Geraldton council votes against heritage listing Chapman River Road Bridge

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
The Chapman River Bridge in 1890.
Camera IconThe Chapman River Bridge in 1890. Credit: Supplied

Council has decided a section of a Geraldton bridge built by convicts more than 150 years ago should not be heritage listed, as it will complicate future repairs to the structure.

Brick piles encased by concrete are all that remain of the original Chapman River Road Bridge, which the WA Government has proposed be listed with the State Register of Heritage Places.

The bridge was was built by convicts in 1864 and is said to have inspired Maley’s Bridge in Greenough, which was registered as a heritage site in 1993.

But City of Greater Geraldton Mayor Shane Van Styn said the Chapman River Road Bridge was not comparable to its Greenough counterpart “in any way, shape or form”.

“The idea that this bridge is somehow reflective of historical elements is a bit lost on me,” he said.

“One needs to only drive over it to see a bitumen road and steel buttresses, and the stones that were originally built by convicts are somewhere inside the concrete casing that has been placed around them to hold them.”

Heritage guidelines would prevent the removal of the brick piles, with Mr Van Styn saying a second bridge would have to be built if the original became too damaged to use.

“Making a second bridge would involve significant clearing of the Chapman River reserve and duplicating the amount of interference with native flora and fauna and a partial destruction of what is a very small amount of estuarine environment left,” he said.

“To impose regulatory burden on the maintenance of a vital piece of infrastructure for Geraldton, would just absolutely hinder us.”

The motion to oppose the bridge being listed on the State register was carried nine votes to four, but Mr Van Styn said the State Government could choose to ignore council’s feedback.

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