Destruction of the Victoria Bridge : 1893 Brisbane Flood

Illustration of the first permanent Victoria Bridge looking towards the government offices and Queen Street, Brisbane, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 6734

Illustration of the first permanent Victoria Bridge looking towards the government offices and Queen Street, Brisbane, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 6734

South Brisbane and Victoria Bridge ca. 1892. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 146810

South Brisbane and Victoria Bridge ca. 1892. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 146810

 DESTRUCTION OF VICTORIA BRIDGE 

“…it is our painful duty to record the fact that the structure has been completely wrecked. The disaster took place about 4am yesterday [6 February], at which time there was a crowd gathered on the dry land at the bridge approaches. Gallantly as the structure had resisted the enormous weight of water rushing against it all day, when the first inroad was made it soon succumbed. The first portion to go was the second or third span, where the flood waters had probably been running the strongest. There was one loud crash, which shook the very earth, and made the surrounding buildings shake to their foundations; one convulsive heave, and the wrecked portion went down the river. Soon other pieces followed it, until before half an hour had elapsed fully one-half of the bridge had disappeared.”. (Brisbane Courier, 7 February 1893, p.2)

February 6 marks the anniversary of the destruction of Brisbane’s Victoria Bridge in the early days of the Great Flood of 1893. The bridge was a vital artery connecting North and South Brisbane. The previous day, February 5th, saw the destruction of the Indooroopilly Railway Bridge. The extensive and historic photograph collection of the State Library of Queensland contains a number of images documenting this shocking event.

A view from North Quay of the wooden Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, during the 1893 flood, with the water almost over-running the bridge. An unidentified ship is moored at South Brisbane. A crowd views the scene from the bank at North Quay in the foreground. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 67645

A view from North Quay of the wooden Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, during the 1893 flood, with the water almost over-running the bridge. An unidentified ship is moored at South Brisbane. A crowd views the scene from the bank at North Quay in the foreground. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 67645

Large group of people gathered to watch the rising flood waters under the Victoria Bridge in 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 19470

Large group of people gathered to watch the rising flood waters under the Victoria Bridge in 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 19470

All that is left of the Victoria Bridge after floods washed a section away, Brisbane, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 3993

All that is left of the Victoria Bridge after floods washed a section away, Brisbane, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 3993

Remains of the Victoria Bridge during the 1893 flood. A number of buildings along the river are almost completely submerged under the floodwaters. Buildings to the left of the bridge include the People's Cash Store and Hunter's Boot Palace, on Stanley Street. To the right of the bridge are the Victoria Buildings on Melbourne Street, which included such businesses as Thomas Davis's fancy repository, Mrs. M. Sepich's refreshment rooms and Alfred E. Appleton's ladies' outfitter. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 91660

Remains of the Victoria Bridge during the 1893 flood. A number of buildings along the river are almost completely submerged under the floodwaters. Buildings to the left of the bridge include the People’s Cash Store and Hunter’s Boot Palace, on Stanley Street. To the right of the bridge are the Victoria Buildings on Melbourne Street, which included such businesses as Thomas Davis’s fancy repository, Mrs. M. Sepich’s refreshment rooms and Alfred E. Appleton’s ladies’ outfitter. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 91660

A view over the Brisbane River to South Brisbane and of the Victoria Bridge after the 1893 flood. Shipping wharves and commerical premises are visible with some flood debris on the river bank. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 172633

A view over the Brisbane River to South Brisbane and of the Victoria Bridge after the 1893 flood. Shipping wharves and commerical premises are visible with some flood debris on the river bank. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 172633

Victoria Bridge damaged during floods in Brisbane, Queensland, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 28130-0001-0003

Victoria Bridge damaged during floods in Brisbane, Queensland, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 28130-0001-0003

Looking down the river towards what is left of the Victoria Bridge after the flood, Brisbane, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg APA-020-01-0006

Looking down the river towards what is left of the Victoria Bridge after the flood, Brisbane, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg APA-020-01-0006

The State Library of Queensland holds an extensive collection of photographs covering the 1893 flood which can be viewed through our One Search catalogue.

Further reading:

Myles Sinnamon – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland