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Narrows Bridge


City of South Perth

Place Number

There no heritage location found in the Google fusion table.


Perth & South Perth

Location Details

Other Name(s)

Bridge No 953

Local Government

South Perth



Construction Date

Constructed from 1959

Demolition Year


Statutory Heritage Listings

Type Status Date Documents More information
Heritage List Adopted 25 Sep 2018
State Register Registered 23 Apr 1999 Register Entry
Assessment Documentation
Heritage Council

Heritage Council Decisions and Deliberations

Type Status Date Documents
(no listings)

Other Heritage Listings and Surveys

Type Status Date Grading/Management More information
Category Description
Local Heritage Survey Adopted 13 Mar 2001 Category A

Category A

Worthy of the highest level of protection and recommended for entry in the State Register

Perth Draft Inventory 99-01 YES 31 Dec 1999

Heritage Council

Statement of Significance

The following statement is drawn from the State Register Entry for Place 4795 narrows Bridge, prepared in 1999. (It does not include reference to the railway line or second bridge built in 2001)

Narrows Bridge, a five span pre-stressed concrete bridge, has cultural heritage significance for the following reasons:
• the place is a strong landmark element of the visual landscape which comprises the built form of the City and the Narrows Bridge and the natural form of the river and Mt Eliza, this same visual resolution is apparent during the day and at night time in the context of an illuminated City and Bridge;
• the place is the first physical manifestation of the Hepburn and Stephenson plan, which contributed to the development of the Freeway road systems in the State and the Perth Metropolitan Region Scheme from the 1950s;
• the pre-stressed concrete structure is representative of innovative engineering technology and method developed in the 1950s. The construction involved structural design, techniques and materials appropriate to a low-profile structure in a visually, critical location with difficult foundation characteristics;
• the place has associations with eminent consulting engineers, Maunsell & Partners in the U.K. and consulting architects, Sir William Holford and Partners in the U.K., as an element of the Stephenson-Hepburn Report of the 1950s which emphasised the need for aesthetic consideration to be incorporated into the design of the Bridge; and,
• the place contributes to the community's sense of place as an element in the landscape of the City.

Physical Description

The Narrows Bridge comprises three separate structures which appear to form one single bridge. The original road bridge (1959) is the eastern span which provided six lane vehicle access and pedestrian walkways either side. The western section (2001) was constructed six metres to the west of the original section and is of similar pre-cast concrete construction. The central section comprises the railway bridge which was constructed in 2007.

The three separate structures are evident from underneath with narrow slithers of light filtering through either side of the railway bridge. From above, the bridge provides a more unified picture and creates the appearance of a single structure.

The original 335 metre long pre-stressed concrete road bridge, said to be the largest of its type in the world when it was constructed, is built on hollow steel cylinders filled with reinforced concrete and driven about 34 metres below the river’s surface. The original six-lane Narrows Bridge, on foundations sunk into reclaimed mud flats, is fixed at its northern end and rolls on ball bearings at its southern end to cope with expansion. The construction involved innovative engineering technology at the time, and utilised structural design, techniques and materials appropriate to a structure required to be low-profile in a visually critical location, with difficult foundation characteristics.

The second road bridge, constructed in 2001, closely follows the design of the original bridge.

The railway bridge, centred between the two road bridges, is almost undiscernible from a distance, apart from some vertical infrastructure at intervals along the bridge. At night, the bridges are illuminated, making the Narrows Bridge a prominent landmark at all times.

Due to its prominent position across the Swan River, the Narrows Bridge is a strong landmark element of the landscape in views along Mounts Bay Road and Riverside Drive to the north of the River and South Perth Esplanade to the south of the river.


This information is largely drawn from the Heritage Council of WA Assessment prepared in July 1998.

The Narrows Bridge was built in 1959. Discussions about how to bridge the narrow neck in the river, known as ‘the Narrows’, between Perth Water and Melville Water, first took place in the 1840s. However, priority was given to a causeway to the east of the Perth CBD, which was opened to traffic in May 1843. The first means of crossing from Point Belches to the foot of Mt Eliza, the closest point, was via a pole punt carrying horses, riders and cargo from 1833.

Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the issue of a bridge across the Narrows caused division within both the South Perth Council and the community. Local residents objected on the grounds that it would spoil the view to and from the city. Direct road access to South Perth from the CBD was favoured by land and property developers, but was resisted by those who wanted South Perth to retain its quiet residential character although many of the South Perth residents were daily commuters between the peninsula and the City of Perth. The ferry and tram system was a constant source of dissatisfaction among the commuters. By 1935, a Road Board publication referred to the bridge as inevitable and from about 1952 onward, the pressure for a bridge became really intense.

Largely as a result of the Stephenson-Hepburn Report released in 1955, a decision was made at State Government level to proceed with the construction of a bridge. In 1955, eminent consulting engineers, Maunsell and Partners of London and Melbourne, were appointed consulting engineers. Also involved were consulting architects, Sir William Holford and partners in the UK. In March 1957 a tender of £1,700,000 ($3,400,000) was accepted from Christiani and Nielson, in association with J O Clough & Son (Pty) Ltd of Perth.

Construction of the bridge began in 1956 and involved reshaping Point Belches and taking about 200 feet (61 metres) off the shoreline, reclaiming a controversially large extent of Perth Water and changing the character of the view of Perth from Mt Eliza. At one stage, the name of the new bridge was to be the ‘Golden West Bridge’, but this decision was later reversed, and the Narrows Bridge was officially opened on Friday 13 November 1959.

The Narrows Bridge included entry and exit ramps at South Perth near the tip of the peninsula. Initially, the entry from South Perth onto the freeway was in the form of a loop road under the Bridge via South Perth Esplanade; and the exit from the freeway into South Perth was a simple ramp that connected to the northern end of Mill Point Road. However, by 1967, congestion caused traffic movements to be re-examined. The local roads were modified to close the original entry ramp and create new north- and south-bound entry ramps and a south-bound exit ramp at Judd Street, while also modifying the north-bound exit ramp at the tip of the peninsula.

From the 1970s, owing to an increase in traffic volumes and congestion across the bridge, plans were floated for a second bridge alongside the original Narrows Bridge. A decision to build a second bridge was approved in 1998 and work began by Leighton Contractors on the duplicate bridge in May 1999. The new bridge is situated 6 metres west of the original bridge.

In October 2001, the second road bridge replicating the design of the first, opened alongside the original Narrows Bridge. The new bridge was designed to carry north-bound traffic, doubling the capacity of the original 3 x 3 lane bridge and including a dedicated bus lane on each bridge. The construction was achieved without the need to widen the existing freeway reserve, or undertake further reclamation of the river. Considerable renovations to the original bridge were also undertaken as part of this work.

In 2005, further construction work commenced on the dual Narrows Bridge to accommodate a two-way railway line. This was part of a new railway line located between the opposing traffic lanes of the Kwinana Freeway; and extending from the Perth central business district to Mandurah. The work on both bridges was completed in 2007, accommodating south-bound lines on a new railway bridge constructed in the 6.0 metre gap between the two road bridges. The north-bound tracks are laid on the north-bound (western) road bridge which opened in 2001.


High / High




Name Type Year From Year To
Sir W. Holford & Partners, UK Architect - -


Ref ID No Ref Name Ref Source Ref Date
Florey, Cecil. "Peninsular City: A Social History of the City of South Perth" City of South Perth 1995

State Heritage Office library entries

Library Id Title Medium Year Of Publication
6752 South Perth : the vanishing village. Book 2003
8788 New MetroRail : southern suburbs railway. Operations noise and vibration management plan Narrows Bridge to Perth Rail Yard. DRAFT for stakeholder comment. Report 2007
7759 Guide to heritage bridge management. Book 2001
8711 From the wastelands. Journal article 2001
9212 Mitchell Freeway Stage 1: National engineering landmark award unveiling ceremony. Brochure 2008
4899 Narrows Bridge : conservation plan. Heritage Study {Cons'n Plan} 1998

Place Type

Historic site


Epoch General Specific
Original Use Transport\Communications Road: Bridge
Present Use Transport\Communications Road: Bridge

Architectural Styles

Other Style

Construction Materials

Type General Specific
Wall CONCRETE Reinforced Concrete

Historic Themes

General Specific

Creation Date

07 Jan 1997

Publish place record online (inHerit):


Last Update

24 May 2021


This information is provided voluntarily as a public service. The information provided is made available in good faith and is derived from sources believed to be reliable and accurate. However, the information is provided solely on the basis that readers will be responsible for making their own assessment of the matters discussed herein and are advised to verify all relevant representations, statements and information.