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Walter Taylor Bridge - Brissie Greeters Tour

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by Lou Bromley (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer in Brisbane who is passionate about the food and wine scene in the Granite Belt, Queensland. I am writing a book of the people and food of Stanthorpe and plan to launch the publication in 2014.
Published June 22nd 2014
Get a glimpse of life inside the Walter Taylor Bridge
The Walter Taylor Bridge played a significant part in Brisbane's suburban development from Chelmer to Oxley and was listed on the State Heritage Register as a structure of cultural significance in 1992.

Originally called the Indooroopilly Toll Bridge, the bridge was renamed in 1956 in honour of Walter Taylor, following his death in 1955.

What makes the Walter Taylor Bridge a wonderful landmark on the Brisbane landscape is that it is the only habitable bridge in the Southern Hemisphere, the longest spanning suspension bridge in Australia and the only remaining original Steinman-type bridge in the world.

About to enter the Indooroopilly Pylon to see what life was like inside the bridge

Construction took four years, with surplus cables from the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge were used to build the bridge, and was opened officially on February 14, 1936.

The last occupants vacated in 2009 for the Brisbane City Council to begin refurbishments to the interior.

In 2011, Brisbane City Council celebrated the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Walter Taylor Bridge opening with tours of the refurbished Indooroopilly (northern) pylon.

Brisbane Greeters and Bridge Tours:
We met Tina, our Brisbane Greeters guide, at Indooroopilly railway station for a tour of the Walter Taylor Bridge.

Tina was very knowledgeable about local history and shared great anecdotes from her previous tours of stories from former bridge residents.

Living in the Bridge:
The bridge has one flat in the Indooroopilly pylon, and two flats in the Chelmer pylon, the latter with a room under the road level dubbed 'the ballroom' and known for the parties held there in the past.

Styrofoam sculptures on the ceiling and graffiti featuring the Phantom decorate the walls created by previous tenants and will be kept until it is known how the space will be used.

Originally, the toll collector and bridge inspector lived in flats in the bridge with their families, which were later were rented out to uni students and others. The Green family continued to live in the bridge until refurbishment by the Council.

When the toll was ceased in 1965 and Council assumed the management of the bridge. The flats were known for having an extremely long wait list to be considered as a rental applicant.

Ever wondered what it would be like to live in a bridge?

The future of the Walter Taylor Bridge:
Only the Indooroopilly pylon is open to the public for free tours with the Chelmer pylon remaining closed and being used as a storage space by Council.

Councillor for the Walter Taylor Ward Julian Simmonds said he consulted with the community on the future of the pylons with the most requested suggestion being to convert the pylon into a community space for an art gallery and historic tours.

A spokesperson for the Office of the Lord Mayor said there are currently no plans for the Chelmer Pylon.

Councillor for the Tennyson Ward, Nicole Johnson, believes the Chelmer pylon should be considered for use as a community space.

"The popularity of public tours for the Walter Taylor Bridge northern pylon demonstrates the high level of community interest in our historic bridge.

"Council should be considering a similar investment or community proposals to revitalise the southern pylon," Councillor Johnson said.

Want to go on a tour?
Brisbane Greeters conducts free tours for groups up to six at a time through the bridge. To book a tour, go to their website to complete a booking form and Brisbane Greeters will be in contact: click here for the tour booking form

For images of the art murals and graffiti in the Chelmer pylon:
612ABC local radio had a tour with Cr Julian Simmonds in 2011 and feature photographs of the artwork in the Chelmer Pylon and current condition of the bridge interior: click here for the video

Life in the Bridge in 1954:
Tina showed us this film on the tour, but you can have a sneak peak online: the National Film and Sound Archive have uploaded footage of the toll keeper and his wife in 1954 living and working in the bridge: click here for the footage.

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Why? To see a truly unique part of Brisbane's history
When: At your choice
Where: Indooroopilly
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Would have been nice to see some pictures of the inside
by emmak7 (score: 0|4) 2438 days ago
Unfortunately inside was too dark for the camera I took for quality photos. Lesson learnt!
by Lou Bromley (score: 1|30) 2438 days ago
Everyone makes mistakes, right? After our tour of the Walter Taylor Bridge, I read 'The Remarkable Walter Taylor' by Noel Davis, Walter Taylor's grandson, as part of my research for my article. The article was edited and checked several times before publication.
I was alerted by a reader the bridge only has three flats, not four as I stated.
I re-read Noel's book, googled, oand googled some more, and then finally rang Noel to clarify if the Indooroopilly pylon was subdivided at one stage.
No! To his knowledge, only three flats. I've also heard rumours one of the Chelmer pylon flats was 'sublet' at times but haven't been able to confirm this. Drat! Darn! D'oh!
Let's split the difference and call it Pi: 3.14 flats, always approaching four but never getting there!
So this is a good time for a plug: meet Noel Davis in person at Corinda Library on Saturday 19 July for a presentation about his grandfather and the legacy of Walter Taylor. Well worth it and interesting.
by Lou Bromley (score: 1|30) 2434 days ago
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