Today in Transportation History – 1896: One of the First Concrete Bridges in Australia

The Lamington Bridge was officially opened to traffic in the British crown colony (and present-day Australian state) of Queensland. The bridge, which is located in Queensland’s Fraser Coast Region, crosses the Mary River between Gympie Road in the town of Tinana and Ferry Street in the port city of Maryborough.

The Lamington Bridge was named after Lord Lamington (Charles Cochrane-Baillie), who had become governor of Queensland about just over six months before the bridge’s opening. The structure was one of the first concrete bridges built in Australia, and it replaced a high-set timber bridge that had been partially destroyed by floods in 1893.

The Lamington Bridge was designed by the British-born engineer and architect Alfred Barton Brady. He immigrated to Queensland’s capital of Brisbane in 1884 as a 28-year-old with considerable experience already when it came to engineering projects. Not long after arriving in Brisbane, Brady began a noteworthy career of 37 years with the Queensland Public Service. He became the colony’s engineer for bridges in 1889 and was appointed Queensland Colonial Architect three years later.

The Lamington Bridge has been widely considered to be Brady’s most innovative work, and he wrote a detailed account of this project for presentation before the Institute of Engineers in 1900. Brady noted in the paper that early on in the project he “was induced to recommend a concrete bridge, as it ensures a structure of very great strength, almost everlasting in character, and the annual expenditure in maintenance is consequently reduced to a minimum.” In addition, the Lamington Bridge was designed as a low-level structure. The reason for this was to help make the structure better suited for inundation and therefore less susceptible than the previous bridge at that location had been to damage by floating debris during floods.

A large crowd was on hand for the Lamington Bridge’s inaugural ceremony. Those attending included David Dalyrmple, Queensland’s public works secretary, and a number of other public officials. “Mr. Dalyrmple, in an appropriate speech, declared the bridge open,” reported the next day’s edition of the Brisbane-based Telegraph newspaper. “He then cut the cord, and the Ministers and general public walked across the bridge, which was soon thronged end to end.” The Telegraph also noted, “The visitors expressed great admiration at the elegant and substantial appearance of the structure.”

For more information on the Lamington Bridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamington_Bridge.

The Telegraph newspaper’s article about the opening of the Lamington Bridge is available at http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/rendition/nla.news-article172135349.3.pdf?followup=7330fe86f9ae87f5ec445f2986ea05b1.

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