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Sydney Transport


Battle over Rozelle and Blackwattle Bay

report formGladesville, Drummoyne (Iron Cove) and Glebe Island Tram Swing Bridges

The following snippets, from STATE RECORDS NSW in particular NRS 13100 Government Transport Correspondence files, 1902-38, provide an insight into the battle between water and rail transport across Rozelle Bay and Blackwattle Bays. These items were accessed at the Western Sydney Records Centre in Kingswood on 18 January 2013.

"Proposed Cheap Railway for Australia - The Carriages to be Drawn by Horses" is "Horse Railway" Item 1333/8 in State Records NSW Series 17420 (container 39).

The context for this image could have been in the Railway Commissioners justifying the 1912 construction of the White Bay power station, to electrify the extensive Sydney Rail and Tram network. By 1885, the tram network was being powered by Steam rather than horse and tram carhorses.

The electricity to the Glebe Island Bridge came from the Power Station at Ultimo (now the Powerhouse Museum). See reference to Ultimo Power House below.

Installation of Electro-Mechanical Interlocking on Glebe Island Bridge

From NRS 13100 Government Transport Correspondence files, 1902-38
viewed 18 Jan 2013 at State Records NSW Western Sydney)

Government Tramways Circular No 8, Glebe Island Bridge, Catchpoints out of order: To Electric Drivers advising that the interlocking gear operating the catch points at Glebe Island Bridge will be out of use and Flagmen will be stationed at the wedged over catch points at either end of the swing span. The Circular goes on to describe the signals the flagmen will use. (IMG_0474.JPG )

Cover note to Depot Manager, Rozelle to circulate attached Circular No 8 to Drivers attached to their depot and that the circular will be appear in Weekly Notice no. 32. (IMG_0473.JPG)

3 August 1911: Circular about Catchpoints out of order (IMG_0472.JPG)

12 October 1911: Interlocking Engineer informs Traffc Superintendent the installation of electric switches for bridge bolting have been completed and were brought into use 4.45pm 11 Oct 1911.(IMG_0471.JPG,IMG_0470.JPG)

1 Aug 1912: Confimring verbal direction that Treble set of pointsmen to be stationed at Glebe Island Bridge until further notice. To cover the time the Interlocking Engineer is altering and adjusting equipment attached to the signals and trap points. (IMG_0470.JPG)

3 aug 1911: From traffic sup to depot master rozelle catchpoints out of order (IMG_0469.JPG)

3.9.11: Government Tramways Circular No 8 – Glebe Island Bridge Catch Points out of order to electric drivers(IMG_0467.JPG, IMG_0468.JPG)

Weekly Notice No 32 5.8.11: Glebe Island Bridge Catch Points out of order(IMG_0466.JPG)

6.1.10 (or perhaps 6.1.30):Extra windows fitted, brakes – when will work be done (IMG_0465.JPG)

Balmain Drummoyne, and mutton's flat lines via Harris Street route, and via Forest Lodge route.(IMG_0464.JPG)

2 July 1910: request from Traffic Sup to John Storey MLA, Parliament House for a meeting re opening of tram service and line to balmain(IMG_0462.JPG,IMG_0463.JPG)

8 July 1910: interlocking engineer to traffic sup suggesting police or tram staff operate catchpoints as given the traffic it would not be possible to keep them clean and in good operation(IMG_0461.JPG)

9 Jul 1910: From Kneeshaw Traffic Sup to Wilkin, interlocking engineer – not seeing how it would be possible for attendant to work catchpoints. They would not be effective unless interlocked someway with the bridge. He does not like the idea of abandoning catch points.(IMG_0460.JPG)

New Tramline (Harris Street, Pyrmont to Evans Street, Balmain)

16 Aug 1910: working of swing span and signals for Harris Street, Pyrmont to Evans Street, Balmain tramway – Glebe Island and Drummoyne bridges(IMG_0459.JPG,IMG_0458.JPG,IMG_0457.JPG)

2.9.10: Harris Street to Evans Street tramway extension safe working arrangements glebe island bridge (IMG_0456.JPG)

2.9.10: from WJ Hanna, Sec Railway Dept to Public works dept advising their staff will have no problems operating the bridge however, they require a set of operating instructions to be forwarded.(IMG_0455.JPG)

