My first encounter with this Bridge was in the Museum of Brisbane. This new Museum which opened on the 3rd floor of City Hall houses a great exhibition about the river. Half way along on the right hand side you come across a pair of headphones and when you put them on a little video starts up with its commentary about new Australians living in unusual places.In this case in one of the towers of this bridge. It is quaint and lovely and a must see and hear. This made me curious about the Bridge so I went on a walking tour of the Bridge organised by the Brisbane Greeters.
You have to book in advance and the meeting point is usually one of the stations closest to the bridge and consists of a walking tour and a visit to the bridge.
As you walk around the beautiful leafy suburbs you hear some of the interesting facts about Walter Taylor. He set up his own construction company and even in the 1930s he was busy making blocks of reinforced concrete which he used to build houses in the area. You come across them on the walk and perhaps the interesting question to ask is why he started this up given that Queensland was so rich in timber. I suppose that concrete was considered modern and durable and was very attractive on these facts alone.
He became a very wealthy man and built many houses in the area some more noteworthy than others. He was involved in a lot of building projects in Brisbane at the time and one of his proposals was to build a bridge to serve this part of the community as up till then they were relying on a vehicle ferry to take cars and passengers across the river.As the country was in a depression he had to raise the funds for it himself which he managed to do and started construction in 1930. When he started the excavating he found gold but kept quiet about it so as not to disrupt the progress of the bridge.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge had been built then and he took from its construction a number of cables which he used in the design of this suspension bridge. You can certainly feel the "suspension" as you walk across the footpath. The bridge, which at the time was known as the Indooroopilly Bridge was opened on the 14th of February 1936.
He decided to levy a toll on the bridge and built accommodation in these wonderful Art Deco towers for the toll master and his wife. The Green family lived there with six children. The living space was not big but it seemed good enough for this growing family and in fact this place was inhabited by descendants of the Green family as as recently as 2000.If you talk to locals they will tell you they still remember seeing the washing hanging out to dry from the towers. Tolls were dutifully collected until 1965 when the bridge was handed over the city. The Bridge was renamed the Walter Taylor Bridge after his death in his honour.
It is no longer inhabited, but houses a small exhibition of photos and records of the time. Being up there and listening and watching the cars cross the bridge is quite an experience. It's one that has something totally unique to offer in Australia, so don't miss it.
How funny! What a nice thing to be reminded of. A friend of mine from Uni lived in the Bridge in 2000/01 if I remember correctly, we went for a party a few times and the first time i was thinking, "he lives where??" It was a interesting place to hang out. :)