The first Dornoch Terrace bridge
Dornoch Terrace, a principal thoroughfare of Highgate Hill, follows the line of a ridge. This can be seen in the photo below from the early 1880’s showing Dornoch Terrace as a rough track.
When Boundary Street was extended past Dornoch Terrace to the river, the steepness of the ridge at that point caused difficulties. Representations were made to make this extension passable for foot and vehicular traffic from around 1886, such as the petition mentioned in this article.
It was decided to excavate a cutting to reduce the incline on Boundary Street and build a bridge on Dornoch Terrace to pass over the cutting. A tender for construction of the bridge was accepted in 1888. A slip road was built parallel to Dornoch Terrace allowing traffic from Boundary Street to access the higher level of the Terrace. This occasionally caused some problems as reported in the 1939 article below.
This is how a sedan car ended up, with the driver, John Robert Goforth, of Hoogley Street, West End, still at the wheel, after it had skidded on the top level of Dornoch Terrace, West End, and crashed backwards over a 12ft. embankment to the lower level of the terrace yesterday morning.
A new bridge for a new University
In 1926, the Senate of the University of Queensland decided to accept the offer of land at Saint Lucia for its new campus. It was decided to build a bridge facilitating access from the city to the new site crossing the river from Boundary Street. The idea for a bridge to St Lucia had been suggested before this.
During the 1880s land boom, one estate in Saint Lucia was named after a bridge it was imagined would be built in the near future.
This article from 1924 mentions the idea being pushed by local associations.
As described in an article entitled St Lucia: degrees of landscape, orientation of the main University buildings reflect this decision as they face towards the city and the proposed bridge, rather than towards the source of prevailing breezes to the north-east in the direction of Dutton Park.
Construction of University buildings at St Lucia didn’t begin until 1937. The first of these, the Forgan-Smith building, was completed in 1939. Soon after, preparatory work on the cross river bridge began.
Widening Boundary Street
In advance of construction of the cross river bridge, it was necessary to widen and reduce further the slope of Boundary Street which would lead to the bridge. The clearance under Dornoch Terrace also needed to be increased.
Work commenced on this undertaking in 1940. In the photograph below of the resulting construction work, the 1888 bridge can be seen in the background.
The work caused some inconvenience for pedestrians as reported in the Brisbane Telegraph, on the 27th. April 1940
Pedestrians using the footpath which links Dornoch Terrace to the upper end of Boundary Street West End, must “walk the plank” or, rather, planks, which now span that portion of the cliff which has been considerably damaged by recent blasting in this area. Boundary Street, which will form the main approach to the St. Lucia Bridge, is being lowered 60 feet.
Construction of the bridge across the river was scheduled to start in 1941 but the war intervened. After the war, a continuing shortage of labour and material, especially steel, led to the ongoing deferment of the project.
For example the Brisbane Telegraph of the 14th November 1950 reported :
Because of difficulties over supplies of structural steel it was not possible to say when the St. Lucia Bridge was likely to be finished, the Premier, (Mr Hanlon) said in Parliament today.
The Eleanor Schonell Bridge to the University was completed in 2006, from Dutton Park rather than from West End.
Ninety years after the idea was originally discussed, the 2017 University of Queensland Master Plan called for a bridge to West End to be constructed, this time to the vicinity of Orleigh Park. The original Boundary Street location was mentioned as option 2. There was some controversy regarding the proposal.
Early in 2019, incoming Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner announced plans for 5 new bridges across the Brisbane River. One of these is proposed to link Saint Lucia with West End and another Toowong and West End. These are the two routes mentioned in the UQ plan. Both are to be for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport.
The Dornoch Terrace bridge is heritage listed.
WOOLLOONGABBA DIVISIONAL BOARD. (1886, April 2). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 6. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4487296
South Brisbane Council. (1888, December 4). The Telegraph (Brisbane, Qld. : 1872 – 1947), p. 3. Retrieved April 17, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187792914
BRIDGE WANTED. (1924, May 7). Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), p. 4 (SECOND EDITION–3 p.m.). Retrieved April 22, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article198535798
St. Lucia Bridge plans (1950, November 14). Brisbane Telegraph (Qld. : 1948 – 1954), p. 2 (CITY FINAL). Retrieved April 19, 2017, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article217270029