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Restoration of 135-year-old Princes Bridge under way

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Sean Car

The City of Melbourne has begun restoration works at Princes Bridge as part of a major facelift that the council says will enhance its “distinctive historic features”.    

The bridge is one of the city’s busiest and most prominent gateways, linking Southbank to the CBD with a range of popular cultural, historic, sporting and entertainment attractions. 

Restoration works are being carried out in sections, including cleaning, repairing, and replacing bluestone blocks and restoring heritage features.  

Princes Bridge was built in 1888 to accommodate Melbourne’s booming population following the gold rush period. It replaced a single-span bluestone and granite arch bridge (1850 to 1884) and the wooden trestle bridge (1844 to 1852) that came before it.   

Over the years, the bridge has evolved with the city to accommodate electric trams after being reinforced in 1924, removing lead-based paint from the ironwork in 2006 and becoming more pedestrian-friendly with the introduction of single lanes in each direction in 2013.   

It is one of the oldest river crossings in the CBD and has undergone minimal repairs in its 135-year lifetime, until now.  

Detailed restoration work has begun on site and will be completed in stages over the next three years. 

In announcing the works in February, Acting Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said the council was doing everything possible to minimise disruption to the community during the project.

“We’re restoring this 135-year-old landmark to its full glory – bringing its heritage features back to life and ensuring it can continue to connect residents, workers and visitors for years to come,” Cr Reece said.

“We’re doing everything we can minimise disruption to our community while we undertake these important works and thank everyone for their patience.” 

The restoration project is also one of the first to display artwork around the site as part of the council’s Creative Hoardings project – with a thought-provoking work to be installed, titled Remembering by Yorta Yorta man, historian, cultural educator, and artist John Patten.  

 

 

The council’s Creative Melbourne portfolio lead Cr Jamal Hakim hoped the new artwork would “start conversations and add more colour and creativity to our great city”.

“As a long-term project and one of the first to display our Creative Hoardings artwork, it will be a prime example of how we’re transforming construction sites into vibrant and appealing spaces,” Cr Hakim said.

Access under and along the bridge will be maintained throughout most of the works. Melburnians and visitors will be notified of any short-term closures and diversions. •

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