Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Kerry Lodge Bridge, Franklin Village

Kerry Lodge Bridge, also known as Strathroy Bridge and Jinglers Creek Bridge, is a fine stone bridge built by convict labour in 1835 and considered the earliest major bridge on the Midlands Highway. The bridge is still in operation today on the old Midland Highway, also known as Hobart Rd. The new Midland Highway was upgraded and redirected during the construction of the southern outlet into Launceston, bypassing a number of Launceston outer suburbs and allowing motorists to travel into the city centre at almost highway speeds. The bridge can be seen from the new highways sections off to the side of the road as you cross over Jinglers Creek

Kerry Lodge Bridge adopts the name from the nearby property where Theodore and Hannah Bartley, the parents of sixteen children, lived. In 1830 Bartley sold a farm of 200 acres at Kerry Lodge to Lieutenant William Kenworthy, the Inspector of Public Works at Launceston, who later became concerned in the building of the bridge. Kerry Lodge House was demolished and the property now forms part of Strathroy.

Kerry Lodge Bridge is located on the original Midland Highway, some six miles (9.6 kilometers) just south of Launceston. The bridge was authorised by Lieutenant Governor Arthur, with work commencing in 1834. Lieutenant William Kenworthy was in charge on site, with John Lee Archer in overall charge in Hobart. Archer was also responsible for designing the magnificent Ross Bridge.

This bridge and causeway of bluestone masonry stands some six miles south of Launceston, its high single barrel vault across a deep gully. The massive facades are decorated with a colonnade of narrow pilasters, string courses and relief panels in the parapet walls. The copings are of random rough stones set on edge, unusual in Tasmania and particularly curious because at the time the bridge was built it was intended to have moulded freestone copings.

After an initial delay in consideration of tenders for the supply of lime, work was under way in February 1834 and by October correspondence was entered into about the provision of freestone for the coping of the parapet walls, a plan which did not materialise. The government records from 1835 states:
"This convict built bridge has been completed and a Stone Coping has been put on the parapet walls. The expense of convict labour performed amounts to 19 pounds no shillings and 4 pence and the further sum of one hundred and nine pounds seventeen shillings has been paid for stone lime and cartage.

Strathroy Bridge was added to the Tasmanian Heritage Register in April 2012 and in May 2012 the National Trust applied to the Launceston Council for funding assistance to install lighting at the bridge. Jingler's Valley, through which the railway passes after leaving St. Leonards was named after an outlaw who once made it his headquarters, hence Jingler's Creek.

This is a beautiful example of a convict constructed bridge and although it doesn’t seem to get the recognition of the likes of the convict bridges at Ross, Richmond & Campbelltown, it is an excellent example of the national transport infrastructure that was created during the convict era and that still survives and provides service to the travelling community to this day. Well worth taking the time to stop and check it out as you travel to and from Launceston.

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