The Fremantle Society last week broke the news that Main Roads are about to launch plans for a new bridge over the Swan River at Fremantle. We noted that over the years there has been, and still is, a great deal of support for the current heritage listed bridge, and last week the Fremantle Society resolved that the current bridge should be preserved at all costs. We do not want Fremantle Council caving in from their previous strong support for the WHOLE timber bridge, and nor do we want Main Roads saying that they cannot afford to keep and maintain it.
We asked for your ideas and memories of the current bridge, but all we got was static about 5G causing the virus.
President John Dowson provides a virus free sketch (above) made when he was in primary school, and there must be plenty of people out there who also have a story to share .
Agnieshka Kiera, Fremantle Council Heritage Architect for 25 years, lets rip with her comments as below:
- the historic Fremantle bridge has to stay. Not only for the reason of its heritage significance and, being listed on State Heritage, planning and compliance reasons. It should also stay for its greater importance to the city as the strategic urban feature and gateway to Fremantle, as follows:
- since its construction the bridge has provided the vital pedestrian (and traffic) connection, not only between Fremantle and Perth but equally importantly between Fremantle and North Fremantle historic town centre;
- while the main vehicular traffic connection to Perth has been taken over by the Stirling Bridge, the much-reduced traffic using the historic bridge has helped to keep the North Fremantle’s historic centre accessible and to date a viable local hub of commercial and social activity;
- the bridge acts as an important entry point and gateway to Fremantle: on the approach to Fremantle by the bridge, the closed vista of Cantonment Hill and the Signal Station, the Fremantle Port to the right and Swan River to the left, all the iconic urban features and Fremantle icons, create an exceptional landscape setting, reinforcing the city’s identity as the historic landmark of Western Australia;
- the proposed bridge could potentially relieve the historic bridge of the vehicular traffic altogether and let it act as the vital pedestrian/cyclist link with Fremantle proper. There are numerous very successful examples around the world of saving the historic bridges from demolition. And while building new bridges to take on the modern essential role of carrying the vehicular traffic, many cities conserved the old bridges utilising them for the ancillary (mainly pedestrian) purposes. The most famous examples include the Burt Bridge in San Francisco, the Brooklyn Bridge on New York’s East River, Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Pot du Gard in France, Chenguyang Inmud and Rain Bridge in China etc. Each of them was replaced by a new bridge while being preserved for new functions. The same could be done in Fremantle, as freeing the Fremantle Bridge from vehicular traffic would facilitate its proper restoration as the pedestrian/cyclist bridge;
- However, the plan in Brad Pettit’s blog doesn’t show where the new bridge’s roadway goes. Would it go through the North Fremantle old centre? It looks very likely. Would this result in some massive demolitions of the heritage buildings on its way? That would be the death not only to the old bridge but to the North Fremantle historic centre as well. The Fremantle bridge’s traditional role as a gateway and the significant connection between North Fremantle and Fremantle proper via Queen Victoria Street would be destroyed. That is a devastating prospect and should be stopped.
In addition, I would like to clarify the broader issue regarding the increase in antisocial behaviour, theft and generally a major degradation to the Fremantle social fabric and economic viability.
The decade long push to abandon the previously measured and harmonious development of the city with heritage as its driver (as evident in the West End, Wray Avenue precinct, South Fremantle), and to replace it with this major disruption by the out of scale, developers’ driven, massive, inconsiderate, badly planned, badly designed and expensive developments in the heart of the city is, in my opinion, the main cause of the increase in crime in the city.
Any major change is disruptive. The long term businesses lose confidence in the strategic prospects. As the disruption continues, the community at large starts to lose the commitment to the city and each other (remember what has happened to Fremantle Markets? Fremantle Police? Fremantle Hospital?); thousands of local investors and businesses begin to feel uncertain about the future and where Fremantle is going; the loyalty and ethical behaviour towards the city and each other declines, and the ‘undesirables’ of all kinds begin to fill up the void.
They feel encouraged by the lack of social cohesion to move in and began to steal, grab and, generally make the city environment unsafe.