Time spent onsite at the Mann River Bridge while studying a civil engineering degree proved seminal for Ray Wedgwood who would go on to become a bridge design engineer, working on many major NSW structures including Sydney's Gladesville Bridge, Captain Cook Bridge and the Anzac Bridge.
Wedgwood's heyday spanned around 40 years, however the 1960s, were the "golden years of design, construction and maintenance of bridges throughout NSW" and he was at the right place in the right time. Hundreds of bridges were being built each year, according to Associate Professor Rob Wheen, who wrote Mr Wedgwood's obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald recently.
"Wedgwood's career progressed from design engineer, resident engineer, supervising engineer, bridge design engineer to the pinnacle of chief engineer (bridges) with responsibility for every bridge in NSW," Prof Wheen wrote.
Ray Wedgwood grew up in Bellingen and studied his degree at the University of Sydney. It was associated with a traineeship at the Department of Main Roads. During the summer breaks, Wedgwood would work across a number of DMR offices in northern NSW in areas such as surveying, rock quarries, road works and bridge maintenance.
During this time the Gladesville Bridge – the world's longest span concrete arch bridge - was under construction. Wedgwood was there as a final year student for the lifting of an arch rib from its temporary steel falsework using flatjacks and would return in 1964 as a qualified civil engineer, actively involved with the lifting of another of the four arch ribs.
Following his graduation, he was appointed to the bridge design section of the DMR and began working on the curved bridge at Mt White, north of Sydney. It was a time when calculations and drawings were done meticulously by hand.
Wedgwood was involved in the development of many bridges but the Anzac Bridge was his major achievement. He made the decision to adopt a cable-stayed bridge with a span of 345 metres with the main tower supports on dry land as a major power cable lay beneath the water that served the City of Sydney.
It may be a little known fact that at one point this passionate engineer designed two extra lanes to go above the existing eastern side lanes on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, however, this project didn't go ahead. Ray Wedgwood retired in 2004, but kept an active interest in bridge history and heritage engineering.
Vale Raymond John Lloyd Wedgwood: 27 May 1942 – 5 March 2020