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Victoria Bridge

  • 600928
  • Stokes Street, Townsville

General

Classification
State Heritage
Register status
Entered
Date entered
21 October 1992
Type
Transport—road: Bridge—road
Theme
5.5 Moving goods, people and information: Using motor vehicles
Builder
Royce, GH & Co
Construction period
1888–1980, Victoria Bridge (1888 - 1980s)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century

Location

Address
Stokes Street, Townsville
LGA
Townsville City Council
Coordinates
-19.26036239, 146.81839744

Map

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Significance

Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The design of this central pivoting, swing bridge was a innovative solution to the problem of a bridge over a shallow waterway.

Only one other bridge of a similar design was constructed in Australia.

Victoria Bridge is also held in high regard because it has been a feature of the townscape and played a major part in the development of the city for over one hundred years.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Only one other bridge of a similar design was constructed in Australia.

Criterion FThe place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

The design of this central pivoting, swing bridge was a innovative solution to the problem of a bridge over a shallow waterway.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

Victoria Bridge is also held in high regard because it has been a feature of the townscape and played a major part in the development of the city for over one hundred years.

History

Apart from Victoria Bridge, built in 1888-89, the only other metal girder swing bridge constructed in Australia was the smaller one at Leith in Tasmania, built in 1884. Tenders were called by the Department of Works, Bridges Branch, on 25 September 1885 for the Townsville structure. A tender submitted by G.H. Royce & Co. of Sydney was accepted at a cost of £18,868. The approaches were constructed by Robertson & Stein and cost £1,780.

It was opened to traffic on 2 July 1889 and saw active service until 1975. The innovative design of a swing bridge pivoting on a central drum was an unusual method of allowing river traffic to pass up shallow Ross Creek. The central swing allowed large ships to pass through in the deeper, left hand channel, while smaller craft could take the shallower right lane. During the years after the bridge was opened the commercial centre of Townsville expanded and the warehouse district was gradually confined closer to the mouth of Ross Creek. Ships were no longer required to move up the creek to unload. By 1924 the swing section had ceased to function because of movement of the central drum.

However, vehicular traffic continued to cross for another fifty years. The bridge had seriously deteriorated by the 1980s and was threatened with demolition, until 1988 when it was leased by the Townsville City Council to a developer. Conservation work was undertaken as part of the re-development. A new superstructure of shops was built onto and around the existing fabric and the approaches to the bridge and the banks were landscaped. The kiosks installed along the northern bank are now a favourite meeting place for the community.

Description

Victoria Bridge was originally one of only two metal girder, swing bridges in Australia. It was an all steel structure except for wooden decking. A central drum, from which the central span swung open, housed the gas, free piston Otto engine. A row of modern shops has been built along its length, with a restaurant under the eastern end of the structure. An office is located beneath the western end.

Although the swing span no longer moves, the bridge is structurally sound. The gas engine was removed and in 1991 was mounted at the city end. The addition of a modern superstructure of shops and the removal of the approaches has substantially altered the visual aspect.

Image gallery

Location

Location of Victoria Bridge within Queensland
Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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