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T-girder bridges, Part 1.

Extracts from Monash Bridges: Typology study; reinforced concrete bridges in Victoria 1897-1917.
Concept and History: Lesley Alves 1998. Additional technical input: Alan Holgate and Geoff Taplin.

Bridges in the Shire of Ararat.

Maroona Bridge
Half elevation, half longitudinal cross-section October 1913
Extract from a drawing in the J Thomas Collection

In the first decade of the twentieth century large pastoral properties in the Ararat district were broken up for closer settlement, changing the landscape, as the Ararat Advertiser put it, "from sheep walk to thriving agricultural settlement". [1] With closer settlement came the need for new roads, and bridges to carry the roads over the Shire's flood-prone streams. The young Shire Engineer, Robert Speed, was aware of the advantages of reinforced concrete. He had experimented with new technology himself, building a bridge with a steel girder cased in concrete. [2] It is likely that Speed opened negotiations with the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. after the spring flood of 1909. In November he asked for a quote for two new bridges to replace timber bridges washed away by floodwaters. He told the Company that he was satisfied that a Monier structure was the best. The Company submitted designs for the two bridges, and for two others that were required, offering a package price of £1268. Although he did not need to sell the idea of reinforced concrete to Speed, Monash did need to convince the Ararat Shire Council that it was worth spending a bit more - "only one fifth more than timber" - to have a "permanent structure, proof against fire flood and decay". Speed recommended Monash's designs to his council and the firm was contracted to build four reinforced concrete girder bridges. [3]

The first two built were O'Halloran's over Mt Cole Creek near Crowlands township, with two 25 foot (7.62 metre) spans and the slightly smaller Dog Rock Creek Bridge on the Avoca Road. During the building of O'Halloran's a flood washed away the props under the timbering, but due to the efforts of foreman Thomas Wright and his men the bridge was saved. Nevertheless the incident cast doubt on the bridge's stability in the minds of some Councillors and prompted some "adverse comments in the neighbourhood". A severe test of 15 to 17 tons was carried out to get rid of any possible doubt. [4] Both bridges were opened in April 1910, with a celebration by the "progressive shire council" proud of their adoption of modern technology. Percy Fairway represented the Company at the opening in the absence of Monash who was on an overseas trip at the time. [5] A year later O'Halloran's bridge was damaged by floods which scoured the creek bed at the east abutment. Council paid the Company to carry out the necessary repairs. [6]

The Company obviously gained the confidence of Council and established a good working relationship with Speed. Several more reinforced concrete bridges were commissioned by the council over the next few years, and by the mid 1930s the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. had built 18 bridges in the Shire of Ararat. They were all small bridges of no more than three spans, situated on country roads where they provided a vital transport link for farmers taking their produce to the railway. Of these eighteen, only four positively identified examples are known to be still standing. Changes to the rural economy and farming practices have meant that the district has reverted to a sparsely settled landscape. The little bridges are reminders of a once "thriving agricultural settlement".

The four bridges, as a collection, are useful in demonstrating the development of bridge design over a few years from 1910 to 1913, particularly showing the change from having the middle part of the girder unreinforced to providing shear reinforcing in the full span of the girder.

The assistance of John McKenzie, former Ararat Shire Engineer, in researching these bridges is gratefully acknowledged.

  1. Ararat Advertiser, 22 March 1910.
  2. Speed showed Lynch a sketch of the bridge, Lynch to Monash, 22 January 1910, Company records Box 68 File 761.
  3. Correspondence 18 November 1909 to 7 January 1910, Company records.
  4. Correspondence to Wright 17 & 23 March 1910, Letterbook 1909-10, and to Speed 26 May, File 761.
  5. Ararat Advertiser, 22 April 1910.
  6. Lynch, 21 April 1911, File 761.

See also:
Ararat Advertiser, A District of Promise, 1911
Banfield, L., Green Pastures and Gold: A History of Ararat, Mullaya Publications, Canterbury 1974
Shire of Ararat, Naming of Edgarley Bridge, October 1973
Shire of Ararat, Opening of Lexington Bridge, August 1981.

