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state library of queensland
John Oxley Library

Queensland Railway Bridge Photographs

By R. Hillier - Librarian, State Library of Queensland | 8 July 2016

State Library of Queensland holds a massive amount of photographic material and although the large majority of it is catalogued these collections still hold many treasures yet to be unearthed and distributed more widely. In addition to managing new acquisitions, the process of identifying, digitising and highlighting significant finds among the existing collections is a constant. Recently, eight rail related photographs came to light, and although a couple had been previously available online in low quality scans, it was decided all eight warranted digitisation and improved access.
Seven of the eight images are impressive views taking in significant rail bridges in South East Queensland and their surrounds. These include the rail bridge over the Isis River near Bundaberg; the (2nd) Antigua Bridge over the Mary River; the Quart Pot Creek Rail Bridge and the Spring Creek Bridge near Stanthorpe; Elliot River Bridge; Dickabran Bridge near Kilkivan and the old Albert Bridge at Indooroopilly.

Old Albert Bridge, Indooroopilly, Brisbane, ca. 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 30081-0001-0006

The eighth photograph is assumed to be of Graceville Station in Brisbane. Although difficult to verify, a number of clues lend to this conclusion. The wrought iron pedestrian bridge connecting the platforms is quite commanding. Early photographs show an almost identical foot bridge existed at Toowong Station in the late 1800s, yet this image doesn’t marry up with the Toowong pictures. Additionally, in very top left of this photograph what appears to be the edge of a station sign is visible, ending in the letters ‘LE’ – definitely not Toowong. One could assume that these footbridges, although grand, may have been standard issue for a number of city stations along the Ipswich line, one of which is nearby Graceville. Unfortunately there seems to be very little early photographic documentation of Graceville Station to support this.

Graceville Railway Station, Brisbane, ca. 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 30081-0001-0008

Evidence also suggests that at least two of the photographs, and quite likely all eight of them, were taken by Melbourne photographer Charles Rudd. The eight photographs have nothing to identify a photographer, however SLQ also holds two smaller separate versions of two of these photographs – ‘Bridge over Isis River’ and ‘Bridge over Mary River’. Both are on a backing mat that indicates the photographer C. Rudd and his studio at 162 Bourke St East (Melbourne). The mats also indicate that the images were “photographed on Baker’s “Austral” plates” and both have a hand written caption identifying the bridge and its general location. These two smaller prints are also numbered – ‘434’ and ‘436’ indicating that they were a part of a much larger series.

Isis River Rail Bridge on the North Coast Railway Line, Queensland, ca. 1890. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 30081-0001-0001

Mr Rudd operated from a number of photographic studios in Melbourne in the late 1800s up until his death in 1901. He worked extensively both in Melbourne and around Victoria photographing scenic views, important buildings, significant events and portraits, however there seems to be little information about him travelling as far as Queensland. Hopefully documentation of this trip north will eventually come to light.

You can view this collection of image via our One Search catalogue.

R. Hillier - Librarian, State Library of Queensland


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