Sugar Bridge – Bufflesjags

sugar bridge.pdf
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sugar bridge.pdf

 

 

sugar bridge 2.odp
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sugar bridge 2.odp

 

This historic bridge, a grade II monument, is another example of ‘ Demolition by neglect’

The entry in Hans Fransen’s “The old buildings of the Cape’ (Jonathan Ball 2004) reads, “OLD BUFFLESJAGS RIVIER BRIDGE” . For the important crossing here, a ferry was installed in 1825. A bridge a little distance south of the main road was begun in 1845 and opened in 1852.

It has a length of 120m with 10 heavy stone buttress-like piers (one of which has subsided into the river soil by at least 1m). The teak struts and road deck were reputedly removed from the deck of the Robert and taken from Malgas by the Barry ship, the Kadie (JJ Smit ‘Die paaie passe ….’ (thesis Phd) 1974.

According to Edmund Burrows (“Overberg Odyssey” 1994 privately printed p.44) the groote wagen weg crossed the Buffesjag river at “…the upper drift at the old farm Bakkelijs Plaats …. close to the old road bridge ….one mile above the farm Rotterdam. The old road bridge, a noble structure, still standing and consisting of massive red sandstone pillars supporting a wooden platform, was built by the Royal Engineers in 1845,and it carried the Eastern Highway until the 1950s.”

The bridge is also called the ‘Sugar Bridge’; legend has it that they ran out of cement during consrtruction and used sugar instead. Another local story about the bridge (told to me second hand) was that the stone for the bridge was brought from Swellendam by ox wagon. On the way, one of the wagonners was behind the wagon working the brake when a large stone fell off the load and killed him. The stone was too heavy to move and it is still there, next to the N2 and the entrance to Applebosch Farm, identified as “Antonij’s klip” by a small plaque.

Submitted by Penny Pistorius

Swellendam Heritage Association

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