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MoB Sunday Stories: The Walter Taylor Bridge

A bridge, suspended by history and paved in urban legends, The Walter Taylor bridge has been a source of curiosity since its construction commenced in 1930. With one pylon clutching the southern bank of Chelmer and the other connecting the gap to Indooroopilly, the bridge was designed by Graceville resident Walter Taylor to replace the barge that had previously ferried resident’s cars between the two suburbs.

Walter Taylor Bridge Under Construction. 1930's. Courtesy Brisbane City Council

The Indooroopilly Toll Bridge, as it was known then, was a spectacular feat of design. The cables that help form the iconic shape of the bridge were surplus support cables used to brace the incomplete halves of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during its construction. A hulking suspension bridge that spanned almost 300 metres from end to end, it took 6 years to complete and cost £85,000.

Walter Taylor Bridge construction 2. Indooroopilly. 1930. Courtesy Brisbane City Council

The bridge was opened on Valentine’s Day 1936 by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Leslie Wilson and also welcomed the first of its paying customers. With the toll fixed at the very reasonable price of 1 penny per crossing, the Indooroopilly Toll Bridge Limited made a profit of £2581 in its very first year. To help facilitate the collection of this nominal fee, two residences had been purpose built into the bridge to lodge the families of the Toll Master, Mort Green and his second-in-command.

The unusual homes provided surprisingly spacious accommodation for Mr Green and his family, with luxurious 10 metre ceilings, double high windows and even a balcony where fresh laundry could hang dry above the moving cars below. This bizarre living arrangement suited the Green’s so well that three generations of the family occupied the Indooroopilly Pylon for 75 years, until 2009 when the Toll Master’s grandsons finally gave up the apartment for good.

Walter Taylor Bridge.1970. Courtesy of Queensland-State Archive

A far cry from the domestic bliss of its northern counterpart, the Chelmer pylon — which boasted its very own ballroom — passed from family to family before becoming home to a rotating crowd of rowdy university students and party goers, ultimately resulting in its dilapidated and unliveable condition.

While the bridge may no longer be a place to call home, the nostalgia and mystery of its past will continue to ignite mid-commute conversations for generations to come.

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