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NZASM Southern Line Bridge over the Vaal River
Vereeniging, Gauteng

NZASM: Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij: Architect

Type:Railway Bridge
Style:Industrial Archaeology


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26°40'54.61" S 27°56'17.27" E Alt: 1434m

This was an important set piece in linking the Southern Line to the Cape Government Railways through the Free State Republic. The design was challenging and the NZASM, feeling financially constrained, did not rush into construction. However the Cape was keen to have the connection steadily established and agreed to share costs. The bridge was designed for six 35m inverted truss spans on abutments and five piers 12m above the water of the river.

The masonry contract was awarded to the Dutch Amsterdam based firm Geveke & Co who soon ran into serious difficulties. The steel superstructure was to be supplied by the Gutehoffnungschütte steelworks of Oberhausen, Germany, which started arriving in 1892 through the ports of East London and Port Elizabeth. When it was realised that the contractor would not meet deadlines the contract was disbanded and the NZASM took over the works. When the first trains were ready to run along the new lines the bridge was not yet in place. The in-house NZASM engineer AGA VAN EELDE designed a timber trestle standby bridge which was erected in a record time of two months.

By November of 1892 the bridge was taken in service. During the Anglo-Boer War the centre span was dynamited by retreating Boer forces, but re-instated by the advancing British forces. In 1955 the girders were removed when the bridge was replaced. The piers, set in concrete after 1900, do service as supports for a water pipeline.

Writings about this entry

De Jong, RC, Van der Waal, GM & Heydenrych, DH. 1988. NZASM 100 : 1887-1899, the buildings, steam engines and structures of the Netherlands South African Railway Company. Pretoria: C. Van Rensburg Publications on behalf of the Human Sciences Research Council. pg 165, 166, 173, 175, 232