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Tuapeka Mouth,


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Tuapeka Mouth,

Tuapeka Mouth Bridge - 3 month closure (July-october 2020)and some history


…A FEW BITS OF HISTORY. Some gleanings from past news:


 “…towards the erection of a new bridge across the Tuapeka River at the Mouth, in place of the present rotten structure…”


“… the present state of the Tuapeka Mouth bridge which has long needed repair, and anyone crossing it endangers his life and property.”


“…The tender for the erection of the Tuapeka Mouth bridge was accepted by the council.”


“…The Chairman said the necessary repairs to the Tuapeka mouth bridge would be put in hand shortly.”


“Bridge closed until further notice’


“…the piers are now completed, as also the necessary buttress, which had to be erected to make the south abutment secure. This work took 65 yards of extra concrete.”


“…the Tuapeka Mouth bridge deck is in a very rotten and dangerous state….

2020  …Previous repair work (2009) showed that the bridge abutment was damaged. This damage was investigated further, but finding was not available for repairs. 

...After presenting a business case to NZRA Council has secured further funding to carry out this work…. This should be the last major bridge work, apart from routine maintenance, for the next 30 years.”

Photos from 2009 Repairs


Historian Bill Cowan is doing further research on the Tuapeka Bridges. Some of his notes:

* At some stage prior to 1870 the Otago Provincial Council built a wooden bridge across the Tuapeka River. This was located, I believe, a few yards downstream of the present bridge and much closer to the river. It was thirteen feet lower than the present bridge.
* By May 1870 this bridge needed staying; it had developed a twist and it was feared that in the next flood it would go down the Clutha.
* In February 1872  the bridge's flooring and beams were described as being completely rotten. 
* In July 1878 the Bruce County Council agreed that the Crookburn Creek should be the new boundary with the Tuapeka County and this was to be actioned. Up until now the County boundary had approached from the east, crossed the Tuapeka River upstream from T.M. and met the Clutha River about opposite Rongahere. This placed T.M. within the Bruce County.  But for some reason or other this boundary change didn’t happen right then because in January 1882 the Tuapeka County received a petition from T.M. residents asking for the boundary to be the Tuapeka River. Apparently this move would then facilitate the building of a new bridge.
* In March 1882 an arrangement was reached whereby the Bruce County would build the bridge for £600 with the Bruce County contributing £200, the Balmoral Road Board  £100 and the General Government  £300. At this point the Tuapeka County  agreed to alter the boundary to the Tuapeka River but it seems they made no contribution to construction costs.
* The successful tenderer for the new bridge was James Archibald; the tender price was £639/17/0. In early December 1882 the river steamer Matau brought up 10 000 ft of timber for the new bridge which  was completed later that month except for the approaches. These were left three feet below the bridge decking which meant it was only a foot bridge at this stage. It was finally opened to traffic during February 1883. In July, Archibald sued the Bruce County for extras involved in the bridge’s construction.
* By March 1886 the Crookburn  Creek was definitely the County boundary and remained so until the abolition of the counties and formation of district and regional councils.
* In August 1910 the bridge was renewed. I suspect this was a major rebuilding whereby the lattice-type construction, as revealed by that early photo from Mill Hill, was replaced by steel girders.
The present bridge during its life seems to have been a high-maintenance structure. There is the present rebuild, the 2010 exercise and previous re-planking work. As a child travelling to the T.M. school I recall the decking being re-planked about 1947-48 with the work being undertaken by Bill Bennington of Evans Flat. Bill operated a mill and chaff cutting business and must have done the bridge work in the off-season.
There is more research needing to be done on the county boundary issue. The delay in implementing the 1878 decision may well have been tied-up with the problem of who would build the bridge. It was reasonable for T.M. wanting to be in the Tuapeka County which was headquartered at Lawrence as services such as mail delivery, medical help, etc. came from there. When the highway to Balclutha was opened in the late 1920s T.M. turned to the larger centre for its services.