Completed in 1886, Meadowbank Rhodes Railway Bridge is amongst the oldest surviving colonial railway bridges in New South Wales.
It was constructed during a period of railway expansion overseen by Engineer-in-Chief John Whitton, known as the ‘father of New South Wales railways’.
The bridge was typical of late nineteenth century bridge construction using iron lattice girders and is an interesting example of a prefabricated structure. The parts were fabricated by Andrew Handyside and Company in Britain, shipped to Australia and then erected by local contractor Amos Bros. in 1886.
The bridge was an important part of the railway infrastructure which linked Sydney and Newcastle. Ultimately, the link connected northern New South Wales and Queensland railways to southern New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. At the time the growing railway network was seen as a symbol of the emerging federation of Australia.
The bridge was decommissioned in 1980, following the completion of the John Whitton Bridge, and in April 2000 reopened as a cycle and pedestrian path.
The first railway line between Sydney and Parramatta opened in 1855. Originally there were only four stations: Newtown, Ashfield, Burwood and Homebush. Redmyre Station, which is better known today as Strathfield, was added in 1877.
Rail transport came to the Concord area in September 1886 when the northern line between Strathfield and Hornsby was completed. The first station along the line was at Rhodes. A year later in 1887, Concord Railway Station was opened. In 1909 the name was changed to Concord West. North Strathfield Railway Station was opened in 1919.
The opening of the railway line provided the transport link necessary for the development of industry on the Rhodes Peninsular and at Concord West.
The photograph shows Concord West Railway Station on 16 June 1933, a little before 8.30am. It’s quite a rare thing to be able to date an old photograph quite so precisely!