Lesley Alves 1998.


Ararat: Dare's Culvert.

Location:Un-named creek, Salvation Gully Road,
Norval, near Armstrong, VR map 56 F5.
Municipality:Rural City of Ararat, formerly Shire of Ararat.
Description:Girder, 1 × 4.3 metre clear span.
Dates.Tender November 1912, completed January 1913.
Status (1998):Still in use.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

History.

Dare's culvert was included in the first contract for four bridges in the shire. Construction probably commenced immediately after the completion of the first two bridges in April 1910 and was completed in June without any notable incidents. [1]

In the early 1980s, because an erosion gully was working its way towards the bridge from the downstream side, the invert (floor) and outlet were concreted and a 'drop structure' (step) was provided to dissipate the energy of the water and decrease its velocity. [2]

  1. Company records Box 68 File 761.
  2. Information supplied by John McKenzie.

Significance.

Dare's Culvert is typical of the small single span reinforced concrete bridges built in country areas by John Monash and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. in the second decade of the twentieth century, although it has been altered. It is the oldest of only 4 remaining of 18 built in the Shire of Ararat, and is a reminder of the local engineer's willingness to try new technology.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

Although described on the drawing as a culvert this small single span bridge originally had no invert (floor). It has a clear span of 14 feet (4.27 m) and consists of four girders with no shear reinforcing in the middle half of the span. The original iron handrails have been replaced by steel guardrails.


Ararat: Cathcart Road Bridge.

Location:Denicull Creek, Cathcart Denicull Creek Road, VR map 56 G7.
Municipality:Rural City of Ararat, formerly Shire of Ararat.
Description:Girder, 1 × 6.1 metre clear span.
Dates:Tender December 1911, completed April 1911.
Status (1998):Still in use.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

A historic image of this bridge may be seen online in the University of Melbourne Archives Image Collection UMAIC. Search under Record ID for: UMA/I/6419. Any enquiry to UMA concerning this image should refer to its Location Number: BWP/23944. The photograph is taken from the creek bed and shows one abutment and part of the deck. It is dated 15 February 1912. A closer view of the abutment has Location No. BWP/23945.

History.

The Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. was the only tenderer for the two bridges at Cathcart Road and Jackson's Creek. Tenders for both were accepted in December 1911, Carthcart Bridge being for £312. After work commenced difficulties with the site necessitated alterations to the design, and the length of two wing walls was increased. The bridges were completed in March 1911. Because it was in poor repair and on a bad road alignment, Jackson's bridge was replaced in 1994. However Cathcart Bridge remains in use. [1]

1.  Company records, Box 82, File 862. Information supplied by John McKenzie.

Significance.

Cathcart Road Bridge is typical of the small reinforced concrete bridges built in country Victoria by John Monash and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. in the second decade of the twentieth century. It is one of only four remaining of 18 built in the Shire of Ararat, and is a reminder of the local engineer's willingness to try new technology.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

Typical of the small bridges constructed in the Shire of Ararat by the Company, this has a single 20 foot (6.10 m) clear span of 4 girders. It is 14 feet (4.27 m) wide, and on a skew. The middle part of the girder is unreinforced against shear. The abutments are the column-and-wall type. One of the wing walls is very long at 34 feet (10.4 m). The original iron handrailing has been replaced by guardrails of unusual design.


Ararat: Edgarley Bridge.

Location:Hopkins River, Delacombe Way Willaura, VR Map 74 E2.
Municipality:Rural City of Ararat, formerly Shire of Ararat.
Description:Girder, 3 × 6.1 metre spans.
Dates:Tender November 1912, completed January 1913.
Status (1998):Standing, no longer in use.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

History.

