Historic wrought iron Keilor Bridge
Historic Keilor Bridge handed back to council
Brimbank Council today officially took ownership of the wrought iron bridge from state roads authority VicRoads.
Council administrator Meredith Sussex said the bridge was of “great historical value for the Keilor district, being of state historical and engineering significance”.
“It is considered a rare and intact example of 19th century Victorian engineering, constructed as a direct response to the transport demands of the gold rushes,” Ms Sussex said.
“The wrought iron bridge was erected on bluestone abutments in 1868 to replace the original 1853 timber bridge, which had been washed away.
“The design was adventurous and experimental for its time and had no direct comparisons in Victoria.”
Keilor Historical Society president Susan Jennison said a lot of work had gone into protecting and preserving the heritage site.
“We are thrilled that it is going to council, as we would like to see a long term approach to its preservation.”
The ownership was transferred at no cost to the council.
VicRoads closed the bridge last year to undertake $228,000 in repairs, including to the timber boards.
It is expected there will be average annual bill of $8,500 for ongoing maintenance.
Today’s ceremony attendees were told how the original opening on Saturday November 21 1868 was in “an atmosphere of great festivity”.
The Chief Secretary of the Colony of Victoria opened the bridge.
The wrought iron was shipped from England and it cost 6000 pounds to build.
The Argus newspaper reported on November 23 1868:
“The bridge is a handsome and very substantial structure, and, viewed from the brow of the hill when approached from Melbourne, is exceedingly picturesque, serving greatly to relieve the extreme baldness and monotony of the surrounding scenery. The whole amount of the rates of the district for two years, together with a grant of 2000 pounds from Government, had been expended in the erection of the new bridge.”
The bridge is an important link between Keilor and Brimbank Park.
Western Metropolitan Region Liberal MP Andrew Elsbury said VicRoads worked closely with the Keilor Historical Society during the upgrade to ensure the works preserved the heritage of the site.
“Although ownership of the bridge has been transferred to the local council, VicRoads will continue to undertake ongoing inspections of the bridge as part of routine operations,” Mr Elsbury said.
“This project has been yet another example of the Victorian Coalition Government and VicRoads’ commitment to working with local communities to improve safety and connectivity for road users, cyclists and pedestrians.”
Mr Elsbury’s Liberal colleague and fellow western suburbs MP Bernie Finn also welcomed the benefits for cyclists and pedestrians.