The Storied Past of the Story Bridge

Story Bridge construction in 1939 constructing one of the best places to visit in Brisbane

Have you ever wondered how the iconic Story Bridge of Brisbane came to life? Such a large piece of metal did not just happen overnight. But it did change the way that life in Brisbane and the surrounding areas was lived forevermore. We are here to tell the tale of the journey that brought this erected this bridge. It all starts way back in 1925.

Tell Me About It…

Brisbane’s historical landmark the Story Bridge is magically positioned above the Brisbane River and amongst the inner suburbs of Kangaroo Point and New Farm. Story Bridge Adventure Climb will take you to the summit more than 80 metres above the Brisbane River. With 360-degree views spanning Moreton Bay in the East, the Glasshouse Mountains to our North and hinterland views to the West, your vision and sights are endless.

There were many things that happened to make this bridge one of the best places to visit in Brisbane. First things first, in 1925 after the Brisbane City Council was established, a committee was set-up due to that fact that there were not enough bridges crossing the Brisbane river. Not being able to cross this giant river proved itself to create quite a debacle. Construction on the Story Bridge did not start for another 10 years, though, since the State Government refused to fund such an expensive bridge.

The Most Important Details…

  • The consulting engineer chosen for the project was Queenslander Dr. John Bradfield. Dr. Bradfield had been Chief Engineer on the Sydney Harbour Bridge which was completed in 1932.
  • The bridge commenced construction on 24 May, 1935.
  • Construction took five years, one year longer than planned due to a steel shortage.
  • During construction, the Bridge was referred to as the Central Bridge; the Brisbane River Bridge; the King George the Fifth Memorial Bridge; the Jubilee Bridge of Story Place; later, in 1937, the Government chose the Story Bridge, after JD Storey.
  • The Story Bridge opened for operation on 6 July, 1940.
  • At the time of opening in 1940, the Story Bridge was Australia’s second largest bridge (exceeded by the Sydney Harbour Bridge). It was the seventh largest bridge of it’s kind in the world.
  • The Story Bridge project cost £1,492,000 ($3,227,416) (under budget).
  • Seven years later, the State Government sold the Story Bridge to the Brisbane City Council for £750,000.
  • During construction, one hundred and ninety-eight (198) men were employed at the metal works, one hundred and seventy-six (176) at the construction site as well as sixty (60) designers, engineers, and surveyors.
  • Tragically, four men lost their lives during construction.

Tell Me about the Bridge Itself…

  • The Bridge is 1,072 metres long from the southern to northern anchor piers.
  • The river span is 282 metres long.
  • The Bridge’s summit is 74 metres to ground, similar in height to a 22-story building.
  • The width of the Bridge is 24 metres, including footpaths.
  • The river clearance at low tide is 35 metres, or 10-stories.
  • The four main steel bearings each weight 36 tonnes.

A Little Bit about Construction…

  • In 1935 a contract was signed for Evans Deakin-Hornibrook Constructions Pty Ltd for the construction of the Bridge.
  • The bridge was constructed in five stages.
  • 39,100 cubic metres were excavated for foundations (a hole as large as 23 Olympic swimming pools).
  • 41,250 cubic metres of concrete used (approximately 8,200 truck loads).
  • 12,000 tonnes of structural steel used.
  • 1,650 tonnes of reinforcing steel used.
  • 1,500,000 rivets were used to construct the bridge.
  • The Story Bridge is the largest steel bridge designed, fabricated and constructed in Australia by Australians.

Brisbane’s Story Bridge opened for operation on July 6, 1940. This day came five years after construction commenced and fourteen years after initial recommendations for a river crossing in the Kangaroo Point vicinity.

Essentially, the Story Bridge was one of the then governments’ three major public works projects, creating years of employment for many men during the Great Depression. Today, the Story Bridge lends itself to be one of the best places to visit in Brisbane.

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