The original Jervois Bridge was opened in 1878 as the only link between the Port and the Lefevre Peninsula.
Former resident Frank Morgan has a long family history with the Control Tower. He recently visited from Western Australia with his wife Vera to see it again in person while it is being stored at our Kilburn Depot. We are planning a project to restore the bridge’s original Control Tower to its former glory before installing it at a location in the vicinity of its original home.
The swing mechanism on the original bridge was controlled by a person sitting in the wooden Control Tower on top of the steel gantry that crossed the road. Throughout his childhood, Frank’s father, Ross, would tell him stories about his great grandfather, John Gibson, who moved from Scotland to South Australia in 1878, to become the first engineer to look after and operate the bridge.
At that time, Port Adelaide was a bustling maritime gateway for the state of South Australia, and John Gibson was at the heart of it. John lived his life in Glanville so that he could quickly get to the bridge at any time of the day or night to let ships pass.
Frank told us, “When electric trams were introduced, there was no power on the central part of the bridge, only on the roads on either side. Dad told me that the trams had to speed up when approaching it so that their momentum would carry them across to the other side to pick up power again.”
Frank’s father (John Gibson’s grandson) died in July aged 98 and this spurred Frank’s recent research into the Jervois Bridge. He said, “My family would love to see it restored and have it displayed for Port residents to see. It is an important part of the history of the Port and Semaphore, and is one of our great family stories.”
This important piece of Port Adelaide’s history was awarded a Historic Engineering Marker in 1994 due to its technological, historic and social significance.