The Story Bridge was officially opened some 81 years ago on 6 July 1940

Little is publicised about the Surveyor’s role in this historic bridge so we investigated through the assistance of historian and ex-surveyor Mr William (Bill) Kitson and the State Library, to find out some details on the Surveyors on this great Brisbane icon, and show you some great images of those times.

See Part 1 ‘The Story Bridge’ Story celebrates 81 years’ with some background details on the Bridge.

Upfront, we would like to thank Bill Kitson and Senior Curator at the Dept of Lands, Mapping and Surveying | Spatial Information, Kaye Nardella, for their research into this article.


On 15 December 1933 Engineer John Bradford was appointed as the consulting engineer to the Bureau of Industry who were in charge of the construction of the bridge.

In June 1934 Bradfield’s recommendation of a steel cantilever bridge was approved. The design for the bridge was based heavily on that of the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal which was completed in 1930.On 30 April 1935 a consortium of two Queensland companies, Evans Deakin and Hornibrook Constructions, won the tender with a bid of £1,150,000.

Surveyor’s during the design stage

Above is a photo from 1934 with surveyors Jenkins, Fison and Calder conducting a baseline survey along Bowen Terrace on the North side of the Brisbane River. The 2 men in front of the word ‘School’ are Chief Engineer Dr John Bradford (left) and his son K. Bradford (right).

Above is what this same photo looks today.

In 1934 and prior to construction commencing surveyors were busy conducting baseline surveyors and triangulation surveys to assist with the positioning of the new bridge – known as ‘Kangaroo Point Bridge’ during the entire design and construction stages.

An article about the concern of nearby householders as to where the bridge may be going. Will they be kicked out of their residency, etc.

What is a Triangulation Survey?

Triangulation surveying is the tracing and measurement of a series or network of triangles to determine distances and relative positions of points spread over an area, by measuring the length of one side of each triangle and deducing its angles and length of other two sides by observation from this baseline. Triangulation is preferred for hills and undulating areas, since it is easy to establish stations at reasonable distances apart, with intervisibility. 

Construction Gallery

Construction has commenced

On 24 May 1935 and at the height of the Great Depression, construction on the bridge finally began with the first sod being turned by the then Premier of QueenslandWilliam Forgan Smith.

Two of the many Qld Surveyors who worked on the Bridge in the Engineering section were Clifford Edwin Grigg and John Snowdon. Snowdon was the surveyor who later worked for Dr J. Bradfield on the Burdekin River scheme.

Students re-visit the Baseline Triangulation Survey – 1990

In 1990 students from QUT – M. Kleine and F.M. Bath conducted a Re-Survey of the baseline triangulation survey to look for the original survey marks. These 2 students traced the original baseline triangulation survey in an attempt to find the old and original survey marks, with just a little bit of success.

Below is a copy of the plan and a page out of the report stating and highlighted that Stations H and J were found. The rest missing.

Impressively the surveyed distance between the 2 stations, using 1935-40 technology v 1990 technology was just 7mm different over 160 metres which is very good for the technology of that period.

The Bridge today

Today the Bridge is an attractive historical structure that we should be proud of and the surveyors involved did a wonderful job.