7.9.10: contingency plans for operating bridge in event catchpoints are not electrically operated (IMG_0452.JPG, IMG_0453.JPG, IMG_0454.JPG)

15 sep 1911: Harris-Evans street tram line – in the event that the catchpoints aren't electrically controlled from the tower on the swing span on glebe island bridge then attached instructions to be issued – signed john kneeshaw traffic superintendent(IMG_0450.JPG,IMG_0451.JPG)

26 Sep 1910: note from traffic sup to sec ref to attached papers and direction that catch points should be operated by hand till such time as arrangements can be made for them to be electrically connected(IMG_0449.JPG)

27 Sep 1910: note to secretary from traffic sup to forward copy of regulation for working glebe island bridge to public works dept(IMG_0448.JPG)

Catch Points and Signals, Glebe Island Bridge: The Clebe Island Bridge has a swing spane which is opened to allow vessels to pass and in order to protect the Tramway Traffic, Catch Points and Fixed Signals working in conjunction with the gates across the roadway will be provided. Until further notice, pointsmen will be stationed at the Catch Points at either end of the swing spane who will act under th direction of the Operator in Charge who will advise the Pointsman of his intention to open the swing by one long sound of whistle, which signal must be acknowledge by Pointsman by a whie flag or light..../letter from public works dept suggesting amendment(IMG_0446.JPG,IMG_0447.JPG)

8.11.10: Atchison handwriten note – I understand the works dept contemplate handing this line over for traffic at an early date please note instruction to staff to be issued in weekly notice(IMG_0445.JPG)

25.10.10: signals between operators of glebe island bridge(IMG_0444.JPG)

Weekly notice 46 12 nov 1910: Harris and Miller Sts Junction Diagram showing signalling Arrangements (IMG_0443.JPG)

Weekly notice 46 12 nov 1910: Evans and Wston Sts Junction Diagram showing signalling Arrangements(IMG_0442.JPG)

Weekly notice46 12 Nov 1910: telephones, Meal Room Starter's Office etc, Destination Signs, Overhead Line, Chemical Fire Extinguishers(IMG_0441.JPG)

14 Nov 1910: Notice re Opening of the Harris Street to Evans Street Balmain Tramway on 14 November 1910. Catch points Glebe Island Bridge, Fixed Signals, Time-Tables, Stopping Places, Running Time & Fares (IMG_0440.JPG)

12 Nov 1910: Weekly notice No 46 Opeing of the Harris Street to Evans Street Balmain Tramway(IMG_0439.JPG)

15.11.10: Memo from Instructor Ultimo to superintendent saying Mr Kendall did not want span watered "owing to the water running down on the pear below the bridge" he has instructed water tanks not to pull any water down while crossing the span – CA Wills (IMG_0438.JPG)

Nov 1910: Draft for weekly notice 352/353(IMG_0437.JPG)

Weekly Notice 47, 19 Nov 1910: Street Watering Ryde Line-Swing Span, Glebe Island Bridge not to be watered. Drivers of water sponklers must not water swing span gleb island bridge. Groove cleaners only are to be used(IMG_0436.JPG)

Weekly Notice 47- 19nov1910: 353Glebe Island Bridge – two cars only to be allowed on swing span. Speed limit of 4miles per hour(IMG_0435.JPG)

22 Aug 1916: letter from Gladesville Progress Association, Morrison Road Galdesville requesting peak our fare restriction and change to opening times of glebe island bridge (IMG_0434.JPG)

ticket machine with dial30 Aug 1916: letter from Hunters Hill Town Clerk/Engineer requesting change to opening times of glebe island bridge and that only tickets for sections 3,4,5 should be issued at peak hours, enclosing letter from gladesville progress association(IMG_0433.JPG)

Page 2 of letter from district super stating that to make changes to opening time of two bridges requires consideration by committee comprising Shipping Companies, Wharf Laborers, Public Carriers and Tramway Department(IMG_0432.JPG)

6.9.16: from Traffic Sup to District Sup regarding req from hunter hill town clerk.."fare request is tantamount to requesting introduction of minimum fare, which they could not recommend"(IMG_0430.JPG,IMG_0431.JPG)

26 Sep 1916: Minutes Tramway Committee - trams delayed by animals from Glebe Abatoir and opening of glebe island bridge required by military dept now referred to Sydney Harbour Trust(IMG_0428.JPG,IMG_0429.JPG)

