Summary

Black and white 5" x 4" negative showing the construction of the West Gate Bridge on 12 November 1969, as seen from Douglas Parade and Hyde Street, Spotswood and looking towards Port Melbourne. The main bridge span is being raised to be positioned between its two piers.

An adjoining span to the one pictured would collapse on 15th October, 1970, killing 35 men and injuring another 18. The disaster remains Australia's single worst workplace accident. A memorial park was opened in 2004 on the site depicted to commemorate the lives of those lost in the accident. In the foreground are two workmen discussing the operations.

This image is part of the Laurie Richards Collection at Museum Victoria comprising approximately 85,000 negatives taken by the Melbourne based Laurie Richards Studio between the 1950s -1970s. These negatives are all mostly large format [5"x 4"/ 12.5 x 10 cm], black and white images, though a significant number are in colour. The many photographic jobs that were undertaken in the course of thirty years are itemised in a set of log books, copies of which are also held by Museum Victoria.

Laurie Richards was a professional photographer who began his career as a photo-journalist, working for the Advertiser newspaper in Adelaide, and the Argus and the Herald newspapers in Melbourne. In 1953, he opened his own business and set up a photographic studio at his home at 4 Tower Avenue, Alphington, an inner suburb of Melbourne. At its peak, in the late 1960s, the Laurie Richards Studio was one of Melbourne's pre-eminent commercial photographic studios, employing twelve photographers. The Laurie Richards Studio worked mainly in advertising and public relations, and had a broad clientele which included commercial companies, government institutions and the entertainment industry.

Description of Content

Construction of the West Gate Bridge as seen from the top of the bridge piers and looking east towards Port Melbourne. The photograph is taken from the river embankment at the intersection of Douglas Parade and Hyde Street, Spotswood and shows the main bridge span being raised to be positioned between its two piers. An adjoining span to the one pictured would collapse on 15th October, 1970, killing 35 men and injuring another 18. The disaster remains Australia's single worst workplace accident. A memorial park was opened in 2004 on the site depicted to commemorate the lives of those lost in the accident. In the foreground are two workmen discussing the operations.

Physical Description

Black and white 5" x 4" cellulose acetate photographic negative

Significance

Because of the breadth of both the subject matter photographed and the diverse businesses which commissioned the work, and the excellent documentation that accompanies the collection, the Laurie Richards Collection at Museum Victoria is an invaluable record of Melbourne’s commercial and industrial past and as such gives an insight into the social history of that period.

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