Galley Slave
Good Idea
The Bridge
History Police and ancestry․com
A Leap of Faith
A Big Surprise
Waste, ain't it!
The Dreaded Virus
The Flower Garden

List of 2014 stories

The Bridge

You hear people talking about the Sydney Harbour Bridge "ad nauseum." I would like to tell you a personal story about the Bridge through the less than favourable eyes of a schoolgirl. You see, my school was on the southern approach to the Bridge, on Observatory Hill. There were only two lanes to the approach to the Bridge in the 1950's. You entered the school grounds through black wrought iron gates, walked up the steps through a fragrant rose garden, then passed two tennis courts and up again to the main building.

The first inkling we had that changes were afoot came at the School Assembly. Our headmistress announced that the Main Road Board had decided to widen the approaches to the Bridge from two lanes to four in each direction. They would resume our entrance gates, the rose garden and the two tennis courts. To compensate for this loss, they proposed to build a brand new gymnasium with all equipment supplies and including an indoor basketball court. The Assembly exploded with noisy comment, some sad, some excited. There was already a great lack of outdoor areas for a high school of over 500 girls. The headmistress returned us to silence when she said that we would have no say in the matter.

Strike One against the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Main Roads Board made no mention of the fact that the iron gates and the main school building had been constructed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie as a Military Hospital in 1815, commonly known as the Rum Hospital. It was merely a property in the way of highway expansion. The gymnasium was duly built and it was impressive. It was the first full gymnasium in any school in NSW. We had to walk across a short bridge to reach it. The MRB had neglected to mention that beneath the bridge were two roaring lanes of traffic curving underneath from the eastern direction – the new Cahill Expressway.

Strike Two against the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We never did hear what happened to the 1815 black wrought iron gates.

Frances Coll © 5-8-12