Edgarley Bridge was the ninth bridge constructed by the Company in the Shire of Ararat. The proposal for a bridge on one of the new roads constructed in the Willaura Closer Settlement wheat district prompted some opposition from those in the community who felt that there was insufficient traffic on the road to warrant the cost of the bridge. They were not heeded. Willaura had been proclaimed a township in January 1912, and growth was expected. [1] Tenders were called for a reinforced concrete bridge in November, and the Company's tender at £453, being the only one received, was accepted. Evidence suggests that John Monash was the chief design engineer for this bridge. [2]

The bridge was finished in January 1913, in time for the harvest. Its heavy use by the harvest traffic satisfied the local press that the expense was worthwhile, and that it was "a decided benefit to the Shire". [3]

A very low bridge, it was subject to frequent floodings of the Hopkins River, however it remained in use for 60 years. In 1973 a new Edgarley Bridge, was built on a raised and re-aligned road. [4] The old bridge still stands a few metres downstream.

  1. Ararat Advertiser, 6 January 1912, 14 January 1913.
  2. Ibid., 9 November 1912, Company records, Box 88, File 909.
  3. Ararat Advertiser, 14 January 1913.
  4. Shire of Ararat, 'Naming of Edgarley Bridge', 16 October 1973.

Significance.

Edgarley Bridge is typical of the many small reinforced concrete bridges built in country Victoria by the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. in the years immediately preceding World War 1. It demonstrates a stage in the development of reinforced concrete bridge building in Victoria and is the earliest extant bridge to show the use of shear reinforcing the full length of the span. As one of only four remaining of the 18 bridges built in the Shire of Ararat by the Company, the bridge represents the willingness of a Shire Engineer to adopt new technology. The bridge is also historically significant as a reminder of the agricultural settlement of the district following subdivision of the large pastoral holdings.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

This is a very low bridge with three spans. The middle span is 20 feet (6.10 m) from centre to centre of the piers while the end spans measure 20 feet from centre of pier to face of abutment. The overall width is 16 feet (4.88 m). There are four girders. This seems to be the first extant bridge in which shear reinforcement was provided over the whole span. The piers and abutments are simple walls 12 inches thick (305mm). As a result there is no need for a cross-head on the columns. The bridge is in poor condition [1997], with considerable spalling of the concrete, which actually reveals the pattern of shear reinforcing in one girder. All that remain of the iron handrails are the angle iron supports.


Ararat: Maroona Bridge.

Location:Hopkins River, Helendoite Road Maroona, VR Map 56 F9.
Municipality:Rural City of Ararat, formerly Shire of Ararat.
Description:Girder, 2 × 9.6 metre spans.
Dates:Contract October 1913, completed December 1913.
Status (1998):Standing, in use.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

History.

Maroona Bridge was the eleventh bridge constructed in the Shire of Ararat by the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. Like Edgarley Bridge, it was an important transport link at harvest time, and the Company promised to have it completed in time for the harvest. By the time it was built in 1913, the process had become routine for the Shire Engineer and the Company's workers, and the whole process was completed in just two months, with little public comment. It cost £481 and was completed in December 1913. The records make no mention of a test or opening. [1]

Significance.

Maroona Bridge is typical of the many small reinforced bridges built in country Victoria by the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. in the years immediately preceding World War 1. It demonstrates an early stage in the development of reinforced concrete bridge building. As one of only four remaining of the 18 bridges built in the Shire of Ararat by the Company, it represents the willingness of a Shire Engineer to adopt new technology. The bridge is also a reminder of the agricultural settlement of the district following subdivision of the large pastoral holdings.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

This bridge was designed about a year after the Edgarley Bridge, and shows some different design features. With two spans 31 foot 6 inch (9.60 m) from centre of pier to face of abutment, the bridge has an overall width of 16 feet (4.90 m) which was achieved by three girders instead of the four girders of the previous Ararat bridges. The bridge has been built with a pier of three columns, one under each girder, although the drawings show only two columns under the outer girders. A cross girder links the three main girders. The cylinder foundations are made of a column of precast reinforced concrete pipes into which a reinforcing cage has been inserted, and the whole filled with concrete. These columns are shown taken down to, and let into the rock. The columns are joined by a transom just above the level of the cylinder foundations. The abutments are of the usual column-and-wall type. The beams are reinforced against shear for the full span and are in good condition. However spalling on the underside of the cantilevered slab has exposed the reinforcing iron. The original iron piping handrail has been replaced by steel guardrails. [1997]

University of Melbourne Archives has historic images of Maroona Bridge just after completion and before removal of falsework. Location Numbers BWP/24070 and BWP/24071.


