By Cathy Jones
The Great Northern Railway (or Main North Line) starts at Strathfield Station and travels to the Central Coast, Hunter and New England districts in New South Wales. The railway line originally crossed Parramatta Road as a level crossing. Following complaints and representations by local councils to the NSW Railway Commissioner, the level crossing was replaced with an overhead railway bridge in 1914.
This bridge is known as locally as Arnott’s Bridge as it has carried advertisements for Arnott’s Biscuits since the 1930s. The advertisements have been updated over time.
The Arnott’s Biscuit factory was located to the north of the bridge and operated from 1906 to 1997. The head office of Arnotts is still located at this site. Many of original factory buildings still exist and have been readapted into offices, restaurants, cafes and shops. This area is now known as the Bakehouse Quarter.
The bridge remains as a landmark with the painted Arnott’s Biscuits sign featuring the famous Arnotts parrot. The bridge is heritage listed on the State Heritage Register.
Arnotts Biscuits has a significant association with the Strathfield district. Many members of the Arnott’s family lived in Strathfield including its founder William Arnott and his sons and grandsons, who managed the business after his death in 1901. The first Sydney factory at Forest Lodge was opened in 1894. In 1905, the Arnott family wanting to expand, decided that a larger factory was required. Requiring access to the railway for transportation, the Arnott’s purchased a six and half acre site at Homebush in 1906. The Homebush factory which opened in 1908 was eventually the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and exported biscuits from Homebush to the rest of the world.
Homebush (Parramatta Road) Railway Underbridge, http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=4800290