Newsletter Issue Number:
AICCM National Newsletter No 161 August 2023
Nick Flood
Historic photograph of Pyrmont Bridge

Pyrmont Bridge open for boats to pass through, Darling Harbour. Image: Graeme Andrews, used courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives.

Earlier this year, the AICCM NSW Division devoted an evening to Sydney’s other iconic bridge, Pyrmont Bridge. The event included presentations from representatives of the preservation project currently taking place on the bridge, viewing of a scale model of the bridge, a ride on its swing span and drinks at the nearby Pyrmont Bridge Hotel.

At 120 years old, Pyrmont Bridge is the world’s oldest surviving, still-operating, electric swing bridge. A swing bridge has a section of its structure that pivots horizontally to allow boats to pass through. For most of its life, Pyrmont Bridge was a vehicle bridge carrying horses, carts, cars, trucks, buses and, for a time, a monorail train. It’s now reserved for pedestrians and cyclists, connecting them to the centre of Sydney across Darling Harbour, while passing by the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM) and Sydney Aquarium.

On Thursday 30 March, over 50 AICCM members and allied professionals (archaeologists, engineers, heritage professionals, etc.) met at the ANMM in a room overlooking Pyrmont Bridge. With the slowly setting sun reflected in the glass facade of city buildings as their backdrop, three key members of the $23m project to preserve the bridge spoke. Dr Wayne Johnson (Head of Heritage, Industrial Archaeologist, Place Management NSW) detailed the history and significance of the bridge. David Glasson (Bridge Maintenance, Property NSW) with the help of his handmade scale model described the bridge’s physical fabric and the challenges of maintaining it. Max Panafieu (Project Manager, Marine and Civil Maintenance) outlined the aims and progress of the preservation works.

Preserving Pyrmont Bridge question session with Pyrmont Bridge and the city lights as a backdrop. Image: Emma Hayles.

Pyrmont Bridge scale model built by David Glasson (right), Graeme Curran (centre). Image: Lucas Wingfield.

By the time the presentations had concluded, the sun had set and the lights of the city had begun to glow. Attendees were then ushered from the Museum up to Pyrmont Bridge itself and as a rare privilege they witnessed its opening from a unique perspective, standing on its swing span. Graeme Curran, the Bridge Driver that evening, opened the bridge cabin for our inspection. The Pyrmont Bridge Hotel welcomed us to their Bridgeview function room for refreshments and conversation as a conclusion to the evening.

Attendees on the swing span of Pyrmont Bridge. Image: Judy Kim.


Special thanks to Wayne, David and Max for presenting and Graeme for driving the bridge. Additional thanks to the ANMM for allowing us to use their facilities and to Agata Rostek-Robak, Emma Hayles and Judy Kim for their help on the night. This event was only possible with the support of Silvia Da Rocha (NSW President) and the AICCM NSW Division. Stay tuned to AICCM announcements to be sure not to miss the Division’s next exciting activity.