The Elwood Bridges.

From 1905 to 1907 the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. built seven bridges in the Elwood district. Six of them were built across the Elwood Canal for the Public Works Department, all under separate contracts. The other bridge was built over the Elster Creek for the Towns of Brighton and Caulfield. Apart from one built at Stawell Street Ballarat by Monash & Anderson in 1904, the first two Elwood bridges are the first reinforced concrete girder bridges built by the firm, and the first of their kind built in Victoria, and they are still standing. The Stawell Street bridge had to be replaced because of problems appearing soon after construction.

The Elwood Canal.

Early attempts to solve the drainage problems in the low lying swampy land in the Elsternwick and Elwood districts were uncoordinated and of limited effect. A drain cut along the Elster Creek through Elsternwick park by the Brighton Borough Council in 1871 brought increased drainage problems to the St Kilda Council, which was obliged to continue the drain down to the sea. The drains had little effect on the Elwood Swamp, north of Glen Huntly Road, which had become a smelly receptacle for rubbish. In the late 1880s the Public Works Department tackled the problem, with a scheme to fill the swamp and construct a canal from the sea to Glen Huntly Road. This also proved inadequate, as the canal received the offensive wastes from the houses in the Elster Creek Catchment, as yet unsewered, and silt deposits reduced the canal's capacity. [1]

In 1904 the Public Works Department commenced a new scheme of extensive improvements to the district's drainage, spending over £30,000. The scheme included reclaiming the swamp by raising the land level with earth filling, paving the existing canal with bricks and concrete, and extending the canal by the construction of the Elsternwick Main Drain from Glen Huntly Road to the new railway station at Elsternwick South. [2] These works, coupled with the development of transport facilities, contributed to the district's development, making more land available and accessible for urban settlement. The swamp drainage provided new land for subdivision at Elwood. Another suburb was taking shape around the new railway station, named Gardenvale following a naming competition conducted by the local press in 1906. [3] The other important development for the district was the construction of the Brighton - St Kilda Electric Tramway, which opened in May 1906. [4]

The new Elsternwick Main Drain was 130 feet wide and three feet deep, with turfed slopes. A central pitched channel carried the water in ordinary times and the main channel was deemed sufficient for the heaviest flood. [5] By January 1906 the section through the Elsternwick Park to just beyond New Street was completed, and by the end of 1907 the canal was finished as far as Asling Street. The canal was bridged progressively as each section was finished. Upstream from Gardenvale Station the Elster Creek remained in its natural state [6] and remained the responsibility of local government. In 1907 the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. built a bridge of similar design to the St Kilda Street Bridge to carry the Point Nepean Road over the creek for the Towns of Brighton and Caulfield.

Over the years further improvements have been made to the Elsternwick Main Drain including the construction of the Elwood Diversion Drain in 1958 and the reconstruction of the channel to triple its capacity in 1963. [7]

The Elwood Canal provided John Monash with the opportunity to develop reinforced concrete girder technology for bridge building. The low-lying flat land required low bridges of short spans, where girder bridges were preferable to arches. Earlier bridges constructed over the canal had been "iron trough girder and concrete bridges". [8] These were made by spanning the canal with iron troughing, then pouring concrete on top to fill the troughs and form a flat deck. Monash and his company were able to offer a cheaper alternative in reinforced concrete. The developing design and construction techniques can be seen over the three year span of the seven contracts, with a standard design emerging for the last three. Monash also offered to construct a bridge similar to the St Kilda Street bridge for the new tramway for £850, however his tender was unsuccessful. [9] The Public Works Department stuck with the iron trough girder and concrete construction for the tramway bridge across the canal.

