Exhibition shows early history
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.