Hardinge Bridge

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The Hardinge Bridge, before inauguration known as the Sara Ghat Bridge is a steel railway bridge at Sara over the river Ganges(+Padma) located in East Bengal (now western Bangladesh). It is named after Lord Hardinge, who was the Viceroy of India from 1910 to 1916. The bridge is 1.8 kilometres (1.1 mi) long and was constructed to carry the broad gauge(BG) ‘East Bengal Railway’(EBR). [1]

+ The river between the west side of Bangladesh and its confluence with the Jamuna was previously called the Ganges, and is now referred to as the Padma.

Bridge Location and Design

The construction of a railway bridge over the Ganges(+Padma) was proposed in 1889 by the ‘Eastern Bengal Railway’ for easier communication between Calcutta and Eastern Bengal and Assam. In 1902, Francis Joseph Edward Spring prepared a report on the bridge. A technical committee reported that a bridge could be constructed at Sara crossing the lower Ganges between the Paksey and Bheramara Upazila stations on the broad gauge(BG) railway from Khulna to Parbatipur Upazila. [2]

The Consulting Engineer in London was Sir Alexander Meadows Rendel and Frederick Ewart Robertson was an active partner in that firm and was responsible for the designs for the steelwork of, perhaps, the most difficult bridge yet undertaken at Sara over the Lower Ganges. [3].

Bridge Construction

The construction of the ‘Sara Ghat Bridge’ started in 1910 and opened to traffic in 1915, and became the ‘Hardinge Bridge’. Robert Richard Gales from the Public Works Department was Engineer-in-Chief and the construction was a major engineering challenge as fully described in the 'The Engineer' of October 1914 [4].

Hardinge Bridge Committee

The 1935-36 ‘Report on Indian Railways’ [5] recorded that:-
”A Committee of engineers was formed to investigate the situation at the Hardinge Bridge .. and reported in November 1935. They recommended certain works to be undertaken immediately and others in the future ... The main works during 1935-36 was the restoration of the Guide Bank across the original breech ... repairs were carried out on the Right Guide Bank which suffered from some slips ... some stone was added to the apron”

The 1936-37 ‘Report on Indian Railways’ [6] recorded that:-
”During the year the flood in the River Ganges reached the exceptional high flood level of 247.4 ft, which is the highest recorded since the Hardinge Bridge opened in 1915.The piers and protection works withstood the attacks of the river remarkably well, except that on 10th September a length of about 300 ft of the front slope of the Right Guide Bank slipped into the river. Emergency repairs were completed within a week and proved effective during the remainder of the flood season.”
The Committee’s recommendations were carried out “the Sara Protection Bank and was abandoned and work commenced ... on extending up-stream the Raita and Damukdia Protection Banks on realigned curves on reinforcing the Right Hand Guide Bank..Roughly about 40 to 65 per cent of the work was completed during the year.”


An on-line search of the India Office Records (IOR) held at the British Library relating to this construction [7] gives the following: -

  • V/25/720/6 “Railway Board Technical Papers; 1903-1927" which contains ' No 215 The Hardinge Bridge over the Lower Ganges at Sara. Sir F J E Spring. 1921'
  • L/AG/46/52 “Report of the Hardinge Bridge Committee; 1935" with the Catalogue comment 'The Hardinge Bridge over the Ganges between Damukdia (in Kushtia District) and Sara (in Pabna District) was completed in 1915 and linked the southern and northern sections of the Eastern Bengal State Railway. By 1934 changes in the course of the Ganges posed a threat to the structure of the bridge and a committee was appointed to suggest remedial measures.'