Ex­hi­bi­tion shows early his­tory

Manjimup-Bridgetown Times - - Times News - Karen Hunt

THE Black­wood River is the fo­cus of an ex­hi­bi­tion at Bridgetown’s Old Gaol at Hamp­ton Street.

“It’s about the river, the bridges, or­chards, any­thing re­lat­ing to the Black­wood,” His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety pres­i­dent Patricia Hig­gott said.

The town’s early for­tunes were heav­ily re­liant on the river’s ups and downs and cross­ing it was a chal­lenge for set­tlers.

“Be­fore the bridges there used to be a place called Austin Ford which was just down from Ford House and that was where they used to cross the river,” Mrs Hig­gott said.

“And of course when it was flooded they were stuck so that’s when they started the first bridge.”

Ac­cord­ing to Fran Tay­lor’s “Bridgetown: The early years”, set­tlers first pe­ti­tioned the Gov­ern­ment to build a bridge in 1861.

A.W. For­rest, be­lieved to be the fa­ther of Sir John, ar­rived to start work on a bridge on April 13, 1862, but the first struc­ture was swept away by floods be­fore it could be used.

There have been four bridges over the years since.

Mrs Hig­gott said to her knowl­edge the present road bridge, which dates from 1981, is the State’s long­est jar­rah bridge.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is open ev­ery Satur­day from 10am to 2pm at the Old Gaol.

Dat­ing from 1888, this pho­to­graph shows the third bridge built over the Black­wood River in Bridgetown.

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