Glebe Island Bridge

Glebe Island Bridge Quick Facts
Bridge Type: Swing Bridge
Bridge Length: 108m
Bridge Width: 15.2m
Construction Dates: 1899-1903
Designer: Percy Allan
Construction Company: Bridges Branch of NSW Public Works Department

Length of abutments: 24.7m each
Navigation clearance when closed: 4.7m
Navigational clearance when open: 18.3m each side


The first Glebe Island Bridge constructed only 20yrs after Sydney was officially declared a city providing the first links to the inner west; and was the second bridge related to the Five Bridges project that facilitated access from the city to the expanding suburbs of the north and west. Prior to this the only access to the northern shore of the Harbour was by boat, punt or by road via Parramatta

The location of the bridge took advantage of a shorter route out of the city across Johnstons Bay to the Glebe Island and on to Annandale. The bridge was an important item of infrastructure in the history of Sydney for over 90 years; and is closely associated with the economic and social development of Sydney at the end of the 19th Century.

The Glebe Island Bridge was an electrically operated, low-level, steel central wingspan road bridge. The central swing-span is supported by a massive pivot pier, founded on a nest of timber piles capped by concrete, on which it can rotate through ninety degrees to allow passage of maritime traffic. The approach spans are two steel decks on stone-faced piers and stone-lined abutments. The bridge includes constructed embankments on both sides of its western approach.

The bridge had an approach span at each end of 24.7m, two main spans of 29.3m and an overall length of 108m. The roadway was 12.2m wide between kerbs and had a 1.5m wide footway on each side. The central pivot in the waterway is protected by an extensive ring of timber piles. The swing span is mounted on a steel roller track on the cylindrical stone masonry and concrete pivot pier (13.9m high and 12.9m wide) and is swung by means of a 600 volt motor. Traffic was controlled by lights and a pair of timber swing-gates on either end, which were electronically interlocked to ensure that the bridge couldn’t open until the gates are closed. (The bridge was electrically operated and could swing in 44 seconds, much faster than contemporary bridges in the world).

The bridge was decommissioned in 1995 on the completion of the ANZAC Bridge.

This project couldn't have happened without the support from the following organisations