The Sandridge Bridge which crosses the Yarra River, is a historic former railway bridge redeveloped in 2006 as a pedestrian and cycle path, public space featuring public art and connecting the new Queensbridge Square at Southbank to Flinders Walk on the north bank. It is the third bridge on the site and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
History of Sandridge Bridge
The first bridge on the site was built in 1853 for the original Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company line to Sandridge from Flinders Street Station to Port Melbourne, the first passenger railway line in Australia. In 1857 the St Kilda railway line had opened parallel to part of the line to Sandridge, and the original bridge was replaced in 1858 by a timber trestle bridge carrying two lines of rail traffic, with the tight curve of the original railway removed by rebuilding the bridge on a more oblique angle as seen today.
The bridge in 1928, with the Flinders Street Viaduct to the left hand side
The current bridge was designed by the Victorian Railways Department and built by David Munro & Co in 1886, the four track bridge opening for traffic in 1888. Constructed at a 33 degree angle to the river bank, it was one of the first railway structures in Melbourne to use steel girders rather than iron, and the workforce included a young engineering student, John Monash.
On either side of the river the steel girders were supported by bluestone and brick buttresses, and on the south side the structure continued as a brickwork viaduct. In the 1920 overhead electrical masts were added as part of the electrification of the line, and the original timber deck was replaced with rail and concrete slabs.
It was last used for freight in the 1950s, and passenger services closed in 1987, with the replacement by light rail lines of Melbourne tram route 96 to St Kilda, and Melbourne tram route 109 to Port Melbourne.
Train crossing Sandridge bridge in 1959
The "Red Rattler"
Redevelpment of Sandridge Bridge
In 2001 the State Government held an expressions of interest process seeking commercial ventures, but were unsuccessful and in 2003 Melbourne City Council and the Department of Sustainability and Environment took over. They committed $15.5 million to restore the bridge, create a plaza on the Southbank side and make connections to walkways on the Yarra north bank.
In 2005 artist Nadim Karam was commissioned to create ten abstract sculptures in a piece titled The Travellers, which represents the different types of immigrants who traditionally arrived by train over the bridge from Station Pier. Nine of the sculptures move across the bridge in a 15-minute sequence, moving on bogies running between the two bridge spans.
The bridge was unveiled three days before the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, at a final cost of $18.5 million and included a new pedestrian and cycle path and public space, connecting a new Queensbridge Square at Southbank to Flinders Walk on the north bank. However, only the eastern half of the bridge was reopened, the western half being stabilised and fenced off from public access.
Today's Quote: What need the bridge much broader than the flood? - William Shakespeare.
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