Windsor Bridge: Planned Destruction of historic Link with a pittwater connection
The planned destruction of this bridge is also a reminder that the first version was built by this early Pittwater gentleman:
WHEREAS by the General Orders of May 25, 1802, His Excellency was pleased to grant to Andrew Thompson, settler and Constable at the Green Hills, Hawkesbury, a lease for constructing a Floating Bridge over the South Creek, to facilitate the communication between Sydney, Parramatta and Hawkesbury, which has been of the greatest service to the settlers in that District and to the inhabitants in general, as specified in the said Order. And whereas the Tolls on the said Bridge have not been sufficiently explicit under the different heads of Persons, Carriages, Draught and Stock Cattle, and other Stock, the Governor has judged it necessary, with the consent of the Proprietor Lessee to make the following Reductions and Alterations in the Tolls demandable on passing the said Floating Bridge. per ana. For each Foot Passenger 4s or Per ana £1 10 0 Each Horse, single or draught 2s 6d or £2 10 0
Waggons or four-wheeled Carriages taking more than half a ton lading 1s 6d or £1 10 0 For each Cart or Carriage with two wheels loaded or not 1s 6d or £ 1 10 0 For each head of Cattle whether in draught or not 1s 6d or £1 10 0
Each sheep under a score 2s
Ditto by the score, 2s 6d or £210 0 Swine or Goat the same as 2 Sheep,
It is to be understood that for the above Toll passenger, horses, carts, or carriages are to pass and repass once in the same day on the same Ticket.
Thereafter Regulation of the Order of May 25, 1802, respecting keeping the Bridge in repair Individuals &c. passing the Bridge on Government Service in the actual execution of Public Duty and the penalties prescribed by that Order do remain in force. General Orders. (1806, March 9). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 1. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article627036
We are further reminded of the connection between our two communities in the naming of Haystack Point at Newport, which also stems from our estuaries connection to the Hawkesbury and a flood during which Andrew Thompson rescued many when the lace was still called Green Hills:
HAWKESBURY, MARCH 27.
The extensive damage done by the flood cannot yet thoroughly be ascertained :—though it is known, that many individuals have lost every thing they possessed, and that several have perished in the deluge, which was never before known to arrive to so great a height by from eight to ten feet. What rendered its progress still more destructive was, a false notion of security which many had imbibed, from the supposed confidence that there never would be another heavy flood in the main river, though without assigning any cause for such an idea ; to which the recent alarms seemed to give a colour, as each succeeding fresh had abated without any damage, save that sustained from the overflow of the South Creek.
The first appearance of this distressing inundation was observable on Thursday the 20th instant ; the River, discoloured, having risen several feet above the high water mark. The settlers on the low grounds, known from former doleful experience to be subject to disaster, were now preparing for the consequences ; but in the course of the night the rise abated, and the next morning apprehension had totally subsided. The incessant rains on Friday and Saturday night gave a new turn to expectation ; and by day-light on Saturday morning a scene of horror presented itself in every quarter. It was by this time nearly as high as on the 2d of March 1801 ; many farms were then under water; the rain continued without intermission, and a rapid rise was in consequence observable. The measures adopted by THOMAS ARNDELL Esq. for the preservation of lives, were actively carried into execution by Mr. Thompson, Chief Constable ; who in one of his boats saved the lives of a hundred persons, whom he took from the tops of houses, and rafts of straw floating on the deluge. He had two more boats employed in the same humane work, and by means of these also a number of lives were saved.
Mr. Thomas Biggers, often at the risque of his own life, saved upwards of 150 men, women, and children ; and others who possessed boats, particularly the District Constables, were very active in this benevolent duty.
In the course of this dreadful day upwards of 200 wheat stacks were swept into the stream and carried down the river with incredible velocity; stock of all descriptions were seen floating about and on the tops of the stacks, but could not be saved for want of boats, those of Messrs. Thompson, Biggers, and others being constantly employed taking the settlers families from the roofs and ridges of the houses, where many had for whole hours clung despairing of assistance, and expecting to be shortly washed into the watery waste. Towards Richmond Hill it seemed to abate on Saturday evening; down the River it still rose—The distress and horror of that evening can neither be described or imagined.—The day heavy and gloomy, the night fast approaching, torrents of rain pauring with unabating fury ; and not a house except at the Green Hills to be seen, the roofs of one or two of the highest on the opposite side of the water being then only visible. Muskets were discharged by the settlers from trees and roofs all day, and great numbers had been taken up, and left safely on the higher grounds; but many were devoted to undergo a night of horror the most inexpressible : in the evening the dismal cries from distant quarters, the report of fire-arms dangerously charged in order to increase the noise of explosion ; the howl-ing of dogs that had by swimming got into trees, all concurred to shock the feelings of the few that were out of the reach, but were sorrowful spectators of the calamity they could not relieve. On Sunday morning the rigor of the weather abated ; and in the course of the day the water on the high lands shewed a disposition to run off. Nearly 300 persons, saved from the deluge by the humane perseverance and incredible exertions of the rescuers, were released from a state of actual famine by a supply sent from the Green Hills in consequence of HIS EXCELLENCY'S request to Mr. Arndell to afford the sufferers every as-assistance and relief.