10 nov 1916: Harbour Trust informs Railways of new opening times for glebe island bridge(IMG_0424.JPG,IMG_0425.JPG,IMG_0426.JPG,IMG_0427.JPG)

8th September 1916: from Traffic Sup to Town Clerk Hunters Hill suggesting they make their request for a change in glebe island bridge opening times to the Sydney Harbour Trust and that their suggestion that only 3rd, 4th, 5th section tickets be issued on the Gladesville and Ryde Lines during peak hours cannot be granted.(IMG_0423.JPG)

16.11.16: Handwritten Filenote that the harbour trust sec has informed the supt DF Atchison that arrangements are being made to enable new times of opening to be brought into operation(IMG_0422.JPG)

13.10.16: Request from Dsuper for report on complaints – letter from traffic sup to sec Harbour Trust Commissioner regarding possibility of change to opening times as a number of complaints have been received(IMG_0419.JPG,IMG_0420.JPG,IMG_0421.JPG)

17/10/1916: District Sup to Ass sup re opening hours Glebe Island Bridge(IMG_0418.JPG)

31Oct1916: memo from traffic superintendent(IMG_0417.JPG)

10 Nov 1916: from sec railways/tramways to harbour trust saying no further changes can be made to opening times(IMG_0416.JPG)

Newspaper article – Gladesville Tram Stop Restored(IMG_0415.JPG)

Weekly Notice No 39, 23,9,19: Glebe Island Bridge Opening Times(IMG_0414.JPG)

NSW Gov Gazette No 216, 15 Dec 1916: regarding control and management of glebe island bridge (IMG_0411.JPG,IMG_0412.JPG, IMG_0413.JPG)

December 1916: letter from secretary of Sydney Harbour Trust to secretary of the chief commissioner of railwasy and tramways forwarding 2 copies of Regulations 292-3 re Glebe Island Bridge made by commissioners tagged for Mr Atchison(IMG_0409.JPG,IMG_0410.JPG)

Approved 9.1.17: draft for weekly notice glebe island bridge hours of opening (IMG_0408.JPG)

Weekly Notice No 3, 1917: Glebe Island Bridge Hours of Opening (IMG_0407.JPG)

8Jun1920: Received from the Tramway Manager 1 log book Nov-May 1910 in relation to opening of swing span at gladesville bridge(IMG_0406.JPG,IMG_0405.JPG)

26 June 1911: Traffic Superintendent forwards to secretary correspondence from CF Bailey, Taylor's Wharf Pyrmont regarding inconvenience of regulations prohibiting the opening of the glebe island bridge. And the need of access of steamers to Darling Harbour and Black Wattle Bay...(IMG_0403.JPG,IMG_0404.JPG)

Follow up from Mr Bailey to Superintendent Tramways on correspondence of 23 June 2011 regarding opening of Pyrmont and Glebe Island Bridges(IMG_0402.JPG)

report form11.8.11: Correspondence from Mr Atchinson of New South Wales Government Railways and Tand Tramays to the Superintendent re delay in response regarding opening of Pyrmont and Glebe island bridges was the ne4ed for consultation with the Sydney Harbour Trust, the Public Works Department and the Harobour masters(IMG_0401.JPG)

Form Letter for £2 fine for travelling on a Tram without a ticket.(IMG_0399.JPG, IMG_0340.JPG)

15 September 1911: Weekly notice 38 Hours of Opening Traffic Superintendant to Mr Mark, Depot Manager, Rozelle). Glebe Island Bridge to be opened for the passage of vessels at any time on any day of the week including Sunday excepting between the hours of 5.30am-6am, 8-9am, 12-12.14pm, 12.45-1.15and 1.45-2pm, 5.45-6.15pm, provided that the Bridge shall be closed at times for alterations and repairs (IMG_0398.JPG)

February 1914: Report of Unusual Occurence: I have to report being delayed 7 minutes at the Glebe Island Bridge on the Above Trip I think the department should make enquires about the delays caused here to traffic. On this occassion the attendant closed the gates when one of Allen Taylor Timber Boats was down the stream below the sugar.(IMG_0396.JPG)

memo1914: NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT RAILWAYS AND TRAMWAYS from the Traffic Inspector Balmain to Tramways Dept Sydney:"Please see the times that the Glebe Island Bridge is closed to shipping: 8am-9am, 12noon-12.15pm, 12.45-1.15, 1.45-2pm, 5.45-6.15pm (img_0395.JPG)

