by John Morris
You're Invited - Various Opening Ceremonies
I have attended a few ceremonies over the years, weddings, birthdays, ship launchings and building openings - most officially. I have also missed one or two that I would have liked to attend. In each case there was an invitation, sometimes verbal but often official. You are familiar with the routine; invitation received, response required, and depending on the function and who is receiving guests you may need to produce evidence of your entitlement to attend.
Iron Cove Bridge
I lived beside Iron Cove for 21 years and have ridden over or driven over the Iron Cove Bridge many times since, but I do not know where the name came from. The usual web search does not reveal the answer either.
The original bridge across Iron Cove (1) was completed in 1882 and with the Gladesville Bridge finished a year earlier provided a shorter and easier route from Sydney CBD to the inner north-western suburbs. Both bridges were constructed of wrought iron lattice girders with the Gladesville Bridge having an opening span on the southern end of the bridge to provide for sailing boats with tall masts and colliers moving further up river to the Australian Gas light Company plant at Mortlake.
Each Bridge provided 2 lanes for both motor vehicles and for trams (light rail). Tram conductors working the "toastrack trams" across the bridge had to be really careful when collecting fares while the tram was crossing the bridge. There was not a lot of clearance between the side of the tram and the bridge structure. The conductors had to swing along the outside of the tram as there was no internal connection between the compartments. Buses passing large trucks going the other way often had to slow down to ensure safe passing. By the time I became a resident of Drummoyne traffic volumes had increased and the need for a more efficient and safer crossing had long since been recognized.
In 1939 the decision was made to replace the Iron Cove Bridge. The process of design and construction was time consuming with World War 2 interfering with life until 1945. Construction began in 1947 and was the subject of intense interest to local residents and many others. Buses replaced trams through Drummoyne to Ryde from 1949 and there was no provision in the new bridge for the tramlines. The design featured 2 lanes each way for motor traffic with pedestrian walkways on either side of the bridge. The engineering design was interesting in that it provided for the use of rivets for field connections. This was the last truss bridge constructed in New South Wales that was so constructed.
The big day was Saturday July 30, 1955. The premier, Hon. J.J. Cahill, MLA was to do the honours and declare the bridge open. A temporary stand was constructed on the northern end of the bridge, and traffic was blocked until the official function was completed. The family was fully aware of the opening and I decided to drop down and have a look. When I got to the bridge the preparations were well underway, and with everyone on the bridge involved in their own activities I decided that I would christen the bridge for myself and promptly rode across to the south or Balmain side of the bridge. I turned around to return and was promptly collared by one of the security guards and told to get off the bridge. I had to ride back across the old and about to be closed bridge. The old bridge was subsequently demolished and all that remains are the sandstone abutments on either side of Iron Cove.
The current bridge is itself about to be duplicated. A second bridge is now under construction on the western side of the current bridge after much furore over the need for duplication. 3 traffic lanes and one dedicated bus lane will be provided on each bridge with the outrigger lane on the current bridge being restricted to maintenance use only. The new facility will come into operation in April 2011. I would not be surprised to see protesters active on that occasion. I wonder if I could get an invitation to this opening seeing I was at the last one.
Mooney Mooney Creek Bridge.
The Mooney Mooney Creek Bridge was the missing link in the Freeway between Sydney and points north. The opening in December 1986 was a big day - a Big Day for a Big Bridge. The bridge is 27.15 metres wide and 485.15 metres long. It is a hollow box twin cantilevered bridge and at 75 metres above water level below is the highest road bridge in Australia. It provides 3 traffic lanes each way and has been recently fitted with a high fence to stop jumpers of various sorts. At each end of the bridge is a wind sock to alert drivers particularly those towing light trailers or caravans, of high winds.
It was not easy to get the project going let alone build it. "When funds were made available for the construction of this section (of the freeway including the bridge), the DMR faced stiff opposition from the NPWS who would not allow the construction of this route through Brisbane Water National Park. Reluctantly, the DMR had no choice but to investigate a new location for the route which they then proceeded to do detailed design for. This new route had a more expensive bridge and steeper grades than the preferred route but there was nothing the DMR could do about it."(1)
Opening day in December 1986 was a real party day. There were thousands on the bridge (the public was invited to attend). Bands played, speeches were given (there must have been heaps of politicians attending) a young couple got married as part of the festivities, 3 "F111" bombers flew overhead, helicopters from TV networks and other media buzzed around all day. There was a display of vintage cars. Best of all we were allowed to walk through the bridge structure. I cannot remember who actually made the opening declaration. It was much more interesting for Cathy and I to walk through the bridge. It was a long concrete rectangular tube whose internal height changed as one walked through. Over the main columns on each side of the creek the height was some 12-14 metres, but at the centre of the span the height reduced to some 3 - 4 metres as the floor of the tube rose.
