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The Low Level Bridge, 1898-1909

Fremantle has had arguably five road bridges crossing the Swan River, two of which remain. A new one is now (2020) planned.

High Level Bridge aka North Fremantle Bridge 1866-1909

Low Level Bridge, 1898-1909

Renovated High Level Bridge, 1909-1939/1947
Fremantle Traffic Bridge, 1939-
Stirling Bridge, 1974-

Hutchison 1991:
In 1908 a second, 'temporary', bridge was erected across the river to North Fremantle to cope with increased traffic, upstream of the existing convict-built bridge, at a lower level and without a high central arch. The two bridges became known as the high-level and low-level bridges. The original bridge was closed to all but pedestrians and was to be replaced with a wider bridge with a swinging span to allow for high-masted boats. When the tramway was extended to North Fremantle the low-level bridge proved to be at an awkward angle. Examination of the old bridge showed that 306 of its 319 piles were in original condition. The bridge was reconditioned and its central hump removed. The low-level bridge was dismantled in 1909, but the original bridge survived until the 1930s. (Fremantle Advertiser, 25.9.30, p.1) Hutchison, David 1991, History of the Port of Fremantle with Emphasis on Victoria Quay, part of the volume Victoria Quay and Its Architecture, Its History and Assessment of Cultural Significance, City of Fremantle.

The Low Level Bridge just after opening, in 1898. Photo courtesy Fremantle City Library.

The second bridge was built 1896-8 just downstream of the first and called the Low Level Bridge; 1905 photo. Next photo also 1905.

The hump backed bridge (1866) and the temporary bridge (1897) over the Swan River. Construction of the hump backed bridge started in 1863, using convict labour. An average of 48 men, 28 of whom worked in chain gangs breaking stone, were employed on the bridge. Captain Grain, RE and James Manning, Clerk of Works were responsible for the construction. The temporary bridge was built by David Law in 1879 and opened to traffic on 31.08.1880. Photo c. 1900, #4667.


The Low Level Bridge was wider and stronger but much lower. It was required by the increased commercial traffic mostly as a result of gold discoveries. It was, however, not suitable for the tramway which Councils wished to extend to North Fremantle in 1908. (photo 1907, Battye Library)

bridges 1906

The two bridges in 1906. Photo from Hitchcock: 95, credited to Nixon.

The Renovated High Level Bridge was a renovation of the original bridge so extensive that it is considered to be a third bridge. It was opened 18 June 1909 and the Low Level Bridge was closed and then demolished.
The photo shows the Renovated High Level Bridge with two traffic lanes and the tramway on the eastern side, and the Low Level Bridge in the process of demolition.
North Fremantle seen from the south side of the river, with the temporary bridge (1898) in the process of demolition. A tram is crossing on the upstream side and there are some derelict barges in the river. The Swan Hotel (1888) is on the extreme left past the end of the bridge. A postcard made for the Fremantle News Agents' Association. Photo # 2193, c. 1909.

References and Links

Fowler, Audrey 1974, Notes on the oldest traffic bridge in Fremantle, the newsletter of the Fremantle Society, March.

Garry Gillard | New: 27 June, 2020 | Now: 11 December, 2023