|Lansdowne bridge was designed and supervised by David Lennox. Born in Ayr, Scotland in 1788 David Lennox was trained as a stonemason. He worked on Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge at Anglesey in Wales and on Gloucester Bridge where he learnt the sound construction principles he used on his Colonial projects. He emigrated to Australia in 1832.
He immediately found employment as a mason with the government. While working at the Legislative Council Chambers in Macquarie Street, Sydney, Lennox met the Surveyor-General Sir Thomas Mitchell.
The Surveyor-General lost little time in submitting Lennox's credentials to the Governor, describing him as 'a very well qualified person recently arrived in the Colony.' Acting on Mitchell's recommendation, Governor Bourke provisionally appointed Lennox as a Sub-Inspector of Bridges at a salary of 120 pounds per annum. In June 1833 the position was confirmed by London as Superintendent of Bridges.
In 1832 a sum of 1083 pound was voted for the construction of a bridge at the point where the main Southern Road crossed Prospect Creek. Mitchell recommended Lennox as overseer because of his success on other projects. In May 1833 Lennox moved into the Greyhound Inn near the site of the bridge.
Lennox asked for the retention of convicts who had worked particularly well on the Lapstone bridge and also asked the Governor to permit removal of the prisoner's irons for the remainder of their sentences. Governor Bourke agreed in the case of four of the convicts with a promise to review the request in six months for two of the others.
After a lengthy search, stone of excellent quality was found on the right bank about eleven kilometres downstream from the site of the bridge. As the quarry site was near the river bank it was decided to punt the stone to the construction site by making the best use of the tides.
In July 1833 Lennox told Mitchell of a mutiny that had occurred at the quarry while he had been away on an inspection tour. Some of the convicts had rebelled and had consumed the contents of a nearby liquor still. Returning to the camp drunk they threatened to kill the supervisor and destroy the camp and quarrying equipment. The police from Liverpool were called and arrested the offenders. Retribution at Liverpool Court was swift and savage; those who were spared the chain gang received up to fifty lashes of the 'cat'.
On 1 January 1834, Governor Bourke visited the site of the bridge to lay the foundation stone. Within hours of the laying of the inscription plate it was stolen. Lennox made arrangements to obtain a duplicate plate but the original was found and restored to the bridge.
On 7 June 1834 Lennox applied for more labourers, the bridge being at a stage where the centring could commence. This was the construction of a rigid timber frame to hold each stone in place until the arch became self-supporting. It was a critical process and any inaccuracies would cause instability or collapse the arch.
Upon receiving a report that the bridge was nearing completion, Governor Bourke selected Tuesday, 26 January 1836 for the official opening date, as this coincided with the 48th anniversary of the Colony's foundation. The Lansdowne Bridge was not ready for several months as the Toll House was not complete. Once tolls started to be collected however, the bridge soon recovered its cost and in 1844 annual receipts were 685 pounds. (George 1982)