The first bridge to span the Hunter River was Pitnacree Bridge which opened in 1866. It was followed by the Belmore Bridge at Lorn in 1869 and the Morpeth Bridge in 1898. It was not until 1952 that the bridge at Hexham replaced punts operating there.
Pitnacree Bridge was on Pitnacree Road (about 500 metres north east of its replacement, Harry Boyle Bridge which opened a few years ago). Pitnacree Bridge was important because it linked East Maitland directly with Largs just as the Harry Boyle Bridge does today.
People living in Paterson could travel to Maitland on Paterson Road through Woodville to Largs then cross Pitnacree Bridge to East Maitland. Until 1965 when Tocal College opened, Tocal Road was a rough dirt track that was little used. People going from Paterson to Maitland used Paterson Road through Woodville.
The Hunter River changed course during a flood in January 1951, leaving the Pitnacree Bridge spanning nothing but silt and sand. It was demolished in 1962 and there is no above-ground evidence of it today although the old river course is still discernable.
Above: Pitnacree Bridge when operational. Below: Pitnacree Bridge being demolished (images: Maitland City Library).
Above: the old river course prior to the flood of 1951 when the river cut across the bend and bypassed Pitnacree Bridge (satellite image Google Earth Pro).
Abbreviations sometimes used on this site: CS = NSW Colonial Secretary; HRA = Historical Records of Australia; LB = Letters to Benches of Magistrates, Justices of the Peace and Superintendents of Police; ML = Mitchell Library (State Library of NSW); NLA = National Library of Australia; NSWGG = NSW Government Gazette; PRO = Public Record Office, London; PSC = Principal Superintendent of Convicts; SG = Sydney Gazette; SH = Sydney Herald; SRNSW = State Records Authority of NSW;