Sandridge BridgeSandridge Bridge, which crosses the Yarra River between the city centre and Southbank, today provides pedestrian access between Flinders Street Station and Southbank. The former railway bridge provides a unique link with Melbourne's past and present. The third bridge on the site, this 78.4 metres long bridge steel structure runs diagonally to the river's banks and was redeveloped in 2006 as a pedestrian and cycle path featuring public art relating to the diverse cultures of Melbourne. Ten abstract sculptures in a piece titled The Travellers represent the different types of immigrants who traditionally arrived by train over the bridge from Station Pier. Nine of the sculptures move across the bridge in a 15-minute sequence, moving on bogies running between the two bridge spans.
The Sandridge Railway Bridge, which crosses the Yarra River from the city to Southbank Promenade between Queens Bridge and Princes Bridge, was part of the Port Melbourne (Sandhurst) and St Kilda railway lines. These were the first steam-powered commercial railway services in Australia and played a vital role in the development of Melbourne as a great commercial city of the 19th century. Constructed in 1888 during the transition from iron to steel, the Sandridge Rail Bridge is possibly the earliest example of the use of steel bridge girders on the Victorian rail system. The bridge replaced two earlier railway bridges, erected in 1853 and 1859 on what was the first railway line in Victoria. The line passed from Flinders Street station across the Sandridge Railway Bridge, and then followed Whiteman Street before turning south and following the path now taken by the tram to Port Adelaide, which in fact uses track laid originally for the Sandridge railway trains.
The current entry to the walkway across the bridge.
Sandridge Rail Bridge was built by David Munro, a well known and important colonial builder who also constructed the Princes Bridge (1888) and Queens Bridge (1890). It is 178.4 metres long and is comprised of five spans, measuring in length from the south bank to the north bank: 36.9 m, 36.6 m, 36.3 m, 36.9 m and 31.7 m. The bridge is 17m wide and the girders are 2.74 m high from the top to the bottom of the flange. The bridge was constructed at a 33 degree angle to the river bank, reflecting the Sandridge line's direct route from Flinders Street to the port.
Opened to rail traffic in 1888, the bridge carried railway lines from Flinders Street Station to Port Melbourne, and was used to bring freight and passengers to and from ships as they came and went from Port Melbourne. The line began at Flinders Street Station and ended at Station Pier, Port Melbourne. The decorative ornamentation of the bridge made it a key feature of early Melbournians architecture. The significance of the Sandridge port and its rail link into Melbourne lasted well into the twentieth century. Freight handling on the line ceased in the 1950's and passenger services were closed in 1987 when the line was replaced with a light rail service to Port Melbourne, at which time the bridge ceased to be used. The light rail uses the greater part of the Sandridge Railway alignment. In 2004 the State Government began developing the cycle and pedestrian link and public performance space for which the bridge is now known.
Melbourne's bridges, 1928
The bridge's deck before restoration