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ZAR Road Bridge over Hennops River, 'S(Z)esmylspruit' - Wierda Bridge
Swartkops, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng

Sytze Wopkes WIERDA: Design Architect
John Johnston KIRKNESS: Contractor
Leendert DEKKER: Contractor

Client:Pretoria Council
Style:Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens


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25°49'36.51" S 28°09'26.05" E

The bridge along the main Pretoria-Johannesburg Road was erected at the wagon drift at the then Zesmylspruit (now Hennops River), so named because of its distance from the Pretoria. The initial design was for a 12m span. The first sub-structure was completed in October of 1890 but damaged by flooding in May of 1891. Immediately a second contract for the re-build was awarded. This design was for a 21m span but provided for the re-use of the materials of the already constructed buttresses. The coursed rough-hewn ashlar buttresses and pier originally carried a steel beam structure of German manufacture but this has been replaced by one from Skinningrove, England (date uncertain). The construction was fraught with problems of flooding and damage to the buttress surrounds. When completed the bridge was ceremonially opened in October 1891 by General NJ Smit, then Vice President of the ZAR, who gave recognition to the service and achievements of Wierda by naming the bridge in his honour.

In 1955 the main road to Johannesburg was widened in places. This gave cause for concern to conservation groups that the historical bridge was threatened. Instead the road was widened by constructing a second parallel concrete bridge for the south-bound Johannesburg trafic, and dedicated use of the extant bridge for north-bound Pretoria traffic, an arrangement which persists to this day, hence keeping the historic fabric preserved. It was declared an historical monument (now Provincial Heritage Resource) in 1965, although the bronze badge and plaque have long since been sent to the scrap metal merchants!

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J & Fisher, Roger C. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pg 97, 98, 175
Erasmus, Koos and Friebus, Hein. 2008. Vergete padbrûe van die ZAR : 'n oorsig van die padbrûe wat gebou en beplan is tydens die regering van die Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek. Centurion: Koos Erasmus and Hein Friebus: . pg 39-40