Five persons are known at present to have lost their lives: one of whom was a labourer at Richmond ; the others at Chalker's farm, viz. Walter Scott, a shoemaker, who has left a large family to deplore his destiny, & James Burns, with two women, one the wife of Benjamin Coolen, the other the wife of J. Cowan. Three of these unfortunate persons had taken shelter in Chalker's house, there hoping safety : but alas ! the highest & the lowest situations seemed alike devoted, and security was no where to be found. Chalker was in turn compelled to fly for safety ; and taking to his boat with a boy five years of age, and the above three, by fatal accident the boat upset, and they instantly perished. The child was the first object of Chalker's care, as an endeavour to save either of the others must have failed, and been at the same time fatal to himself, as the distance he had to swim was little short of a mile. The child at his desire threw his arms about his neck and instead of giving way to terror, endeavoured to embarrass his preserver as little as possible, and occasionally to chear him with the assurance, that they were almost out of danger.
Among some other wonderful escapes was that of William Leeson, settler, who with his mother, wife and two children, and three men, was carried from his farm upon a barley mow. They were driven by the impetuous current nearly seven miles ; and were taken off in the dark by Rich. Wallis, with the greatest difficulty.
The amount of stock lost must indeed be serious and considerable, though a quantity of different kinds was picked up, after the settlers with their wives & children were removed from danger.
Many of the stacks of wheat and barley that were floated off were forced by the current into the ocean; upwards of sixty were seen by one observer to clear Cumberland Reach, and twenty were seen by two lime burners in a very short space of time, drifting towards Pittwater where they had but little obstruction to encounter: upon some of these were many pigs, dogs and prodigious quantities of poultry, a great many of which took flight and got to land as they occasionally approached the banks.
By Wednesday about noon the water had fallen about 12 feet ; but none of the grounds about the back farms were at all fordable. Many of the stacks that had broke loose have been secured: Indeed, nothing but the activity of the Officers of Government, & the readiness with which their commands were generally executed, could have left one single hope to this extensive settlement, which had no other appearance than that of an immense sheet of water. And although distress was visible in every countenance, and universal horror prevailed, yet could there be found beings so destitute of the common feelings of humanity as to refuse their aid in preserving the lives and property of the unhappy sufferers. This inhuman conduct was immediately represented to His Excellency by the Rev. Mr. Marsden and Thomas Arndell Esq. who were on Thursday joined by C. Throsby Esq. with 8 Constables : and in consequence of their representation His Excellency was pleased immediately to issue a General Order to render what was so of itself criminal, viz. refusing assistance at a juncture, when not only lives and property, but the welfare and very subsistance of the whole Colony was at stake. On Wednesday and Thursday 125 Labourers from the Public Works at Parramatta and Castle Hill, were sent under their overseer, together with 27 volunteer Soldiers, to give every assistance the Magistrates might direct, in saving as much wheat and growing maize as possible, by drying the former, and pulling and shelling the latter. The road between Hawkesbury and Parramatta was also in a dreadful state of flood, no communication being practicable but along the elevated grounds, occasioning the prodigious circuit : the Race Ground was nearly covered, and the Ponds, the foot of Lapstone-hill, and various other parts of road were not at all fordable.
Much apprehension was entertained for the fate of the Settlers on the Nepean; from whence some satisfactory intelligence has been received, but no certain accounts of the extent of losses at that place or the Hawkesbury can as yet be depended on ; Yet it is sufficiently obvious, that but little short of the present destruction of private property in that Settlement is the consquence of this uncommon deluge ; which, like those of the nile, may conduce to the abundance of future crops.
HAWKESBURY, MARCH 27. (1806, March 30). The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser (NSW : 1803 - 1842), p. 2. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article627063
On November 16th an Upper House Inquiry was announced:
RIPPING THE GUTS OUT OF OUR COMMUNITY
Save Windsor from the RTA
Thompson Square, Windsor
Opening of the Windsor Bridge.
(FROM OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.)
NEW BRIDGE OVER THE HAWKESBURY AT WINDSOR.
THE want of a bridge over the Hawkesbury river at Windsor has been felt for many years. In 1864, Mr. J. A. Cunneen presented a petition from the inhabitants of the district for the erection of a bridge at Windsor, but it was not until June, 1871, that the Legislative Assembly voted the necessary funds for the construction of a low level bridge.