The bridges were just a small part of the drainage scheme, amounting to about 10% of the overall cost. However technically advanced they may have been, they were unspectacular structures which attracted little attention from the press. Although Monash had ideas for an opening celebration for the first bridge at St Kilda Street, involving the Premier, Sir Thomas Bent, who was also a Brighton councillor, no such event appears to have taken place. [10] Perhaps the opening of a small bridge was insignificant compared with the coming of the tramway and the other signs of progress in the district.

Three of Monash's Elwood bridges remain in use, although one is altered. Three bridges of similar design to the one at Brickwood Street - at Marine Parade, Cochrane Street and Asling Street, have been replaced, and the Gardenvale Bridge was lost when the Elster Creek was put into a tunnel under the Nepean Highway.

  1. 'The Elwood Story', Metropolis, Vol. 1 No.1 August 1955.
  2. Ibid.; Southern Cross, 6 June 1906.
  3. Ibid., 23 August 1906, Age, 23 November 1906
  4. Southern Cross, 5 May 1906; L. Marshall-Wood, The Brighton Electric Line, Traction Publications 1958.
  5. Southern Cross, 6 June 1906.
  6. 'The Elwood Story'.
  7. The Development of the Elster Canal Drainage System, MMBW 1979.
  8. Southern Cross, 27 July 1906.
  9. Company records, Box 44 File 437.
  10. Company records, Box 45 File 507.

Lesley Alves 1998.


Elwood: St Kilda Street Bridge.

Location:Elwood Canal, St Kilda Street, Elwood, Melway 67 D4.
Municipality:Bayside City Council. Built for the Public Works Department.
Description:Girder, 5 × 6.10 metre spans.
Dates:Commenced July 1905, tested 20 November 1905.
Status (1998):Still in use.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

Photo: Lesley Alves c1997

History.

In February 1905 Monash contacted Carlo Catani, Chief Engineer of the Public Works Department, submitting a design and quotation of £1500 for a bridge over the canal, referring to "work of a similar type carried out in this state" that he would be willing to show as an example. [1] Presumably Monash meant the Stawell Street bridge in Ballarat, a single span girder bridge Monash & Anderson had built in 1904, the only reinforced concrete girder bridge so far built by the partnership. Catani was obviously interested and discussed designs, making suggestions for amendments to the design and quality. When tenders were called in April for a bridge to the design of the Public Works Department, tenders for the design and supply of a Monier bridge were also invited, with a caution that it should be understood that a Monier bridge would be subject to a test with a 15 ton steam roller and that only half of the tender price would be paid before the bridge was satisfactorily tested. [2]

The Company was successful in gaining the contract. John Monash was chief design engineer and did most of the drawings himself, with J. S. Gregory assisting with some of the calculations. During the development of the design Monash was in close consultation with Baltzer of Gummow, Forrest & Co. in Sydney, who provided a critique of his plans and calculations, and gave instructions regarding the placement of the reinforcing steel. Baltzer and Gummow had been Monash & Anderson's mentors since they began building Monier structures and it was logical that Monash would confer with them at this important new stage in developing the technology. It is not known whether Gummow, Forrest & Co, actually designed and constructed any reinforced concrete girder bridges of their own in New South Wales during these early years. None have been identified by the researches of Colin O'Connor or Don Fraser. It is possible then that the St Kilda Street bridge is the earliest extant bridge of its kind in Australia, and only the second to be built.

Note from Alan Holgate, Jan 2009. The above was written in 1998. I discovered in 2005 that from February 1905, Gregory was employed by the PWD, reporting to Catani. At least one page of his calculations in the M&A file is clearly dated 10 March. Various explanations can be put forward, but in the absence of evidence there is little point in speculating.

Construction commenced early in July and was completed by the end of September. [3] The bridge was tested successfully in the presence of Catani, the St Kilda city surveyor and municipal representatives from Brighton and Caulfield. [4] The following week the bridge was opened for traffic, apparently without ceremony.

Load Test, 20 November 1905. University of Melbourne Archives,
Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co Collection, GPNB/1094.

