Skip to main content
Brisbane's Story Bridge 1940 The 281 metre cantilever bridge was built between1935–1940, constructed by Evans Deakin - Hornibrook Pty. Ltd. The premises of Evans Anderson Phelan Pty. Ltd. Engineers at Kangaroo Point, are visible on the right. The New Farm cliffs can be seen in the background. The bridge connected Fortitude Valley and the southside suburbs. It is heritage listed and now carries 30 million cars per year. 16 bridges cross the river but the Story Bridge remains ‘the grandfather’ of them all.
  • Home
  • /

  • The Story Bridge

The Story Bridge

The Story Bridge, built between 1935 and 1940, is one of the most iconic structures in Brisbane. Today, The Story Bridge is known for its LED lighting displays that can be seen along the length of the Brisbane River, and as the home of the Brisbane bridge climb. To commemorate this important Queensland landmark, the State Library has collected a number of materials documenting the development of the Story Bridge. We invite you to explore these resources on the construction and history of the Story Bridge here. 

Building The Story Bridge

A decade of building major bridge infrastructure projects in Brisbane cemented Sir Manuel Richard Hornibrook (often known as ‘MR’) as a pioneering Queenslander into the history of the state. A self-starter who built the family business with his brothers, MR gained contracts all along the Brisbane River from wharves to terminals to wool stores and more. The company became known for bridge building and enterprise and gained the biggest contracts offered in the history of the state. 

The Grey St/William Jolly Bridge, the Hornibrook Highway and the Story Bridge were all opened between 1932 and 1940, opening up land, business, communication and connecting people back and forth across a rapidly growing city and across Moreton Bay to Redcliffe from Sandgate. Exactly when was the Story Bridge built? Its construction commenced in 1935, and concluded in 1940 when the bridge opened for the first time to a crowd of 37,000 people. 

Documenting Brisbane’s bridges

This project, through the Business Leaders Hall of Fame Fellowship, features an essay and blog on each of the three major Brisbane bridges of the 30s, with photos and anecdotes of life in Brisbane then and the role of MR in shaping a more modern view of Queensland. This edition highlights photos of the building of the Story Bridge, the workforce and the shape of Brisbane around the River in the 1930s. Other original photos are in the precious Story Bridge Albums being restored by the John Oxley Library and will become available in the near future.

Julie Hornibrook is the recipient of the 2015 Queensland Business Leaders Hall of Fame Fellowship.  As an accompaniment to this showcase of historic photos of The Story Bridge, Julie has written an in-depth essay about the history of the Story Bridge.

Read the Story Bridge essay >

Read more about the 2015 Fellowship >

See more Story Bridge images >

Story Bridge photos

Aerial photo of the Story Bridge site, Brisbane, 1931
Black and white image from 1938 of the Brisbane Story Bridge under construction
A large crowd watches the sod turning ceremony for the Story Bridge Brisbane 1935
Bradfield Highway seen from atop the Story Bridge during construction
Two men in suits with canes and top hats stand on a makeshift wooden platform spanning the Story Bridge while under construction in 1938
Story Bridge under construction, Brisbane, ca. 1936
Sepia toned photo taken from the steel support beams of the Storey Bridge, picturing riggers high above the Brisbane River
Lou the blacksmith on the Story Bridge construction team ca. 1939
Diver preparing to inspect the foundations of the Story Bridge during construction Brisbane 1936
Diver inspects the foundation at Pier 26E, Story Bridge, Brisbane, 1936.
 Superstructure of the Story Bridge, Brisbane, 1938
Construction yard of M. R. Hornibrook Pty. Ltd. in Brisbane
Story Bridge under construction in Brisbane, 1938
Construction of the Story Bridge, Brisbane, 1939
Construction crew on the Story Bridge during the last day of construction Brisbane 1939
A large crowd of people in 1940s clothing gathered for an opening ceremony for the Story Bridge
Toll-gate at the Kangaroo Point end of the Story Bridge, Brisbane, 1940-195019401950
Black and white photo from nineteen fourty showing a distant view of a newly completed Story Bridge. Clouds are in the sky and the sun is shining on the river.
Story Bridge 50th anniversary stamp

Further reading

Brisbane City Council, Reflections on the River, A Brisbane City Council Heritage Trail, 2011 Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Queensland, Assessing Cultural Heritage Significance, using the Cultural heritage criteria, 2013. Brochure  
Saunders, Kay. Between the covers: revealing the State Library of Queensland's collections. Woolloomooloo: Focus Publishing Pty. Ltd. 2006 Watson, A. Building a Masterpiece: The Sydney Opera House, Powerhouse Publishing, 2013