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Road Bridge over the Great Kei River
Komgha district, Eastern Cape

Joseph NEWEY: Project Architect
George BERKLEY: Engineer



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32°30'29.44" S 27°58'43.09" E Alt: 160m

A substantial steel lattice girder bridge completed in 1879. Eleven pairs of rivetted circular cast iron columns, filled with concrete, support the twelve spans of the lattice girder bridge (each approx. 28.5 m long and approx. 4 m wide). The columns are capped with decorative hollow cast iron moulded capitals. The lattice girders were fabricated of rivetted hot rolled steel sections. The road bed is supported on an assembly of folded flat plates and railway lines forming a permanent shutter for a concrete slab, surmounted with a close packed layer of pieces of hardwood approx. 100 mm thick - placed end grain up - which is in turn capped by a more modern layer of asphalt. The road bed is marked at the junction between adjacent spans with an overlapping steel movement joint.

The bridge was manufactured by WESTWOOD BAILLIE & Co, ENGINEERS & CONTRACTORS, LONDON, ENGLAND as evidenced by the numerous rectangular cast iron manufacturer's plaques mounted on the inside top face of the top rails of each bridge section.

Following the destruction of the timber Rail Bridge - a short distance downstream - in a major flood on 3 October 1917, the railway line was diverted over the Great Kei Road Bridge. This dual arrangement of road and rail remained in place for 32 years until 1949 when the Great Kei Rail Bridge was completed further upstream.

The name of the bridge and the completion date are recorded in v-cut lettering on the dressed stone wall at the south approach, namely:


(William MARTINSON, January 2012)

The photographs on the right are stills taken from "Safari 1948" compiled by Arthur and Kate Tode, in the collection of the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Pennsylvania, USA. Footage located and identified by Denver Webb and submitted by William MARTINSON. View Safari 1948

Writings about this entry

Walters, Dennis. 2014. Bridging the Eastern Cape : the life and work of Joseph Newey. East London: Coral Tree Press. pg 60-71