A Footbridge of Our Own

In 1962 Ivan Jack Drive was named in honour of one of Wagga’s longest serving mayors.  Prior to this, there was no road connecting Trail Street with the south side of the lagoon. Drivers had a choice of Wollundry Bridge in the main street or Beckwith Street Bridge further west.

A bridge of some sort or another had linked Fitzmaurice and Baylis Streets since the early 1860s.  But as Newtown grew (the area south of the lagoon), the townspeople began to call for another bridge, possibly in Trail Street, for their children to travel safely to school.

newspaper text
The Wagga Wagga Advertiser’s comment on the Municpal’s Council’s proceedings regarding a safer way to cross the lagoon for pedestrians [Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 27 Sept 1873].
In March 1874 the Wagga Wagga Municipal Council called for tenders to build a footbridge joining Simmons Street and The Esplanade.  Charles Redman won the tender with £87/10/- and he managed to finish the new bridge by July. Somewhat unsurprisingly, Redman’s small footbridge did not stand the test of time.

A traffic bridge connecting Beckwith Street with the south was the next bridge project. It was erected in 1880 and served its purpose very well until about 1920. At that time, the people began to question its safety as it had obviously begun to fall into a dangerous condition.

The Beckwith Street Bridge across the Wollundry Lagoon
The Beckwith Street Bridge, prior to its demolition in 1926 [from the Pym Collection, RW2735/22].
This bridge was finally closed in 1926. To replace it, a concrete bridge was built by Hardy and Co. for £5500 and was opened on 19 August 1927 by the Mayor and Mrs Collins, who were the first to cross the bridge in their car.

Around 1900 there were again calls for a footbridge to cross the lagoon from Trail Street.  But it was only in 1920 that it finally happened.  By July the bridge was nearly complete and already it was being used as a shortcut. The Council was very concerned about this – it was not yet lit and handrails were still needed to help people navigate the sloping approaches.  And yet people were riding bicycles across it and even using it to take their ponies to the other side!.

The Trail Street Footbridge, built across the Wollundry Lagoon.
The Trail Street Footbridge, built in 1920 [from the Pym Collection, RW2735/21].
The footbridge was removed in the 1950s and Ivan Jack Drive constructed to finally fully link Trail Street and The Esplanade.

Ivan Jack unveiling the Ivan Jack Drive cairn.
The unveiling of the Ivan Jack Drive cairn on 23 November 1962 by Mr Jack himself [from the Lennon Collection, RW1574/178/659].

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