printer friendly

The Narrows

From the earliest days of settlement, suggestions for bridging the River at the Narrows were advanced, but generally dismissed. In 1849 for instance, the editor of the Perth Gazette scoffed that the proposal to erect a bridge or communication between "the mill point and the opposite shore under Mount Eliza" was:

"A scheme so ridiculous and extravagant that it could never be entertained for one moment, save by the most inveterate theorist. For the execution of any such work, where are the funds to be found? And even if these were forthcoming, there are many plans of much more general utility, which claim the first attention." [59]

Bridge under construction. Battye Library [004177D]

As the population in the South Perth district increased, there were calls for dredging of the River around the jetties to enable access by larger steamers as well as access across the Narrows. Nothing further was done about the bridge at this time and although there were attempts to establish a pontoon ferry service for vehicles across the narrows from as early as 1910, it was not until the late 1920s and early 1930s that the various options for crossing the river at Perth were more seriously considered. In 1940 the South Perth Road Board called for action to deal with the increasing traffic on the old, very inadequate and increasingly dangerous Causeway, still the only crossing for vehicles between North Fremantle and Belmont.

Investigations concluded that another bridge was needed as in peak periods, the Causeway was already operating with a traffic density approaching capacity and in the next 10 years the estimated growth in population south of the river would be 100,000. The building of the Narrows bridge was no longer a long range proposal, its need was seen as urgent and Cabinet approved its construction in August 1954. In late 1954 boring rigs commenced work to test the nature of the river bottom at the Narrows site and reclamation work was commenced.

Bridge completed. Battye Library [216863PD]

In July 1956 tenders were called in the United Kingdom and Europe and the successful tender from Christiani and Nielsen of Denmark, in association with J.O. Clough and Son of Perth was accepted in March 1957. The first of a series of permanent piles was driven through around 60 feet of mud to an average depth of 110 feet below water level in August 1957 and the project was opened on 13 November 1959, a few months’ delay caused by the nature of the site.

In 2001, a second bridge was opened to the west of the original Narrows Bridge to cope with increased traffic volumes. This bridge looks almost identical, but the construction technique was quite different.

Narrows Bridge, 2009.
Sue Graham-Taylor

In 2007, a third bridge was opened, this one filling a small gap between the 1959 and 2001 bridges and carrying the railway line to Mandurah.

Share this page   share on Facebook share on Twitter share on stumbleupon

Page last updated: Tuesday 23 November 2010 by Nick Cowie Asset ID 13136
Editors for this page nick 2nd account


Please note: The content on this website is made available for archival purposes and may not meet the State Library of Western Australia's current standards for web accessibility, mobile device compatibility, historical accuracy and cultural sensitivity.