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City of Sydney Historical Association

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Upcoming Events

City of Sydney Historical Association (COSHA)

Formed in 2000 with the aim of increasing awareness and appreciation of the history of the City of Sydney, COSHA aims to make our history more accessible.
COSHA regularly organises guided walks, lectures and tours of historic sites and buildings.



2.00 PM Saturday, 14th November

"The building of the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge: Finding the Morse Photo Albums"

Speaker: Bill Phippen

When the Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge was completed in May 1889 it was the last link in a continuous railway network connecting areas north of Brisbane through Sydney and Melbourne to Adelaide and beyond. It was a necessary pre-requisite for federation and Henry Parkes said as much in his speech at the opening. The reason that a structure, almost within the suburbs of Sydney, was the last to be built, on a railway which stretched for thousands of miles, was the immense engineering difficulty of the site. At the time of opening it was an internationally acclaimed wonder, having the deepest foundations of any bridge in the world.

The bridge was built by American contractors, Sam Ryland and Edwin Morse, and they took a scrap book and photo albums of their work home at the end of the job. 125 years later Bill Phippen tracked the albums down in Kansas City and Washington from where a coalition of Sydney groups repatriated high resolution scans of the images and these inspired a book about the whole saga.

Railways enthusiast Bill Phippen talks about the first bridge and the men who built it, and is lavishly illustrated with the Library of Congress images and other records.

In 2019 The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridges was recognised by Engineers Australia with the Colin Crisp Award for documentation of engineering heritage.

The required public distancing will be observed. Hand wash available. Sign in required. In consideration for other people we would request that you wear a mask.

Phone: (02) 9799-9030

Venue: Sydney Mechanics School of Arts
280 Pitt Street, Sydney
Admission: $5 (A note if possible)