  1. Letter 7 February 1905, Company records Box 45 File 507.
  2. 27 April 1905, Company records.
  3. Correspondence and Monash's notes, July 1905, Company records.
  4. Southern Cross, 30 December 1905.

There is another image of the load test at University of Melbourne Archives with Location Number GPNB/1097.

Significance.

The St Kilda Street Bridge is the earliest extant example of a reinforced concrete girder bridge in Victoria and possibly in Australia. It demonstrates the technical innovation achieved by John Monash and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. in the early years of the twentieth century and as such demonstrates the earliest stage in the development of reinforced concrete technology for bridge building. This innovation eventually led to the adoption of reinforced concrete as a standard bridge building material by road construction authorities in Victoria. The bridge is also historically significant for its association with the drainage works that led to the development of the suburb of Elwood.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

This bridge is set low over the canal. The three interior spans measure 20 feet (6.10 m) from centre to centre of the piers while the outer spans are approximately 20 feet from the centre of the pier to the face of the angled columns incorporated in the abutment. The bridge has a total width of 40 feet (12.2 m) and is on a 29 degree skew. The support of the wide footpath is treated as a separate issue from the support of the roadway. The roadway has seven lines of girders spaced 4 feet 8 inches (1.42 m) apart, with a line of columns (parallel to the centreline of the road) for each line of girders. To span between the lines of girders, the deck slab is 61/2 inches (165 mm) thick. The girder supporting the outer edge of the footpath is spaced 8 feet (2.44 m) from the nearest roadway girder, with its own line of columns and the footpath deck slab is only 31/2 inches (89 mm) thick. This bridge was built before the problem of shear strength of bridge girders became prominent and the middle 5 feet (1.5 m) of the span have no shear reinforcement. It is not known whether any extra reinforcing has been added later. The piers consist of a line of individual columns with individual spread footings in the form of a truncated pyramid. The column heads incorporate small corbels in the direction of the span. The abutments consist of a row of columns, each supporting the end of one girder, backed by precast Monier plates to retain the earth of the embankment. The original iron pipe handrailing remains on the downstream side.


Elwood: Brickwood Street Bridge.

Location:Elwood Canal, Brickwood Street, Elwood, Melway 67 F5.
Municipality:Bayside City Council. Built for the Public Works Department.
Description:Girder, 3 spans averaging 7.3 metres.
Dates:Drawings February 1906, tested September 1906.
Status (1998):Altered for use as a footbridge.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

Brickwood St Bridge reduced to a shade of its former self.
Photo: Lesley Alves, 1997.

History.

This bridge replaced a small bridge over the old Elster Creek drain a few metres along Brickwood Street to the south. [1] The contract price was £370 and the contract was signed with the Public Works Department on 20 July 1906. [2] As with the other Elwood bridges John Monash was chief design engineer, while S. J. Lindsay did the drawings and some calculations. The bridge was tested satisfactorily in September,[3] to be the second completed in the Elwood series.

The conversion to a footbridge is believed to have taken place around the time of the alterations to the drain in 1963, when the side girders were removed, presumably because they were considered unsafe. [4]

  1. MMBW Detail Plan No 1813, November 1905.
  2. PWD copy of plans held by Department of Infrastructure.
  3. Southern Cross, 22 September 1906.
  4. Oral information supplied by long term Elsternwick resident, Bill Lewis, 21 November 1996.

Significance.

Brickwood Street Bridge is one of the earliest extant examples of a reinforced concrete girder bridge in Victoria. It demonstrates the technical innovation achieved by John Monash and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. in the early years of the twentieth century. Although considerably altered, it shows a stage in the development of the technology, particularly in comparison with the two other bridges in the series at St Kilda Street and New Street. The bridge is historically associated with the drainage works that led to the development of the suburb of Elwood.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

This three span bridge is considerably higher than the bridges at St Kilda and New Streets. It has the longest girders in the series with the drawings showing them as typically just over 24 feet (7.3 m), and it is on a 33 degree skew. The layout is complex because the abutments converge very slightly in plan, so that the length of the girders varies by a few centimetres across the width of the bridge. The middle 13 feet (4 m) of each span has no shear reinforcement. Built as a road bridge, it was originally 17 feet (5.18 m) wide, with 4 girders, each supported by individual columns with stepped spread footings and shallow corbels. The footings were presumably covered by the concreting of the canal in 1963. The bridge has been reduced to a footbridge by the removal of the outer rows of piers and girders. The original iron handrail has been replaced by a cyclone wire fence.

