Brisbane's Most Famous Landmark Turns 80 – 96five Family Radio

Brisbane’s Most Famous Landmark Turns 80

Born out of the Great Depression, the Story Bridge was initially proposed in the 1920's, after the Victoria Bridge, Brisbane's only inner city bridge, was struggling to cope with the demands of a booming Brisbane.

By Justin RouillonMonday 6 Jul 2020

What was once conceived as a simple river crossing to service a growing city has become one of our cultural icons.

The Story Bridge turns 80 today, having been officially opened on July 6th, 1940.

Born out of the Great Depression, the Story Bridge was initially proposed in the 1920’s, after the Victoria Bridge, Brisbane’s only inner city bridge, was struggling to cope with the demands of a booming Brisbane.

In 1925 the Greater Brisbane Council commissioned a report to look into the feasibility of further river crossings in and around the Brisbane CBD.  With the William Jolly Bridge having been completed in 1932, funds were tight, and construction of the Story Bridge did not begin until 1934.

Hornibrook Constructions won the tender and the project was overseen by John Bradfield, the Queensland engineer who had been responsible for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Inspection of the bridge by the State Governor, Sir Leslie Orme Wilson (left) and Dr. John Bradfield (right), the designer and consulting engineer. Image: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

An Icon For The Ages

During construction the bridge was known as the Brisbane River Bridge, with plans to name it the Jubilee Bridge in honour of King George V.  But eventually it was named after John Douglas Story, who was an influential public servant of the day, and strong advocate for the river crossing.

At the height of construction the project employed 400 people, and was one of three major pieces of infrastructure in Queensland, with the other two being the Stanley River Dam (now known as the Somerset Dam) and the University of Queensland campus at St Lucia.

Riggers on the Story Bridge, circa 1939. Image: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland.

These days around 100,000 cars cross the longest cantilever bridge in Australia, but if you want a better view of the city, you can also climb the structure as part of an adventure climb.  The bridge features heavily  in Brisbane events such as Riverfire, has been featured in the ABC Kids show Bluey, and most nights of the week is lit up in different colours to commemorate a day in history, or to raise awareness for charities and cultural events.