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Talk: The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridges

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Hawkesbury Regional Museum

8 Baker Street

Windsor, NSW 2756

Australia

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Author Bill Phippen will talk about the Hawkesbury Railway bridges, wonders of engineering, and the subject of his new book, published by the Australian Railway Historical Society. Entry is free, refreshments will be served, and copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing by the author.

The 1889 bridge was one of the largest in the world at the time, and had the deepest foundations of any bridge in the world. It even made the cover of Scientific American! The fact that it was built in remote Australia after being fabricated in Scotland and assembled by just a few American engineers using local labour was pretty amazing.

The technology for the 1946 bridge was more established, but the fact that it was all done completely ‘in-house’, during the crisis years of the Second World War while there was every expectation that the old one might cease to be useable at all at any day, made the story of its construction even more amazing.

For both bridges the flotation of the huge steel spans from their place of manufacture on the shoreline to their mid-river destination was civil engineering at its most spectacular.

Bill's book provides a fascinating and comprehensive history, of great interest to historians, engineers, rail fans and the wider public.

About the Author

Bill Phippen graduated in Civil Engineering from Sydney University in 1976. Bill was elected to the Founding Board of Technical Aid to the Disabled, where he served continuously until 2017, including as President from 1996 until 2012. In 2013 Bill was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to people with disability, and to the community. In 2010 he was named as New South Wales Senior Volunteer of the Year and by the Sydney Morning Herald as one of the 100 most influential people in Sydney. In 2013 Engineers Australia named Bill as one of the 100 most influential engineers in Australia on the basis of his work with TAD, and invited him to be a Fellow of that Institution. Bill is a member of the Engineers Australia Sydney Division Heritage Committee.

Bill first became interested in writing a book about the subject in 2010, when he took up the job of Railway Resource Centre manager, and found five albums of construction photos of he second bridge. Until then he didn’t know much about the bridge. The discovery of some 1889 photograph albums in the Library of Congress in Washington in 2014 really made the thought of publishing them quite attractive. He also located an engineer’s scrapbook in Kansas City, a works diary in Hornsby Library, and boxes of papers at NSW State Archives.

Terms and conditions:

  • Children under 10 must be accompanied by an adult.
  • Your attendance may be digitally recorded through photographs, and images used to promote the museum and its programs. By attending you agree to these terms. If you do not wish your image (or the image of your child) to be published, please notify staff before the event.
  • If you are unable to attend please cancel your tickets as soon as possible. This will enable others to participate in the programme.



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Hawkesbury Regional Museum

8 Baker Street

Windsor, NSW 2756

Australia

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