Destruction of the Indooroopilly Railway Bridge – 1893 Brisbane Flood

One of the causalities of the devastating Great Flood of 1893 was the Indooroopilly Railway Bridge (Albert Bridge) on February 5.

Old Albert Railway Bridge at Indooroopilly, Queensland, ca. 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30081-0001-0006

Railway Bridge at Indooroopilly, Queensland, ca. 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 30081-0001-0006

The Brisbane Courier newspaper provided a detailed account of the bridge’s demise during that day.

“[A]bout a quarter to six o’clock yesterday morning…there was a great crash and a roar like thunder, and one of the 80 ft. spans of the bridge canted over downstream, and then disappeared under the seething flood. The sound was heard distinctly nearly a mile from the site of the bridge, and very soon nearly all the residents of the locality were on the spot. The beautiful bridge was no more as a symmetrical whole. Not only was the 80 ft. gap noticeable, but it was seen that one of the piers 160 ft. from the Chelmer side of the river had gone.”

Indooroopilly Railway Bridge First destroyed by flood, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 187148

Indooroopilly Railway Bridge First destroyed by flood, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Neg 187148

Indooroopilly Railway Bridge damaged by flood waters in Brisbane, Queensland, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 7604-0001-0021

Indooroopilly Railway Bridge damaged by flood waters in Brisbane, Queensland, 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 7604-0001-0021

“The great span of 160 ft. with the arched back was out of line, forced downstream, and with the southern end left without the support of the pier there was an oscillation of fully 18 in. Up to 1 p.m. the remainder of the bridge stood, and there were hopes it would survive the flood. This hope, however, was not shared by the engineers. The spans which had been left were assailed by a mighty rush of water, far beyond anything anticipated when the structure was placed in position. Right up almost to the level of the floor the waters dashed, coming with a cross sweep from the south side. Occasionally downstream would come a large log, or a wrecked building, or other floating mass, and be hurled with a terrible force against the girders of the bridge.”

Indooroopilly Railway Bridge after being badly damaged by floodwaters 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 201198

Indooroopilly Railway Bridge after being badly damaged by floodwaters 1893. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 201198

Indooroopilly Bridge photographed from the river after the 1893 floods of the Brisbane River. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APE-067-0001-0002

Indooroopilly Bridge photographed from the river after the 1893 floods of the Brisbane River. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image APE-067-0001-0002

“From the columns of the piers the dirty yellow water recoiled and reared, roaring and showering its spray over the side rails of the doomed structures. The ends of the girders were caught by the flood and swept downwards, and at 1 p.m. the unsupported end of the 160 ft. span with its beautifully designed arch was seen to move gradually downstream. A few feet only and there was a mighty report. The span quivered for a moment in midstream, and then fell over and went down in that great surging mass of water…” (Brisbane Courier, February 6, 1893)

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

Queen Street in Brisbane during the 1893 flood, Queensland. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 7604-0001-0002

Queen Street in Brisbane during the 1893 flood, Queensland. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image 7604-0001-0002

Further reading:

Myles Sinnamon – Engagement Officer, State Library of Queensland