Historic Images

There are three images held by the University of Melbourne Archives which may show Brickwood Street Bridge, though they are not labelled. GPNB/1118 and GPNB/1119 show a bridge under test that has all the characteristics of Brickwood St. GPNB/1091 shows an apparently indentical bridge with horse-drawn vehicles, though the landscape appears somewhat differnt. Enquiries to UMA regarding these images should include the Location Numbers quoted in this paragraph.


Elwood: New Street Bridge.

Location:Elwood Canal, New Street Elwood, Melway 67 E4.
Municipality:Bayside City Council. Built for the Public Works Department.
Description:Girder: 3 spans, 2 of 7.37 metres, 1 of 7.37 m reducing to 4.7 m across width.
Dates:First proposed 18 Oct 1906, opened June 1907.
Status (1998):Still in use.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

Photo: Lesley Alves, 1997.

University of Melbourne Archives has a historic image of New Street Bridge just after completion. Location Number: GPNB/1098.

History.

A 1905 MMBW map of the area shows a three span bridge across the old Elster Creek Drain at New Street. [1] The bridge, presumably built at the same time as the drain in 1872, had bluestone piers. The deck was probably wooden. The new reinforced concrete bridge in effect provided an extension for the old bridge when the drain was enlarged.

When Monash met Catani on another matter in October 1906, Catani told him he urgently needed a bridge 55 feet long over the Elwood Canal, and that his budget was £800. [2] Alternative tenders for timber and reinforced concrete were called on 6 December and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. secured the contract for £789. John Monash was chief design engineer, with W. W. Harvey doing the drawings. Work commenced in January, and the bridge was built as the excavation for the canal was made, so that one half was ready for crossing before the excavation of the canal proceeded upstream. The bridge was completed and opened for traffic on June 1907. [3]

When alterations to the canal in 1963 reduced the width of the waterway to 22 metres the old part of the bridge was removed, [4] leaving only the bluestone abutment as part of the reinforced concrete bridge.

  1. MMBW Detail Plan 1813, November 1905.
  2. Note 18 October 1906, Company records Box 54 File 613.
  3. Company records Box 54 File 613.
  4. The Development of the Elster Canal Drainage System, p.16.

Significance.

New Street Bridge is one of the earliest extant examples of a reinforced concrete girder bridge in Victoria and is one of a pair with the St Kilda Street Bridge. It demonstrates the technical innovation achieved by John Monash and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. in the early years of the twentieth century, which eventually led to the adoption of reinforced concrete as a standard bridge building material. The bridge is historically significant for its association with the drainage works that led to the development of the suburb of Elwood.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

This low bridge provided a longitudinal extension to an earlier bridge, since removed, so that what was an old bluestone pier now serves as the south abutment. The added reinforced concrete section has an internal span of 7.4m from centre to centre of the piers. The north span is 7.4m from centre of pier to face of abutment columns. The southern span varies from 7.4m on one side of the bridge to 4.7m on the other, measured from centre of pier to face of abutment. The bridge is on a heavy skew of 47 degrees with the 11 road girders parallel to the centreline of the road. There is no shear reinforcement in the middle 5 feet (1.5 m) of the spans. Like the St Kilda Street Bridge, each girder is supported by a pier column, with spread footings, however the columns lack the corbels. The bridge is 20 metres wide including a 3 metre footpath raised above the roadway, and the spacing of the girder for the footpath is wider. The north abutment consists basically of a thin in-situ reinforced concrete wall. Under the end of each row of girders is a column, nominally square, but incorporated into the wall in such a way that, because of the 47 degree skew, only two of its faces are revealed, forming an excrescence which is triangular in plan. The wing walls are simple rubble concrete retaining walls. The original pipe handrailing has been replaced by modern metal railing and fences.


