  Goulburn Evening Penny Post 8-10-1935 and 10-10-1935.  Submitted by Tom Bryant 2011

Do you remember the Oallen Ford Bridge opening - was anyone from your family at the event?  Please share these memories.

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