Have you ever seen the big wheels on the river foreshore near Martin Bridge at Taree? Have you ever wondered what they were used for? If you read on, you will learn about the history of Martin Bridge.
The bridge was opened on Friday 17 May 1940 by the NSW Premier.1 It was originally called the ‘Manning River Bridge’ but after the death of well-known citizen, L. O. Martin in 1944, the bridge was renamed the ‘Martin Bridge’ in his honour.2 The bridge used to have two towers with a span in between which would lift to allow shipping vessels through to Tinonee and Wingham. The wheels played a vital part in operating the lift span.3
Before the bridge was built, a punt (ferry) carried people across the river from Glenthorne to Pulteney Street, Taree.4 If you look closely you will notice a big fig tree on either side of the river. Rumour has it that Mr McLennan planted the fig tree on the Glenthorne side to provide shade for his children. Today the fig trees are the only markers of where the punts used to dock.
When the bridge opened in 1940, businesses closed their doors between 11 am and 1 pm to watch the opening ceremony. It is reported that over 6000 people attended.5 After the bridge was officially opened a huge crowd walked across it. In 2015, Taree celebrated the 75th year of the bridge’s opening by recreating the walk across the bridge.6 For the citizens of Taree, the bridge is a special part of their lives.
Author: Lachlan Prowse and Jackson Barr, Year 6, Taree West Public School.
1 Northern Champion,18 May 1940.
2 Wingham Chronicle and Manning River Observer, 16 May 1944, 1.
3 Northern Champion,18 May 1940.
5 Northern Champion,22 May 1940, 4.
6 Manning River Times,18 May 2015, https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/3085187/martin-bridge-75th-anniversary-galleries/