Kelburn Viaduct

Upland Road, Kelburn, Wellington

  • Kelburn Viaduct.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Hannah O'Brien. Date: 20/05/2008.
  • Kelburn Viaduct under construction. Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image..
    Copyright: Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. Taken By: Evening Post. Date: 1/04/1930.
  • .
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Hannah O'Brien. Date: 20/05/2008.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 3333 Date Entered 28th June 1984

Locationopen/close

Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Legal Road, Wellington Land District and the structure known as Kelburn Viaduct thereon, including its wing walls and abutments. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Rārangi Kōrero Committee Meeting on 6 September 2017.

City/District Council

Wellington City

Region

Wellington Region

Legal description

Legal Road, Wellington Land District

Summaryopen/close

Completed in 1931, the Kelburn Viaduct is a reinforced concrete girder two-lane road bridge. Designed by the Wellington City Council’s engineering department, which was headed by important engineer George A Hart (1870–1948), the Kelburn Viaduct is a notable structure within its urban streetscape. This bridge has historic and social significance because it was a greatly anticipated modernisation to the city’s road infrastructure and remains an important transport link.

Plans to build a new Upland Road bridge to replace an ‘obsolete’ late nineteenth century timber trestle bridge were developed in 1929. The existing Kelburn Viaduct could not cope with modern traffic needs because it was too narrow to allow two lanes of motor traffic. The Evening Post followed the replacement structure’s construction closely, publishing photographs most months between 1930 and 1931, which indicates a high level of public interest in the project.

The new bridge, constructed by W Hodges, meant traffic could flow to and from the western suburbs more efficiently. The mayor at the time, George Alexander Troup (1863–1941), who had previously been an important Railways Department architect, applauded Hart’s team for the Kelburn Viaduct’s design. Before becoming City Engineer in 1926, Hart had considerable municipal engineering experience in England, and over the next decade was responsible for several major projects, including the Mount Victoria Tunnel.

At its opening in May 1931 the Kelburn Viaduct was heralded as a ‘work of art’. However, the structure, which looms 20 metres above Glenmore Street, has subsequently also been described as ‘rather ponderous’. The bridge consists of three spans supported by two substantial tapering piers and the total length is 71.3 metres. Typical of the popular architectural style of the period, Art Deco-inspired lamp posts extended upwards from the piers, as well as marking each end of the structure. The spherical light-fittings were removed circa 2014. The original balustraded parapets were replaced circa 1972. These form solid concrete traffic barriers with ribbing on each side, positioned between the original curved concrete wing walls located at each end of the bridge. The southern pedestrian walkway is no longer accessible because it has been reduced to provide greater vehicular traffic lane width. Therefore, views of the bronze commemorative opening plaque on the parapet’s interior, beneath the southeast lamp post, are limited.

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Construction Professionalsopen/close

Hart, George Alfred James

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

W. Hodges

Builder of the Kelburn Viaduct 1930-31

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Modification
2014 -
Light fittings removed

Original Construction
1930 - 1931

Modification
1972 -
Parapets replaced

Completion Date

23rd June 2017

Report Written By

Karen Astwood

Information Sources

Thornton, 2001

Geoffrey Thornton, Bridging the Gap, Early Bridges in New Zealand 1830-1939, Auckland, 2001

Other Information

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.