Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Virginia Bridge

Text Box: c. 1920The Gawler River forms a natural boarder to the City of Playford. Following colonial settlement there was a need to cross these natural water courses. In summer it was a dry channel, but when it flooded and in the rainy season it was no unusual thing to see the river overflow.

It was important to construct a suitable bridge that would allow farmers to cross with their produce and regular travellers.  There appeared to be a structure in place before 1869, but was in poor condition.  In 1865 a farmer crossing on his horse fell through the planking. The horse was fine and had to be lifted out with ropes.

The Virginia Bridge is built over the Gawler River, in the line of the north-west branch of the North road, at a spot known as ' Fisher's Crossing,' about two miles north of Virginia township, hence the name.  The river it this spot is exactly 100 feet wide, the banks flat or rather falling from the river. 
The Central Road Board designed a bridge with three huge laminated arches looking like water wheels.    Mr Macaulay recommended a bowstring bridge, with two roadways, supported at each end on piles. The Board having approved or the design, tenders were invited, and Mr. Pitman obtained the contract.

Six piles are driven in double rows at each end of the bridge, giving a clear waterway or 100 feet. Upon the heads of each row of piles a timber cap is placed. Upon these caps rests the bridge itself; and perhaps there is no bridge in the colony in which so little material has been used in the framework or skeleton as in this.
The trusses, three in number, are composed of an arc or bow, having a versed sine of 10 feet, fitted at each end into iron sockets, which are bolted down to a stringer or the beam.  At intervals of seven feet, uprights are placed, tenured at the one end into the stringer, and at the other into the arc. Wrought-iron tie-rods pass through these uprights, and are screwed up on the under side of the stringer.  A strong handrail is introduced between the uprights which acts in a double capacity, namely, as a protection to the traffic, and also greatly increasing the stiffness of the truss.

Each are is built of three-inch planks 11 inches in width. The middle rib is composed of eight layers ; the two outside ones of seven ; thus giving a total sectional area of five superficial feet (that of the Gumeracha Bridge is nine feet). The platform of the bridge consists of a double layer of three-inch planks laid diagonally and crossing each other at right angles.
The Bridge was officially opened by Mr. Thompson, Secretary of the Central Board of Main February 1858. Mr. Thompson arrived, with the contractor, Mr. Jacob Pitman, and Mrs. Pitman, in one of Mr. Rounsevell's carriages and four.  They were met on the ground by the Superintending Surveyor, Mr. Macaulay, and the Clerk of the Works, Mr. Samuel Wastell.  After testing the bridge with various loads of corn.  The Secretary, in the name of the Board, then christened the Bridge the ' Virginia Bridge.'   Three cheers were given for the Queen ; three more for the contractor; and three more for the Superintending Surveyor.

It wasn’t long before it began to show signs of weakness.  In a short time £2800 was spend on repairs.
By 1863, complaints were written in the newspaper about the state of the bridge.  £99 had been spent repairing the bridge that year.  A petition signed by users of the road had been sent into the Central Road Board requesting repair.

A new bridge was opened in 1869 to replace the rickety, tumble down structure previously in use.    At 12 noon a large party gathered, inspecting and commenting on its appearance.
The total span between the masonry abutments is 122 feet, but two wets of piers have been erected on each side of the water way. The piers are 8-inch cylinder, and the work of Messrs. Martin and Co., and support cast iron transvers girders turned out by Mellor Bros., of Adelaide. The bridge has taken nearly 12 months to construct.

The guests almost 300 were present to witness the opening ceremony.  The honour of christening the bridge was assigned to Miss Elizabeth Ridgway, who is the oldest native born lady in the neighbourhood.
Miss Ridgway made her way to the centre of the bridge, and, taking a bottle of wine in her hand, said — ' In the name of the great Architect of the universe, to whom be the praise and glory, I name this bridge the Virginia Bridge, and declare it to be open for public traffic.'  She then broke the bottle on the bridge, and three hearty, cheers were raised for Her Majesty the Queen. Mr. Bright, M.P., then advanced and formally declared the bridge open, after which cheers for Miss Ridgway and Miss Morris were given.

An adjournment was then at once made for lunch.
About 50 gentlemen sat down to a cold collation placed upon the table in excellent style by Host Mallyon of the Wheatsheaf Inn, Virginia.

Numerous toasts were given before the guests left at 4 o'clock, the Adelaide gentleman departed for town amid cheers. The festivities were, however, kept up by a ball in Mallyon's big room. Altogether a pleasant day was passed.
In 1923, the Automobile Association of SA declared the bridge unsafe for vehicles over one ton.