The best thing about the bridge was that it filled in the "missing link" between Berowra and Ourimbah and provided a continuous freeway standard road for 45km. A dramatic reduction in travel time from Newcastle and points north and west to Sydney occurred. Just driving along the new road was a party day. Travelling the "old" road was very time consuming. It was nothing to take over 2 hours to get back from Gosford a mere 80 kilometres away.
Drummoyne Seventh-day Adventist Church
The Drummoyne Seventh-day Adventist Church first met in my grandmother's house in Drummoyne. As the church grew the house became too small and the group moved to Miss Bowden's Dance Hall on Victoria Road. First duty Sabbath morning was to clean out the rubbish from the Friday night dance. Drink bottles, cigarette butts, balloons and streamers were the usual fare. We children met out on the verandah for Sabbath School.
My father had suggested to the church members that they ought to have a building fund with the idea of one day acquiring a block of land and eventually constructing a church. There were not a lot of members and there was not a lot of money available outside of the basics for life. Remember the 2nd world War had just finished. Funding was tight for everyone. However persistent church members won the day and a block of land was purchased at Russell Lea.
More years passed and with the assistance of the Greater Sydney Conference a church building began and grew slowly. There were only 3 regular male church members on the building team, my dad Bill Morris, Sid Keane and Rex Green. The pastoral team members over the years, Pastor Woller, Fred Wright and Teddy Oliver, were ready to roll up their sleeves and gave valuable building time. A lot of the ladies were of mature age and mostly without transport. For many years we had 2 days at church, Sabbath - the day of rest - and Sunday a day of hard labour - but good fun. At age 10 and over there was more fun for me than hard work. With a house being constructed next door with a large pile of sand close to the church site it was very exciting to jump out the window onto the pile of sand. On 2 occasions the back wall of the church had been built (of brick) and was knocked down by severe storms, not so much fun then for anyone.
Opening day, Saturday 13th of March 1954 was a very happy occasion and impressive to a 13 year old. The church officers from the conference arrived, the local Council mayor graced the platform, and the North Shore Youth Choir under the baton of Lyn Knight rolled out in their best uniform. Dad's address focused on the church of 1954. The Mayor gave the official opening speech. Mum played the piano postlude. The ladies of the church had spent hours in polishing floors, cleaning windows, washing down the footpath on the street, touching up painted surfaces, organising flowers and preparing refreshments for the members visitors and honoured guests. The evening programme was an open air film showing of "I beheld His glory' with the Sydney Adventist Band support.
The church members played an active part in the community from then on. Pioneering work was done with the introduction of a community clinic later to be taken on by other churches in the Sydney region, cooking demonstrations, children's programmes and regular evangelistic activities.
Got an Invitation?
Most ceremonial activities, a wedding, a coronation or graduation, or a bridge opening, require an invitation to join the "official" party. It is not often that a blanket invitation is given. Jesus related an interesting little anecdote where a king gave his son a wedding feast. The invited guests gave all sorts of excuses for not coming, "I've just bought a farm and need to check it over", Can't come - just got married", "Bought a new tractor and have to take it for a test run" - everyone invited had an excuse. Then the invitations were opened up and a general invitation was given to all. The anecdote was directed at the religious leaders of the day who failed to recognise Jesus as the Messiah, but at the same time it highlighted an important principle, that eternal life is not limited. The official invitation has gone out. "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:29 In Luke's variant on the story "the lord said to the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled." Luke 14:23
The apostle John pictured those who accepted the invitation (for God does not force anyone to accept) as "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…" Revelation 7:9 "called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb" Rev 19:9 and calls them Blessed. A few pages further over, John describes a new heaven and a new earth with a brand new capital city where the "nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there." Rev 21:24, 25.
The invitation is repeated in chapter 22. "And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely".
It's going to be a great opening ceremony to the rest of eternity. There is an invitation with your name on it. RSVP today.
(1) Iron Cove Bridge picture courtesy State Library of Victoria
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Cove_Bridge Accessed 2 April 2010
(2) Sydney Newcastle Freeway - Construction Information
http://www.ozroads.com.au/NSW/Freeways/F3/ConstructionInfo.htm Accessed 28 March 2010
Bible texts are from the King James Version
This article and the pictures it contains are Copyright © 2010 by John L Morris. Used by permission.
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