Delays to Traffic and request to be made to Harbour and River Board to extend the time the bridge is closed to 5-6pm rather than 5-5.45pm as there is no passenger traffic from Blackwattle Bay and the current time has cause delay of relief tram from Rawson Place and overloading.(img_0394.JPG)

2 March 1914: Letterhead of Sydney Harbour Trust Office, Circular Quay to the Acting Traffic Superintendant New South Wales Tramways. "I am directed to inform you that the present interval between 5.45pm and 6.15pm was adopted by the Commissioners after careful consideration of the various interests involved, and after consultation with yur Department, and they regret that they cannot see their way to make the suggested alteration (IMG_0392.JPG)

394:RYDE LINE - GLEBE ISLAND, IRON COVE, AND GLADESVILLE BRIDGES- Glebe Island and Galedsville Bridges are provided with swing spans, which are opened to allow vessels to pass, and in order to protect the tramway traffic, Catch Points and Fixed Signals, working in conjunction with the gates across the road, have been provided.
Driverse must exercise care when approaching the swing span.
Not more than one coupled set of car or two single gars are to be allowed on swing span at one time.
Should a car become derailed, the following car must be stopped at least two car lengths back, to allow diabled car to be re-railed. Care mus be exercised to prevent wagon wheels getting into the groove of catch-points.
The girders of Iron Cove and Galdesvills Bridges are close to the lines, and Drivers and Conductors mus exercise care to prevent injury to passengers, and see that no passengers are standing on the footboard nearest the girders.....(IMG_0391.JPG)

Weekly Notice No 34 19 Aug 1911: Glebe Island Bridge- Operation of Swing Span (IMG_0390.JPG)

Handwritten report of delays to trams because Glebe Island Bridge was swung open several times around 5.30pm (IMG_0389.JPG)

Report from Traffic Superintendent to Secretary regarding delays to overcrowded trams due to the opening of the Glebe Island bridge opened for steamer traffic 5.02-5.13 (five vessels), 5.20-5.25 and 5.30-5.36 (IMG_0386.JPG)

21:11:1910: Traffic Blocke Glebe Island Bridge (IMG_0384.JPG)

1.2.11: Glebe Island Bridge closed from 5.12pm to 5.18pm (6 Times) on 31.1.11 (IMG_0380.JPG)

Extract from Shunter's diary Bridge Street) 1.2.11: Inspector harper 7pm Glebe Island bridge opened 4.58to5.4pm, the 4.55pm Rozelle for Railway gates delayed 2 minutes. Also opened 5.34-5.30pm and 5.50-5.55pm No Delay. Drier William R Fraser (IMG_0379.JPG)

2.11: Glebe Island Bridge closed for Trams and Vehicular Traffic (IMG_0378.JPG)

28 Jan 1911: Sydney Harbour Trust have decided to close the bridge to steamer traffic between 5 and 5.30pm and the Trusts Regulations to be amended accordingly. (IMG_0376.JPG)

2/11: Glebe island Bridge closed from 5.8 till 6pm (8 times) (IMG_0375.JPG)

6.2.11: Extract from Shunter's diary Bridge Street Inspector Harper 6.35pm - Glebe Island Bridge Open - Driver James Cannane(IMG_0373.JPG)

Glebe Island Bridge - New South Wales Government Gazette, No 24 [22 Feb 1911]: Regulations framed by the Sydney Harbour Trust Commissioners Under the Sydney Harbour Trust Act 1900 In connection with the Navigation of the Glebe Island Bridge. (IMG_0371.JPG/IMG_0370.JPG)

Weekly Notice No 10. 4 Feb 1911: Glebe Island Bridge Hours for Opening (IMG_0369.JPG )

Weekly Notice No 32, 5 August 1911: GLEBE ISLAND BRIDGE-CATCH POINTS OUT OF ORDER (IMG_0367.JPG)

From Traffic Superintendent asking the Electrical Engineer if they concur with the Interlocking Engineer for agreement to bringing signals into operation on Monday next 15th Inst (IMG_0366.JPG)

Report of Unusual Occurences: Gladesville Bridge lights out on Ryde end of Swing Span (IMG_0365.JPG )

