1935 – Opening of Birchenough Bridge

Opening of Birchenough Bridge

20 December, 1935

Birchenough Bridge is the name for both a bridge across the Save River and a village next to the bridge. Birchenough Bridge is named after Sir Henry Birchenough.

The bridge was funded at a cost of £145 000.00 and planned by the Beit Trust, a foundation chaired at the time by Sir Henry Birchenough whose ashes are buried beneath the structure of the bridge. Ralph Freeman, the bridge’s designer, was also the structural designer on the Sydney Harbour Bridge and consequently the two bridges bear a close resemblance, although Birchenough is only two-thirds as long as the Australian bridge.

It was built by Dorman Long and was officially opened on 20 December, 1935 by the Governor of Southern Rhodesia, Sir H J Stanley. At a length of 1,080 feet (329 m) it was the third longest single-arch suspension bridge in the world at the time.

In the 1970’s a 40-tonne load limit was imposed on the bridge but in 1984 the bridge was widened (roadway: 7.2 m to 10 m wide) and strengthened as part of the World Bank’s Highway Project One. The village which sprang up next to the bridge has become the centre of a small-scale farming area.