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. State Library of Queensland, negative no. 6734  South Brisbane and Victoria Bridge, ca. 1892. [State Library of Queensland, neg no.146810]
Images of the Victoria Bridge before the flood.

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. State Library of Queensland, neg 67645  Large group of people gathered to watch the rising flood waters under the Victoria Bridge in 1893. Half of the bridge was swept away in the flood. Looking south towards South Brisbane. [State Library of Queensland, neg no. 19470]
Views from North Quay of the Victoria Bridge, Brisbane, during the 1893 flood, show the water almost over-running the bridge. An unidentified ship is moored at South Brisbane. A large crowd has gathered in the foreground. If you compare these photos with the one above you can see how high the Brisbane River had risen.

All that is left of the Victoria Bridge after floods washed a section away. State Library of Queensland, neg no. 3993  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. [State Library of Queensland, neg no.172633]
Sections of the bridge have now broken away, watched by a crowd of spectators at North Quay.

You can find further images detailing the destruction of the “Great Flood of 1893″ through our One Search catalogue or check our “1893 Flood” blog article published back in November.

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland