Description of Historic Place
The Radial Arch, built in 1909, is located on Queen Street between Main Street and Charles Street. Erected to support a wooden trestle bridge spanning the Holland River, it is reinforced concrete parabolic arch with a clear span of fifteen metres, and a rise of seven metres.
The Radial Arch has been designated for its historical and architectural significance by the Town of Newmarket, By-law number 1997-37.
The Metropolitan railway company was incorporated in 1877 and was gradually extended as a horse car line up Yonge Street to Eglinton Avenue. The line was electrified in 1889 and reached York Mills in 1890. In 1899 the line was extended through Richmond Hill, Aurora and to Newmarket. The Radial Arch was built in 1909 and replaced one section of the trestle bridge, where a section had collapsed due to rot at the log abutment. After the railway discontinued operations in 1930, the trestle bridge was demolished. The earth fill eroded from around the concrete arch and became surrounded by vegetation. The Radial Arch was quickly forgotten.
In 1978, the South Lake Simcoe Conservation Authority planned to demolish the structure as part of a scheme to deepen and straighten the Holland River to facilitate flood control. The public became aware and was in favour of saving the radial arch. In 1983, a historical plaque was dedicated to the Radial Arch and in 1997 the arch was designated by the Town of Newmarket.
The electric railways or radial railways, as they were often called, grew from the major cities and towns and were the primary factor in the development of commuter suburbs and residential communities in the years before the First World War. The radial line was closed down in 1930 due to the increased use of cars and buses. The Radial Arch is one of the last surviving remnants of the electric railway system, which linked many of Ontario's southern communities. The Radial Arch was one of the first concrete bridges built in Ontario, and one of the earliest remaining reinforced concrete structures in Canada.
One of the earliest reinforced concrete arches in Canada, the Newmarket radial railway arch was built in 1909 by the Toronto and York Radial Railway Company. It was designed by Barber and Young, an innovative civil engineering firm, and it was constructed by O.L. Hinks and Sons. The bridge supported part of a trestle bridge, spanning the Holland River and Grand Trunk Railway Tracks. The radial arch is an outstanding example of modern functional bridge design. This graceful parabolic arch has a clear span of 15 meters, and a rise of 7 meters.
Sources: Town of Newmarket heritage designation By-law, 1997-37 March 17, 1997; Heritage Newmarket file: 515 Queen Street.
Character defining elements that illustrate the heritage value of the Radial Arch include its:
- reinforced concrete construction
- parabolic arch with a clear span of 15 metres and a rise of 7 metres
- location spanning the Holland River