Restoration of the Old Wooden Bridge to Woodbridge Island

Source: Square One

The historic Old Wooden Bridge at Milnerton connects Woodbridge Island to the Milnerton mainland. The Bridge was constructed out of exotic Jarra wood in 1901 by the Fortress Company of Royal Engineers to provide military access to the island. The bridge is believed to be the only of its kind in South Africa. It remained in use until the 1980s and was declared as a National Monument in 1987. During the 1990s, the bridge began to fall into disrepair and it was declared unsafe for the public in 2007.A second bridge was constructed in 1984 and currently connects the island to the mainland, providing vehicular access to the ocean and the Milnerton Lighthouse.

The Old Wooden Bridge is protected under the National Heritage Resources Act and the City of Cape Town endeavours to undertake a restoration process for the bridge. The intention is to refurbish and reconstruct the bridge, while ensuring that it becomes integrated with its surroundings, allowing for optimal public use.

Square One was appointed to design the public interface on either side of the Diep River estuary. The Eastern bank accommodates a paved boardwalk, interfacing with the river’s edge. Fishing/ seating floating jetties allow visitors to get closer to the water. Concrete retaining walls provide structuring elements to accommodate generous lawn embankments. Proposed planting areas enliven the space and allow it to become grounded into the natural surroundings. A sculptural bench is settled into the pedestrian pathway, allowing moments for rest and relaxation. A timber deck and lookout platform provides views of Table Mountain and beyond. Reed planting adjacent to the bridge allows it to become settled into the landscape, while creating natural habitat.

At the western bank’s interface with the bridge, gabion retaining walls and lawn terraces provide a consolidated edge to the river. Concrete retaining walls allow for the placement of softening planting areas and timber seating. A refurbished jetty allows access to the water’s edge, creating opportunities for a variety of recreational activities. A pedestrian walkway leading from the bridge connects the bridge to the Milnerton Lighthouse and coastline. The surrounding parking area is reconfigured to create generous lawn areas along a processional route towards the Lighthouse and the coastline beyond.