Acknowledgment by the Traffic Superintendant to Mr CF Bailey, Taylor's Wharf, Pyrmont of their communication regarding the opening of the Pyrmont and Glebe Island Bridges (IMG_0364.JPG )

Traffic Engineer asks Interlocking Engineer when they will complete the installation of the interlocking apparatus on Glebe Island Bridge(IMG_0363.JPG)

8 May 1911: Glebe Island Bridge - Joint Report on the Control of the Interlocking System (IMG_0357.JPG-IMG_0362.JPG)

9 May 1911: Electrical Engineer agreeing with the Traffic Superintendent that the Interlocking Engineer and Operator-in-Charge of Bridges have made a slight error in assuming that it is intended to run the interlocking system of the bridge power mains which are directly connected to the Ultimo Power House (IMG_0357.JPG)

Letter from Traffic Superintendent and Electrical Engineer to the secretary requesting they inform the Chief Commissioner that the Interlocking system is ready to be commissioned. However. while the Officer-in-Charge of Bridges should be empowered to disconnect any portion of the system which fails, maintenance should only be carried out by Tramway officers reporting to the Bridge operator.(IMG_0353.JPG-IMG_0355.JPG)

10 May 1911: Instructions for the Guidance of Operators controlling Glebe Island Bridge (IMG_0350.JPG-IMG_0352.JPG)


10 May 1911: From Interlocking Engineer to Traffic Supt, Tramways. In the event of failure of the signal or Interlocking gear, the Signalman at Harris Street should be alerted to inform the Tramway Sectionman on duty.(IMG_0343.JPG)

12 May 1911: Traffic Superintendant advises the Secretary that the Under Secretary for Public Works has concurred with the Regulations for the operation of the Glebe Island Bridge (IMG_0341.JPG)

GLEBE ISLAND BRIDGE DIAGRAM showing Signal Arrangements (IMG_0339.JPG)

Weekly Notice No 20, May 13, 1911: GLEBE ISLAND SWING SPAN operation commencing Monday 15 May 1911 (IMG_0338.JPG)


11 May 1911: Approval of Operation Instructions by Acting Undersecretary Public Works Dept(IMG_0328.JPG))

J. Kneeshaw, Esq., Traffic Superintendent, Tramway Department, 61 Hunter Street (IMG_0327.JPG)

18 May 1911: Interlocking engineer begs to state that the Interlocking pins have not been interfered with and that the claim that they have been removed is utterly without foundation (IMG_0323.JPG)

12 copies of weekly notice no 20 containing regulation for operating Swing span of Glebe Island Bridge to Mr C Kendall, Officer in Charge of Bridges, Pyrmont. (IMG_0323.JPG)

15 May 1911: From Interlocking Engineer to Traffic Superintendent - "In connection with the bringing into use to-day of the electro-mechanical locking devices, which have been provided for the safe working of the Tramways at Glebe Island Bridge, I regret to learn owing to a defective switch arrangement providd by the Electrical Branch that the continuity of the interlocking system is impared and consequently the system is incomplete...(IMG_0319.JPG-IMG_0321.JPG)

Memo signed Interlocking Engineer Chas Wilkin (IMG_0312.JPG)

6 March 1911: Proposed to fix the bolting devices and plunger boxes Sunday next 12 March (IMG_0310.JPG)

6 March 1911: Correspondence from Interlocking Engieer to the Traffic Superintendant, Tramways to request to block traffic across Glebe Island Bridge between 12.30am and 4.30am Sunday next for the fixing of Bolt Devices and Plunger Box.(IMG_0310.JPG)

9 March 1911: EM Smallman, Metropolitan Engineer for Works has made arrangements to block all vehicular traffic to the Glebe Island Bridge and for the provision of an operator to work for the time required to undertake the repairs.(IMG_0308.JPG)

26 July 1910: Acting Electrical Engineer has received no advice regarding installation of Electric Lighting on Drummoyne Bridge and suggest the Traffic Superintendent consult his signalman (IMG_0308.JPG)

The distance between Circular Quay and Rozelle Post Office by the old route is 390 chains. There are 42 stops, the running time is 36 minutes and the speed 10 mies 6 chains per hour. New Route is 367chains, with 39 stops, running time is 34mins and speed 10 mils, 1 chain per hour(IMG_0307.JPG)

Page updated 6 Jan 2019.