Argumentative Arches

Bridging the Macquarie River by Rail

These six wrought iron arches are disused and laying flat now but, back in the 1870s, they were part of a rail bridge that caused John Whitton a big headache.

Whitton was Engineer in Chief of NSW Government Railways and was tasked with building the train line from Sydney to Bathurst. At the time, spending on railways was at a minimum and Whitton needed to cut costs. He wanted to terminate the line at Kelso, a few kilometres from Bathurst so his budget would not need to stretch to cover the costs of an expensive bridge over the Macquarie River.

But the locals were determined that the railway should extend into Bathurst and, in 1870, sent a delegation to lobby the government. They had already spent over a decade arguing for a railway to connect them with the ‘metropolis’ of Sydney. A line that finished short of their town was unacceptable.

Whitton and the NSW Government managed to delay the decision about the terminus for another few years but finally, with a change of government, a Bill passed in 1872 to construct the line all the way to Bathurst.

By 1876, the bridge over the Macquarie River was completed with these arches on top, and the line from Sydney to Bathurst officially opened. Whitton must have breathed a sigh of relief.