Springvale Suspension Bridge
IntroductionBuilt between 1923 and 1925, the Springvale Suspension Bridge spans the Rangitikei River. It is now used as a pedestrian bridge.
The bridge was built to be practical and functional. But in the 21st century we can now admire its engineering and celebrate its rarity – very few examples of this type of suspension bridge remain. It links us to the past in the same way that it once linked the local farming community to the outside world and the future.
The bridge is a rare example of a local early 20th century suspension bridge.
Need for a bridge
In the early 1900s life was hazardous and rivers presented a daily trial for many in remote country areas like this. But it was economics, not safety, which drove the development of this bridge.
A rough, winding track from Hastings reached the Rangitikei River as early as 1885 and the first car drove through the ford on route from Hastings to Taihape in 1908. A footbridge was shifted on site in 1903, but a reliable vehicle crossing was needed if the farmers were to get their produce (wool and meat) over the river and out to the port in Napier.
The need became increasingly urgent after WWI as more remote areas such as the Rangitikei were wanted for farming.
Bridge opened in 1925
In 1922, Sydney Mair of the Rangitikei County Council drew up plans and William Salt of Wanganui was contracted to build the bridge. Construction started in early 1923 and the bridge opened in April 1925.
The bridge’s span is 61 m and its reinforced concrete towers are 7 m tall.
It was known as Erewhon Birdge and later as Springvale Bridge after the nearby sheep station.
Despite the rough and winding nature of the road, it got a lot of use and after 45 years of service the bridge was no longer considered safe for heavy traffic.
In 1970 the road was realigned and the new bridge built alongside the old one.
The bridge spans the Rangitakei River, on the Taihape-Napier Road. It is 41 km north-east of Taihape and and 111 km west of Napier.