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David Lennox Plaque on bridge, Parramatta
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David Lennox

Bridge builder and master stonemason (1788–1873)

About David Lennox

David Lennox was a renowned bridge-builder and master stonemason who designed and oversaw the construction of the iconic sandstone Lennox Bridge in Parramatta in the late 1830s.

Spanning the Parramatta River, one of Sydney’s great inland waterways, its simple stone arch is 24 metres long and 12 metres wide. Named Lennox Bridge in 1867 in honour of its creator, it remains one of the city’s finest landmarks.

A man of great vision and technical skill, David also spearheaded countless other well-known bridges and public works projects.

Location

  • Street address:340-330 Church St, Parramatta 2150
  • Traditional name:Burramattagal

Accessibility

  • Wheelchair accessible

Category

  • Architecture and construction

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Detailed information

A formally posed photograph of David Lennox during his time as superintendent of bridges, taken around 1841 onwards. Photographer unknown.
David Lennox, Superintendent of Bridges, c. 1841. Image Courtesy of State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales, Government Printing Office

David Lennox was born in 1788 in Ochiltree in Ayrshire, Scotland.

He became a skilled mason, working in Britain for more than 20 years, including under the supervision of famous bridge engineer Thomas Telford. During his early career, he worked on many bridge projects, including Telford’s majestic suspension bridge over the Menai Strait in Wales.

David emigrated to Australia after his wife died in 1828. He was first employed on day wages cutting the coping stone for the wall of the hospital in Macquarie Street, Sydney. But the Surveyor-General Major Thomas Mitchell soon noticed his talent and would later praise his role in “all the bridges this colony possesses worthy of the name”.

Appointed to the Roads Department on a salary of £120 a year, David was named the colony’s superintendent of bridges within eight months.

He built his first bridge on the main western road at Lapstone Hill in the Blue Mountains in 1833. By the direction of the Governor, Sir Richard Bourke, it was named Lennox Bridge. Still, the oldest bridge standing on the Australian mainland, it carried all road vehicles heading west from Sydney for almost a century.

Other legacies include the Queen’s Wharf at Parramatta, the brick arch bridge over Duck Creek, which still carries Parramatta Road traffic, and the dam across the Georges River at Liverpool.

As Victoria’s superintendent of bridges in his later career, David oversaw all roads, bridges, wharves, and ferries. This notably included the first Princes Bridge over the Yarra River in Melbourne. This was his largest bridge, featuring a stone arch spanning 46 metres.

A photograph of the Lenox Bridge spanning the Parramatta River taken around 1880. Two gentleman and a cow are standing by the riverbank looking at the camera.
Lennox Bridge and the Parramatta River, c. 1880. Image courtesy of the City of Parramatta (LSP00212)

Upon retirement, Lennox settled in Parramatta in a house that he had designed. He remained there until his death in 1873.

Parramatta’s Lennox Bridge remained unaltered until 1902 when the arch was strengthened to carry the Parramatta–Castle Hill tramway. In 1912, the parapet on the western side was removed and a cantilevered footway was added.

The bridge was later widened and further modifications have since been made to accommodate cycleways and the installation of the Parramatta Light Rail.

Today, Lennox Bridge lies at the heart of Parramatta’s business, retail and cultural attractions – a priceless link to both the history and the future of the city.

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