1935: An Iconic Bridge Opens in Southern Africa

1935: An Iconic Bridge Opens in Southern Africa

85 years ago come December this year.

Transportation History

December 20, 1935

Birchenough Bridge made its debut in what was then the British Crown colony of Southern Rhodesia (now the independent Republic of Zimbabwe). Sir Herbert Stanley, governor of Southern Rhodesia, officially opened the bridge, which was constructed across the Save River (also known as the Sabi River) to serve as a major link along the route between the town of Chipinge and the village of Buhera in the eastern part of the colony. The London-based Guardian reported that the bridge was built to provide the region with access “to the important markets of Salisbury [now Zimbabwe’s capital city of Harare], [the city of] Bulawayo, and the Union of South Africa [the present-day Republic of South Africa].”

As the time of its opening, Birchenough Bridge — with a length of 1,080 feet (329 meters) — was surpassed only by the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia and the Bayonne Bridge…

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