Tom Uglys Bridge

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Tom Uglys Bridge
Tom ugly bridge.jpg
The Pratt truss spans of the 1929 Tom Uglys Bridge, as viewed from the north
Carries Motor vehicles via six lanes of the Princes Highway (A36), pedestrians and bicycles
Crosses Georges River
Locale Southern Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Owner Roads and Maritime Services
  1. Percy Allan
  2. unknown
Total length
  1. 499 m (1,637 ft)
  2. 570 m (1,870 ft)
Longest span
  1. 69.5 m (228 ft)
  2. 70 m (230 ft)
Number of spans
  1. 9
  2. 9
Constructed by
  1. State Monier Works
  2. unknown
Fabrication by
  1. Lindapter International
  2. unknown
Construction begin
  1. February 1925
  2. unknown
Construction end
  1. 26 April 1929 (1929-04-26)
  2. 17 October 1987 (1987-10-17)
  1. 11 May 1929 (1929-05-11)
  2. 17 October 1987 (1987-10-17)
  1. 1929–1952
  2. no toll
Preceded by Alfords Point Bridge
Followed by Captain Cook Bridge
Heritage status
Replaces Tom Ugly's Punt
Coordinates 34°00′12″S 151°06′48″E / 34.00336111°S 151.1133778°E / -34.00336111; 151.1133778Coordinates: 34°00′12″S 151°06′48″E / 34.00336111°S 151.1133778°E / -34.00336111; 151.1133778
References: [1][2][3][4][5]

The Tom Uglys Bridge that comprise two dual carriageway bridges, completed in 1929 and 1987 respectively, are situated across the Georges River in southern Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia.

The 1929 Pratt truss bridge that is listed on the New South Wales State Heritage Register, is the western–most of the two bridges and carries vehicular traffic on the Princes Highway (A36) northbound via three lanes, together with a shared bicycle and pedestrian pathway. The 1987 concrete box girder bridge is the eastern–most of the two bridges and carries vehicular traffic on the Princes Highway (A36) southbound via three lanes, together with a shared bicycle and pedestrian pathway. The bridges link the St George area at Blakehurst to the Sutherland Shire at Sylvania. The Tom Uglys Bridge is one of three major road crossings of the Georges River.

Tom Ugly's Point ferry[edit]

Twin punts running across the Georges River in 1929.

Tenders were called to construct a punt for Tom Ugly's Point in 1864.[6] A hand operated punt service from Tom Uglys Point to Horse Rock Point commenced.[7]

The ferry service was improved and expanded over the subsequent years. In 1882 a steam-driven ferry was installed, guided by steel cables. It crossed the river in less than ten minutes. The punt was 54 feet (16 m) long and had a 11 feet (3.4 m) wide roadway.[8] It was capable of carrying six horse-drawn vehicles. By 1898 a larger steam-driven ferry began operation. It was capable of carrying one hundred passengers and fifteen vehicles.[7] A new punt capable of carrying 28 vehicles and making the crossing in three minutes was installed in 1922.[9]

By 1929 there were two cable ferries operating, and delays of several hours were experienced on weekends and public holidays.


1929 bridge[edit]

Following a long campaign by local councils and motoring authorities, a New South Wales Government loan to Sutherland Shire Council was used to finance the replacement of one the ferry services across the Georges River.[3] The Bill for the building of a bridge across the Georges River was introduced into New South Wales Parliament in 1923, and the foundation stone for the bridge was laid on 7 June 1924. The funds borrowed by Sutherland Shire Council were to be repaid by a bridge toll once it was opened. The crossing was first opened for traffic on 26 April 1929,[10] and officially opened by the Governor of New South Wales on 11 May 1929 and the bridge was known as the "George's River Bridge".

The 1929 bridge consists of nine steel truss spans forming a total length of 499 metres (1,637 ft);[2][3] with six spans measuring 69.5 metres (228 ft) and three spans measuring 27.4 metres (90 ft).[4] The bridge was designed by Percy Allan who designed many bridges in New South Wales including the Pyrmont Bridge. When the bridge was opened at 499 metres (1,637 ft) it was the longest bridge in Australia.[1]

The toll was collected on the Sylvania side of the bridge by toll collectors who stood on the road. On 31 May 1952 the tolls were removed[3] when the Council had repaid the loan to the NSW Government. The road was one lane in each direction from the 1940s through until the late 1980s. Congestion started to build causing major traffic delays and the New South Wales government decided to build a second bridge.

