Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter-Glory Days June 2012 Contents NUMBER 1 HSC RESU LT S IN 2011
for the Newcastle and Hunter Region (includes independent and government schools)
P 4934 2444 www.hvgs.nsw.edu.au
STOCKTON BRIDGE OPENS: NOVEMBER, 1971
“A party of workmen from South Wallsend and a team of
sightseers from Maryville were the ﬁrst members of the public to
drive on to Stockton Bridge . . .”.
That’s the ﬁrst sentence from The Newcastle Herald ’s front-
page report of Tuesday, November 2, 1971, recording the
opening of the $6.5 million Stockton Bridge by the NSW
Premier, Robert Askin, who cut a blue ribbon and unveiled a
plaque in front of about 600 invited guests and 300 members
of the public.
Designed to have an appearance of “graceful lightness”,
according to the speciﬁcations of the Department of Main
Roads, the historic bridge opening had been a long time
coming for Newcastle as numerous attempts to get state
governments interested in a harbour bridge had fallen on deaf
ears. That was until the 1955 Hunter ﬂoods silted the harbour
and stopped the vehicular ferries for more than three months,
leaving the only road link between Newcastle and Stockton the
48km drive via Hexham.
Described at its opening as having “simple yet pleasing lines”
and “not having a heavy looking arch like that of the Sydney
Harbour Bridge, nor thick stone pylons like those supporting
the Hawkesbury rail bridge”, the bridge was “a welcome
contrast to the monotony of the ﬂat, reclaimed mudﬂats on
the Kooragang side and the low, scrub-covered sandhills of the
Surprisingly, the coming of the bridge was opposed by many
people in Stockton, who thought it might be the death of the
town, while others forecast it would lead to a major land boom
north of the harbour.
After the ribbon was cut at the opening a parade of nine
ofﬁcial cars made a slow crossing while many of the ofﬁcial
gathering walked to the centre of the 3358 ft bridge (at the
time the second-longest bridge in NSW behind the Sydney
Harbour Bridge) to take in the view.
At a marquee set up under the bridge, girls employed by the
Department of Main Roads handed guests ﬁve-inch (12.7cm)
sections of the cut blue ribbon inscribed in gold lettering
“Stockton Bridge over the North Channel of the Hunter River –
Ofﬁcial Opening, Monday, 1st November, 1971.”
In an example of nothing much changes, Askin told guests
there had been “one or two uninformed suggestions” that
the state government had neglected Newcastle, but said
“Newcastle is the strong right arm of NSW. No government in
its right senses would do anything to weaken that arm through
lack of attention”. He cited the bridge as an example of the
government’s concern and said it was an impressive symbol of
the growth of the region.
Arthur Wade, MLA, said he was sorry a westerly wind wasn’t
blowing during the ceremony “as it would have shown all the
ofﬁcials present, particularly those from the state government,
what a pollution nuisance is caused at Stockton, one of the best
residential areas in Newcastle.”
The long road to the bridge began after the ‘55 ﬂoods when
the then Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Ald Frank Purdue, called
a meeting on May 12 where the Newcastle Harbour Crossing
Committee was formed.
32. 'Graceful Lightness'
crosses the waters
At the bridge opening the secretary of
the former Newcastle Harbour Crossing
Committee said the committee still had
$11 to $12 in its bank balance.
It was decided it should be donated to the
Stockton Olympic Pool fund.
The “graceful lightness” of Stockton
Bridge, top, the opening day, centre, and
the last car to leave the Koondooloo,
bottom. Right, the Lurgurena crosses
the harbour in 1960.
Links Archive Hunter Our Backyard June 2011 Navigation Previous Page Next Page