Fears for Windsor Bridge
Reminiscences of a Visit to the Hawkesbury.As the years roll on the venerable personages regarded as the "oldest inhabitants" are passing away, and the first race of "Hawkesbury natives" -a generation of giants-will soon exist only in their numerous descendants who are scattered throughout almost every part of Australia and New Zealand. These descendants of the " giants of those days," and the general public, will perhaps be interested in the following reminiscences of their old home or the homo of their fathers.
(FROM A CORRESPONDENT. )
The most remarkable building in the Hawkesbury district is Windsor church, the oldest place of worship now existing in Australia. There were churches built at an earlier period. For instance, St. Philip's, Sydney, and St. John's, Parramatta, but these have been demolished and rebuilt long since, so that St. Matthew's, Windsor, can unquestionably lay claim to be the most venerable sacred edifice in the country.
" I stood on the bridge at mid-night,
As the clock was striking the hour,
And the moon rose o'er the landscape,
Behind the dark church tower."
I was favoured with an inspection of some old official Hawkesbury records, and find that in the year 1817 there was a Government House at Windsor, and that Governor Lachlan Macquarie sometimes lived there.
I find that on the 11th October of that year the corner stone of St. Matthew's, Windsor, was laid by Governor Macquarie, who, after depositing a "holey dollar"- that is, the rim of a Spanish dollar, with the circular bit cut out, which bit then passed current as a " dump"- said " God prosper St. Matthew's Church," gently striking the stone three times with the mallet. "And," continues the account from which I quote, " the same ceremony was severally performed by the whole of the gentlemen who accompanied his Excellency from the Government House to the spot."
The paper then proceeds to state that through indisposition, the incumbent, the Rev. Robert Cartwright, was not present. The follows this paragraph :
13th October, 1817.
The corner stone having been removed, and the money stolen early on the evening on which it was deposited by the Governor, this evening, about the same time, the corner stone was re-laid, by his Excellency, and a dollar deposited underneath it, by the Rev. Robert Cartwright. This consecration was witnessed by his Honour lieutenant Governor Erskine, Major Antill, D. Allan. Esq., Commissary-General, Rev. Henry Fulton, William Cox, Esq., Chief Magistrate at Hawkesbury, Mr. Surgeon Mileham, J.P., several other gentlemen and the most respectable Inhabitants of Windsor. His Excellency addressed the spectators in a very pathetic manner, passing very high and deserved encomiums on the resident chaplain. He then returned to compliment the magistrates and officers with his presence at the Macquarie Arms inn, where the whole party (except Mr. Cartwright) supped together.
For the second time it -would seem that the dollar placed in the foundation stone -was stolen, for another entry, dated Nov. 18, 1817, runs as follows :
The dollar deposited underneath the corner stone of St. Matthew's Church, bj' the REv. Mr. Cartwright, was again stolen n few nights afterwards. This infamous species of theft could not have been practiced only through the neglect of the contracting builders in not having prepared materials to immediately work over the stone. It was supposed that the corner stone was thrown down each time and the money stolen by some of the men employed at the public works in the town of Windsor.
This and the previously quoted documents, and those I shall presently quote from, are all signed by " Joseph Harpur," who was clerk in the Church and Public School-master. This Mr. Harpur was father of Charles Harpur, the well-known Australian poet.
The next entry relating to the church, bears date June 4th, 1819. It is as follows :
The walls of the church to which the above memorandum refers have been taken down to the very foundation, through some defect in the building, and another structure is now being built on the site, by Government, of much larger dimensions, and of the very best material. It is, I believe, to retain the name of St. Matthew’s given to the first building.
A memorandum is then given of some damage done to the church, in 1821, from a violent gala of wind which blew the lead off the dome, &c., and then follows the account of the opening ceremony :
This day the new Church of St. Matthew's, Windsor, was consecrated and opened for divine worship by the Rev. Samuel Marsden, Principal Chaplain of the Territory, assisted by the Revs. Messrs. Cross, resident chaplain, Cartwright, and Hassall. After the ceremony the Holy Sacrament was administered to a goodly company from various parts of the colony. Scarcely an individual was observed but what appeared deeply attentive during the whole service, and the church was nearly filled before the Communion Service was commenced. (Signed) J, Harpur, Windsor, Wednesday 8th December, 1823.
In these entries we gather the history of the commencement of the fine old church which I shall presently describe. The incumbents, since the establishment, have been about eight in number. The first on record is the Rev. Robert Cartwright, whose ministry extended over ten years. Then followed the Revs., J. Cross, E. Smith, Docker, Meares, and Stiles. The latter gentleman was incumbent for thirty-four years, and died in 1867. He was succeeded by his son-in-law, the present respected incumbent, who has had charge of St. Matthew’s since 1867.
