Bertrand Road, Huirangi
List Entry Information
List Entry Status
List Entry Type
Historic Place Category 2
Private/No Public Access
1st September 1983
Extent of List Entry
Extent includes part of the land described as Legal Road, Taranaki Land District, and the structure known as Suspension Bridge thereon, including its abutments and cable anchors, as shown in the extent map tabled at the Rarangi Korero Committee meeting on 29 September 2016.
New Plymouth District
Legal Road, Taranaki Land District
Constructed in 1926, Suspension Bridge, at Bertrand Road, Taranaki, is a single-lane timber bridge across the Waitara River. It has local social significance because it is an esteemed and important part of the local transport network, maintaining the connection between the small farming settlements of Huirangi and Tikorangi with the wider region. This bridge has technological heritage value as one of the few remaining New Zealand examples of an early twentieth century suspension bridge still in use for road vehicles.
Huirangi and Tikorangi were isolated communities until 1897 when the first bridge in the area was constructed. It provided a safe and more efficient transport route between them, to local markets and New Plymouth’s port. However, by the 1920s a replacement structure was required. Funding for it came from a government grant and the County Councils on either side of the river split the remaining cost.
The replacement bridge, designed by Clifton County engineer, Noel Cracroft Fookes (1899–1976), was on the same site as its predecessor, similar in form and recycled some of the previous bridge’s fabric. It was one of the earliest projects in Fookes’ twenty-year career as County engineer. The new structure’s 61 metres span was supported by timber trestle piers and its tripod towers were common in timber suspension bridges from this period. The continued use of a suspension-type was appropriate for the Waitara River. The absence of mid-river piers reduced the risk of failure during floods events. The bridge is said to be ‘unique…[because] the main cables have a significant catenary in both the vertical and horizontal planes.’ This inwards slant of the suspension cable hangars was a wind resilience design feature.
Steel stiffening trusses were added to the bridge in 1970. However, safety concerns about the deteriorating structure lead to its closure to vehicular traffic in 1985. Community esteem for the structure resulted in fundraising efforts to strengthen and retain it. The Bertrand Road Suspension Bridge Trust was formed for this purpose in 1998 and local schools also contributed to the fundraising effort. In 2004 the structure was closed to pedestrians, causing an outcry and more impetus to find the necessary money to strengthen the structure. The government’s Lottery Environment and Heritage Committee contributed $127,000 to the resulting restoration project which was managed by New Plymouth District Council and completed in 2006. A water main was also installed under the deck during the project. Further repair on degraded timbers was completed in 2012.
While a number of early twentieth century suspension bridges were constructed, subsequent bridge replacement programmes mean relatively few remain. Extant contemporaries of the Bertrand Road bridge entered on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rārangi Kōrero include: Brunner Suspension Bridge (1926), Springvale Suspension Bridge (1925) and Tauranga Bridge (circa 1922). Suspension Bridge is the only one among these examples still used for vehicular traffic, albeit with weight restrictions.
Noel Cracoft Fookes
No biography is currently available for this construction professional
Degraded timbers replaced
Steel stiffening trusses added
Bridge restoration and water main added
4th August 2016
Report Written By
Geoffrey Thornton, Bridging the Gap, Early Bridges in New Zealand 1830-1939, Auckland, 2001
Cochran, Chris, ‘Bertrand Road Bridge, Tikorangi, Waitara’, Conservation plan, 28 Oct 2004
Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.
A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Central region Office of Heritage New Zealand