The banks fo the river near the bridge was a popular picnic place. Mr Ridgway who owned property near the bridge was often asked by groups to use his land.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Pin Playford Project

Pin Playford Project

We wear badges to show support or belonging to an organisation or cause, to commemorate a special event, as a sign of identification or even a symbol of authority. We buy them as souvenirs, or as a charity fundraiser. They become a snapshot of time for any community. 

The City of Playford Local History team is looking to start its own badge collection. Badges are just one way to document and learn about a community’s history. 

If you are willing to donate a badge that has a connection to the City of Playford, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact the Local History Officer on 8256 0382, or drop it into the Elizabeth Civic Library.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Hillbank homestead

Scammell's Homestead" c.1890 – mesmerizing sandstone return verandah estate of sprawling proportions, sited on 1,880sqm (approx.) This is how the real estate agent has described the homestead which is currently up for sale. It is known as the Scammell homestead such named as it was owned by the family for 30 years. The Scammell family is of course well known for managing F.H Faulding & Co.

Alice E. Scammell purchased the property in 1931. Alice Elizabeth Scammell nee Fuller married Robert Gray Scammell. Robert was the son of Luther Robert Scammell, the managing director of F.H Faulding & Co (Chemists) since 1889 until his death in 1940. Robert was also a managing director of Faulding’s with his brother.

The 300 acre property was called “Hillbank”, where sheep and peas were grown. The land was subdivided and laid out as Hillbank by the Scammell family in 1961.

Previous to this, George Sheerlock of Hindmarsh received the original land grant in 1848. In 1867 it was sold to EA Wright an Adelaide land agent. He sold it the following year to Thomas Williams who leased the property to William B. Wall and later John H Loftes of One Tree Hill, then James P. Martin of Gawler. In 1895 it was purchased by William H Johnson and G.L Johnson. In 1903 Lisle G. Johnson of Adelaide purchased it until 1907 when Sydney Charles Harrington purchased in. It remained with home until 1925 when Ernest James Hum of Adelaide purchased it. He only had it three years before William Snell of Salisbury purchased it in 1928.

You can view the house for sale here

Monday, November 14, 2016

Miss Quests

The Lions Club of Elizabeth organised the Miss Elizabeth Quest as part of the Elizabeth Birthday celebrations.  They also added to the quest a section for Miss Charity, who raised money for local charities.  Miss Quests were all the rage in the 1960's, in addition there were Quests for Miss Industry, Miss Rugby, Miss Texas Instruments, Miss Elizabeth Princess.
Miss Industry Quest, Louise Appels 1965
Miss Texas Instruments, Ann Bain and Mrs K. Allen

Miss Elizabeth Princess, Ruth Watts
Miss Rugby, 1964, Julia Bourne
being crowned by Rev Howell Witt

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Charles Melvin King

Charles Melvin King, lost his life 100 years ago today.

 Named after his father, Charles Melvin was born on 15 July 1892. He was registered as “Charlie” in Virginia. His parents were Charles King and Alice Ann Menadue. His father was a teamster and built many roads in the area. Charlie was educated at the Virginia Public school.

Charles Melvin was 23 years old when he enlisted on 4 August 1915. Charles had spent one year in the Citizen Forces. 

Charles sailed on the Oriana arriving at Alexandria on 21 March 1916 and then onto Marseilles, France. He developed influenza and was transferred to no.6 Convalescent Depot. Upon recovery he joined the 1st ANZAC Entrenching Battalion. He remained fighting there until he was killed in action on 5th November 1916.

The Battalion formed in La Motte, France on 6 June 1916. Entrenching battalions were advanced sections of the base depots where drafts could become inured to war conditions. For a time, all infantry reinforcements were drawn from this unit. Heavy losses at Pozieres in July through September 1916 caused all the infantry to be absorbed by fighting units and the entrenching battalion ceased to be employed this way. It then absorbed surplus tunnelling reinforcements and served as a tunnelling company with the Canadians at St Eloi, The Bluff and The Ravine (near Ypres). The battalion was disbanded on 20 October 1917.

In August 1917 his mother wrote that she was disappointed to receive only a few old letters and his pay book when his effects were sent to her. She then wrote that her son’s father was still alive and that the medals, scroll and plaque were to be sent to him at the same address.

Charlie was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He is commemorated on the Villers Bretonneux Memorial.

The following year his parents and sister inserted a notice in the Chronicle newspaper.

This is the day, so sad to recall,
This is the day of remembrance to all;
Dear is the grave where our dear one is laid,
Sweet is the memory that will never fail.

His brother inserted;

He sleeps till the last roll call
Along with the brave.
Too dearly loved to be forgotten

His sister, H E Roberts inserted

From memory’s page time can’t blot
Three little words, forget me not.

Chronicle Saturday 10 November 1917 p 13


Photograph from the Australian War Memorial H06515