In 2006, the 1929 steel truss bridge was repainted. The original lead paint was removed using a blasting process and an air extraction system was employed to safely remove airborne particles, protecting the environment as well as the workers.[2]

The 1987 bridge[edit]

A second bridge, which opened on 17 October 1987, was built adjacent to alleviate traffic congestion. Comprising nine spans of three identical steel box girders, composite with a cast-in-place reinforced concrete deck; the major spans are 70 metres (230 ft) in length with end spans of 50 metres (160 ft).[5]

The new bridge was designed to carry four lanes of traffic. During repair work on the 1929 bridge, the 1987 bridge was configured both for one lane northbound and three lanes southbound.

Features of both bridges[edit]

An interesting feature of the bridge complex is that the two bridges veer away from each other; they are less than 20 metres (66 ft) apart at the northern end, and about 100 metres (330 ft) apart at the southern end. Most duplicated bridges are close together (like the dual bridges at Ryde) allowing the form of the road approaches to continue. However, at Tom Uglys Bridge, the Princes Highway (A36) curves around to the left on the northbound approach to the 1929 bridge so this design allows the southbound approach to be much straighter. Between the two bridges is a boat ramp, accessible from the northbound bridge approach. A loop road on the northern side allows drivers travelling south along the Princes Highway (A36) to avoid the bridge and return north along the highway.


Tom Uglys Bridge took its name from the geographical feature at the northern end of the bridge, known as Tom Uglys Point. The point was known as Tom Uglys Point over 80 years prior to the construction of the bridge. At various times the bridge is incorrectly transcribed as Tom Ugly's Bridge.

There are several theories about the origin of the name of the point. All the theories involve a distortion of the name of either a local European or Aboriginal resident of the area. One theory is that it was named after a local resident Tom Huxley and the name was a mispronunciation by local Aborigines.[11] Descendants of Thomas Huxley have concluded that he lived and owned land in the area, however official records do not exist to verify this.[7] An alternative theory is that the name is derived from the name of a local Aboriginal man, Tow-weiry, who lived in the area and died about 1846.[12] Another theory is that there was a local fisherman resident in the area by the name of Tom Illigley.[7] Yet another is that there was a one-legged man, possibly an army deserter or a boat operator, called either "Tom Woggleg" or "Wogul Leg Tom", either because of a mispronunciation of wooden leg, or from the local Aboriginal dialect word for "one".[2][13]

The name was officially adopted to distinguish between the various bridges of the Georges River, after the opening of the Captain Cook Bridge in 1965 and the Alfords Point Bridge in 1973.[14]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Tom Uglys Bridge over the Georges River (1929)". Heritage and conservation register. Roads and Traffic Authority, New South Wales. 16 March 2001. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Tom Ugly's Bridge: Maintenance works". Roads and Traffic Authority, New South Wales (PDF). 
  3. ^ a b c d "Princes Highway - History and Development". Ozroads. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  4. ^ a b "Tom Ugly's Bridge". Structurae. Retrieved 14 June 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Bott, G. J.; Wheeler, W. K. (1984). "Design of the new Tom Uglys Bridge, Sydney". Australian Road Research (Vermont South, Victoria: ARRB Group Limited) 12 (2): 28–41. ISSN 0005-0164. 
  6. ^ "Tenders for Public Works and Supplies". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 9 April 1864. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Kogarah's Heritage No. 2: Tom Ugly's". Kogarah Council. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  8. ^ "Steam Punt for George's River". The Sydney Morning Herald (National Library of Australia). 12 May 1882. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  9. ^ "The Punts: New and Enlarged". The Sydney Morning Herald. 19 April 1922. 
  10. ^ "Bridge over George's River at Tom Ugly's Point opened for traffic". The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 April 1929. 
  11. ^ "Georges River: Tom Uglys Point". The Sydney Morning Herald. 31 January 1931. 
  12. ^ Goodall, Heather; Cadzow, Alison (2009). Rivers and Resilience: Aboriginal People on Sydney's Georges River. UNSW Press. p. 66. 
  13. ^ "Native Nomenclature". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 May 1890. Retrieved 13 September 2010. 
  14. ^ Pollon, Frances, ed. (1990). The Book of Sydney Suburbs. Australia: Angus & Robertson Publishers. p. 118. ISBN 0-207-14495-8. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Tom Uglys Bridge at Wikimedia Commons