Bridge Street, at the northern end of the city, owes its name to the bridge that was erected to cross the Tank Stream. This was the first bridge erected by the British settlers in Australia. The Tank Stream, the only source of natural water, was the reason that the first settlers chose Sydney Cove for their settlement and not one of the other coves along the harbour. The first bridge, a timber structure, was built soon after the colonists settled, and those using the bridge were charged a toll of a halfpenny per head. The first of many tollways in Australia. The bridge is shown in the chart of 1800
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The Sydney Gazette (May 26 1804) urged the able-bodied among its readers to lend a hand in building a replacement stone bridge and added: "If on the other hand the work should be left to be finished by the labour of a few feeble women, the length of time likely to intervene will be attended with a portion of inconvenience that must continue to be severely felt by the owners of carriages and horses". The appeal had its desired effect and the bridge was quickly built. Gov. Phillip permitted the early settlers to occupy Crown lands adjoining the Tank Stream, but no titles were given to their holdings. A fifteen-metre green belt was preserved on either side and cutting of timber and grazing of stock forbidden. Australia's first "green" environmental plan. Before long, however, the flow in the stream became scanty and, though people dug wells and found other springs, the settlement was only in its second year when it found itself in dire need of more water.
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Bridge Street Tramway:
In 1880, the first tram line that operated from adjacent to the Redfern Railway Terminal to Elizabeth Street at Hunter Street, was extended from Hunter Street to Bridge Street, and a terminal yard was created on land behind the former Treasury Building, on the corner of Bridge and Phillip Streets. This terminal grew into a minor depot, with seven storage sidings and coke and water facilities.
Later that year, the first suburban line opened for traffic between Alison Road, Randwick (at the Racecourse) and Bridge Street. This line was extended into Randwick shopping centre in March 1881, whilst at the same time, a branch was led from Taylor Square along Oxford Street to Ocean Street (known as the Waverley Line). The Randwick Line was extended to Coogee in 1883.
Other notable buildings in Bridge Street.
The Burns Philp Building has state historical significance for its relationship, and continuous association from 1901-1997, with the Burns Philp Company, a major Australian maritime company who traded with the Pacific Islands.
The Burns Philp Building was built and established in 1899. Before the building the land was occupied by early settlers and eventually utilised by a lumberyard and a series of five buildings occupied by a number of small business' including a watchmaker, loan office, tea-rooms, a bedding manufacturer and a warehouse.