Bendigo: Wattle Street Bridge.

Location:Bendigo Creek, Wattle Street Bendigo, VR Map 282 K15.
Municipality:City of Greater Bendigo, formerly Bendigo Borough Council.
Description:Girder, 3 spans nominally 7.4 metres.
Dates:Tender October 1914, tested June 1915.
Status (1998):Still in use.
Heritage Listing (1998):  Nil.

Photo c.1997.

History.

Discussions regarding a new bridge to replace the old timber bridge at Wattle Street began in April 1913 when Bendigo City Surveyor, S. Gordon Moore, asked the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. for an estimate. Because the Bendigo Creek was subject to frequent flooding, a large waterway was needed, and Moore proposed a single span of 64 feet, built square to the waterway. But 64 feet (19.5 m) was well in excess of the longest span attempted by the Company in a reinforced concrete girder bridge. Monash told Moore that it would be "a matter of some difficulty" and suggested three spans, with a 30 foot central span and two 17 foot spans, for just under £1000. [1] The matter was held in abeyance for almost eighteen months.

Obviously during this time there was a re-think of the design, because when tenders were eventually called on 1 October 1914, the Company submitted a design with three 24 foot spans for £643. After Moore expressed some doubts about the calculations for reinforcement, Monash's design engineer J.S. Laing offered to increase the amount of steel free of charge. This was accepted and work commenced in December with A. E. Lynch, as foreman. [2] In February 1915 a storm brought a rush of waters down the creek and some houses in Wattle Street were inundated. The new bridge, still under construction, was blamed. It should have been an arch, complained the critics, the piers were blocking the waterway. The firm's Works Manager, Alex Lynch countered that the inundation had nothing to do with the new bridge, but was due to the unrelated blocking of a culvert in Wattle Street which prevented it from emptying into the creek. The flood in the main channel washed away the props from the newly-concreted bridge, but the concrete had set sufficiently hard and there was no damage to the structure. [3] The bridge was completed early in March, but it was not tested until 11 June 1915. The final cost was £649. [4]

Load Test, 11 June 1915. University of Melbourne Archives
Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co Collection, NN/1059.

Over the years flooding has continued to be a problem in the Bendigo Creek, and the bridge has been found to aggravate the problem to some extent, [5] however it remains in use.

  1. Correspondence between Monash and Moore, April 1913, Company records, Box 96, File 993.
  2. Company records
  3. Bendigo Independent, 20 & 25 February 1915.
  4. Company records.
  5. Colosimo, A55.

There are more historic images of Wattle St Bridge at University of Melbourne Archives with Location Numbers NN/1056 and NN/1057 (under construction); NN/1058 to NN/1060 (load test); NN/1061 (close up of engine).

Significance.

Wattle Street Bridge is typical of the reinforced concrete bridges built by John Monash and the Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. immediately prior to World War 1 and is an intact example. It demonstrates a stage in the firm's achievement in the development of reinforced concrete technology and it contrasts with the Monier arch bridges built over the Bendigo Creek thirteen years earlier. It is associated with Bendigo's early twentieth century drainage system and forms part of an interesting linear landscape that includes the paved creek channel.

Lesley Alves 1998.

Description and Technical Analysis.

This town bridge has a total length of 72 feet (21.9 m). The centre span is 24 feet 4 inches (7.42m) from centre to centre of piers and the end spans are 23 feet 10 inches (7.26m) from centre of pier to face of abutment columns. It is built on a 30 degree skew. The five girders have shear reinforcing for the full length. The roadway is 24 feet (7.32m) wide. The piers consist of five columns seated on a strip footing and joined by a curtain wall. The columns are unusual in that they appear as a trapezoidal projection from one face of the wall. The abutments are of the column and wall type. The original wrought iron handrailing is supported by concrete standards anchored into the slab, in the manner adopted later by the Country Roads Board.