Bridge Length: 369m
Bridge Width: 10m
Construction Dates: 1902
Designer: Percy Allan
Construction Company: Bridges Branch of NSW Public Works Department
Minimum navigation clearance height: 7m
Navigational clearance width: 21.5m
The Pyrmont Bridge is one of the world's oldest surviving electrically operated swingspan bridges. The first bridge began operating in 1857 and the current swingspan bridge opened in 1902. The bridge provided the main transport route between the city and Sydney's growing western suburbs while the swingspan allowed tall vessels to access Darling Harbour.
Pyrmont Bridge was designed by engineer Percy Allan, and consists of a steel truss swingspan with timber truss approach spans. Timber was used because of the high cost of iron and steel and government insistence on using local ironbark to reduce costs.
At the time using electricity to operate the swingspan was considered advanced as almost all swing bridges were operated by winches, steam or hydraulic power. The electrification of Sydney's trams provided both power and technology as needed. The Ultimo Power House, now the Powerhouse Museum, was nearby, and tram motors, modified with appropriate gearing, were suitable to drive the swingspan.
During the 1900s, the growth of international trade saw the introduction of large container ships and the southern end of Darling Harbour became less commercially viable as a trading port. The area gradually fell into decline, freight services were moved and the railway goods yards were closed in 1984.
When Darling Harbour was redeveloped in 1988, Pyrmont Bridge's swingspan was restored and a new addition, the Monorail, was built above it (this was removed in 2014). Pyrmont Bridge is a key piece of engineering heritage and the swingspan has opened more than 600,000 times in its lifetime.