Saturday, March 1, 2014

Inside the Walter Taylor Bridge

Years ago when I first moved to Brisbane as a teenager I'd drive under the Walter Taylor Bridge in Indooroopilly and see washing out on the balcony. I found it utterly fascinating that there were people actually LIVING in the bridge!

Over the years I would hear stories from the locals - that the original family who built the bridge lived there, that there was a hermit living there, that there was a BALLROOM in there. I never really knew what was true and what was urban myth but I would wonder every single time I would drive under.

Then a few years ago, a very heavy, 300kg resident had to be rescued out of the bridge using a crane after suffering an asthma attack. It was quite sensational at the time as the traffic in both directions had to be stopped during peak hour to allow the crane to get the man out. Fortunately he survived and it at least confirmed one rumour that yes, people lived there!

Then about six months ago the Council put out open calls on what should be done with the Walter Taylor Bridge - should it be turned into an art gallery, cafe, tours?  I didn't know if the moving of the obese man had anything to do with the sudden opening of the bridge, but I couldn't wait to see inside.

I'm not sure what they will do with the bridge long term, but for now they've opened it up for tours.

So the story goes that the bridge's namesake, Walter Taylor, designed and built the bridge as a toll bridge linking Indooroopilly to the Chelmer and the Western suburbs. It was originally called the Indooroopilly Toll Bridge and wasn't changed to the Walter Taylor Bridge until after his death, which I think is a little sad.

The original toll master also resided with his family (of 5 children!) in the living quarters and the deal was he and his family and their descendants could live in the bridge, rent free, for as long as they wanted. So bear in mind the bridge was built in the 1930s and the last resident, the obese man, didn't leave until 2009. He was the grandson of the original toll master. That's a lot of free rent!

The tour only takes you through the Northern Pylon as the Southern Pylon apparently is too dangerous with the weakened structure. The tour guide did confirm though that there was originally a ballroom there (!!) but it was turned into extra living quarters. There is some supercool artwork there done by students, I would LOVE to go in there!!

Anyhoo, the Northern Pylon has three levels, a small kitchen, two very large bedrooms (still...5 kids) and (thank goodness) a couple of bathrooms. It's very cosy, very art deco and very cool.

After so many years of fascination and wondering, I'm totally stoked I got to see inside the bridge. Now if only they would open the Southern pylon - this is what we'd be able to see...

Pic from The Courier Mail 
Pic from The Courier Mail. I wonder if this was the ballroom? There wasn't a space this big in the Northern Pylon.

Pic from The Courier Mail. So awesome....

Pic from The Courier Mail. Students methinks...

Pure awesomeness.