The church, being built on the high ground over-looking the river, is a prominent object from all parts of the Hawkesbury district. The style of architecture is Italian in character, it is built of brick and is still one of the most substantial structures of the kind in the colony. The walls are between three and four feet thick; the dimensions of the building are 126 feet in length and 50 feet in width. The roof is slated ; and the flooring of the centre aisle is of stone ; there is ample accommodation within the building for between 700 and 600 persons. It has a bell and clock tower, porch, chancel, and organ gallery. The organ is a very good one, though one of the first built in the colony (Johnson, builder). It has lately been re-arranged and had two new stops put in.
Ascending the church tower with the Rev. Mr. Garnsey, I had a great treat in the view of the country below and around. The height is about 130 feet. We first reached the clock tower. The clock is a fine old time-piece made by Thwaites and Reed, of London, in 1821. The face of the clock is six foot in diameter. Still ascending and admiring the vast strength of the brick and woodwork of former days, we came to the belfry. The bell is a sister one to that in St. James' Church, Sydney. It was cast in the same foundry and came out in the same ship. The windows of the belfry opened to view panoramas of the finest scenery of the kind in Australia. Eastward of the town, below and in the distance, wore Windsor Road and Pitt Town ; north-east, over green fields waving with corn, were the district of Cornwallis, part of the Richmond Bottoms, Wilberforce, Freeman's Reach, and, South-west : the Blue Mountain Ranges, the Gap, in the first tier of hills being prominent, while immediately below were some old family estates of the Coxes and others, looking very pretty. The view from the church tower will well repay a visit to the town.
The porch at the south-west entrance was erected by the late Captain Roxburgh and the late Mr. Robert Fitzgerald in memory of their daughters. Captain Roxburgh's daughter died at the parsonage, Windsor; and Miss Fitzgerald was killed by a fall from her horse. The chancel is in the form of an apse, with semicircular window with yellow lights in the roof. This window was the gift of Michael Metcalfe, Esq. The communion walls, which were inscribed at the time the church was built, contain four tablets having the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and the Lord's Prayer, with the words " Do this in Remembrance of me." The lectern was presented by Mrs. Rouse, and the Communion chairs by Mrs. Coley. On the right hand side of the chancel there are three tab-lets of the Fitzgerald family. On the left of the chancel there is a tablet to the memory of Mrs. Gordon ; and another on the south wall to the memory of Charles Hassall.
The graveyard surrounding Windsor church is full of interest to the old inhabitants, their descendants, and the visitor. I copied a few of the epitaphs. One of the most noticable was as follows :—
Sacred to the memory of Andrew Thompson, Esq., Justice of the Peace and Chief Magistrate of the district of the Hawkesbury, a native of Scotland, who at the age of seventeen years was sent to this country, where from the time of his arrival he distinguished himself by the most persevering industry, and diligent attention to the commands of his superiors.
By these means he raised himself to a station of respectability and affluence, which enabled him to indulge in the generosity of his nature in assisting his fellow creatures in distress more particularly in the calamitous floods of the river Hawkesbury in the years 1806 and 1809. At the immediate risque of his life and permanent injury of his health, he exerted himself continually during three successive days and nights in saving the lives and properties of numbers, who, but for him must have perished. In consequence of Mr. Thomp-son's good conduct Governor Macquarie ap-pointed him Justice of the Peace. This act which had restored him to that rank in society which he had lost, made so deep an impression on his grateful heart as to induce him to bequeath to the Governor one-fourth of his fortune. This most useful and valuable man closed his earthly career on the 22nd day of October, 1810, at the House at Windsor of which he was the principal founder, in the 37th year of his age, with the hope of eternal life. From respect and esteem for the memory of the deceased this monument is erected by Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales.
The following lines are not inappropriate to the condition and appearance of the Windsor church and graveyard at the present time :—
See yonder hallow'd church ; the pious work
Of names once famed, now dubious or forgot,
And buried, midst the wreck of things which were ;
There be interred the more illustrious dead.
The wind is up ; hark ! how it howls ! Methinks
Till now I never heard a sound so dreary ;
Doors creak, and windows clap, and night's foul bird,
Rook'd in the tow'r, screams loud : thy gloomy aisles,
Thick plastered, and hung round with monuments.
Strange things, the neighbours say, have happen'd here ;
Wild shrieks have issued from the hollow tombs ;
Dead men have come again, and walk'd about ;
And the great bell has toll'd, unrung, un-touch'd
(Such tales their cheer at wake or gossiping
Hawkesbury. (1874, January 24).Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 21. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article70471956
The Grave, by Robert Blair (in full): https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/blair/robert/grave/thegrave.html