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Fyansford Monier Arch Bridge

Contract acquisition; planning; design; construction; dispute over payment.

The bridge in 1910.  Image courtesy of Tom Roberts AM.

Coordinates: -38.142, 144.3087.

For more historic images see University of Melbourne Archives Image Collection or Picture Australia. Within UMAIC search under Record ID for: UMA/I/6261, 6263, 6264, 6498, 6499. Any enquiries to UMA concerning these images should refer to their Location Numbers, respectively BWP/23832, BWP/23834, BWP/23835, BWP/24345, BWP/24346. In Picture Australia, key words Fyansford and Bridge display additional images from State Library of Victoria, Museum Victoria, and Monash University Archives. Some include the Fyansford Cement Works.


This project was initiated largely by J.T.N. Anderson while Monash was preoccupied with legal cases. After his return from Perth in July 1899, Monash joined in the supervision of construction, and in liaison with the client Shires and their Engineer. The refusal of the Shires to pay Monash & Anderson for a large amount of extra work completed at Fyansford seriously hampered the firm's development over the next five years or so.

The Monier system of construction was patented in 1867 by Joseph Monier, a French manufacturer of garden ware. He manufactured planter pots made of coarse mortar reinforced with a grid of small-diameter iron bars. The technique and patents were gradually extended to cover, amongst other things, arch bridges. The technique was forcefully developed and promoted in the German-speaking world by a number of licensees, amongst whom G. A. Wayss became dominant. It was formally introduced to Australia in the early 1890s by W. J. Baltzer, a German immigrant working for the NSW Public Works Department, who joined several businessmen to obtain licences through Wayss to cover the Australian Colonies. The firm of Carter Gummow & Co was formed and built two important arched sewage aqueducts in Sydney and a number of smaller structures. Baltzer moved across to become effectively its Chief Design Engineer.

Strong claims are made for both Anderson and Monash as 'designer' of the first Monier arch bridge built in Victoria: the Anderson Street (later Morell) Bridge over the River Yarra in Melbourne. I am convinced by circumstantial evidence in the archives that the ASB was largely the work of Carter Gummow & Co. Arguments supporting this view can be found in the relevant Dossier, and are summarised in the companion web page on the ASB. If they are correct, the Fyansford bridge becomes the first of its type largely designed and built by Victorians. For this reason, some of the events leading up to the introduction of the Monier system to Victoria are included in the Timeline for Fyansford [see actual Dossier].

Preliminary moves.

Baltzer's return visit to Germany to research the technique took place in 1890. [Fraser (1985)] By 1897 papers had been delivered to learned societies and important structures built in Sydney. In that year Baltzer described the system to the Engineering Association of NSW and the "Building Mining and Engineering Journal" gave extensive coverage to Carter Gummow's stand at the Engineering and Electrical Exhibition in Sydney. In September 1897, W. C. Kernot, Professor of Engineering at the University of Melbourne, mounted an exhibition on the subject aided by his counterpart from Sydney. Gummow let it be known he was in Melbourne and available for interview. By the end of the month, Anderson had seen the opportunity to use the system at Fyansford, met Gummow, established contacts in Geelong and lobbied the chief engineer of the PWD, Carlo Catani.

There is some doubt about the identity of JTNA's initial contact in Geelong. M&A's first letter, and a few later ones, are addressed to "Mr J Taylor" who was possibly John Taylor, principal of one of Victoria's largest contracting firms, based in Geelong. However, the index of M&A's letterbook ascribes all "Taylor" letters except the first to Richard Taylor, manager of the Cement Works at Fyansford.

The proposed bridge was to replace a badly deteriorated timber structure carrying the road from Geelong to Hamilton over the Moorabool River just outside the town of Geelong. Officially, this crossing was the joint responsibility of the Shires of Bannockburn and Corio, whose common border was formed by the river. However the citizens of the far-flung shires felt most of the benefit would go to the Town and sought the cheapest possible way of fulfilling their obligation. Anderson's job was therefore to convince them that a concrete bridge would be a better long-term investment than a new timber bridge, while being cheaper than the alternative metal girders on stone supports. The two Shire Engineers seem to have been ready to accept the new technology, with Campbell of Corio perhaps more keen than Morris of Bannockburn. The local cement company, whose factory was practically next door to the bridge, was keen to support the project and offered cut rates on cement and a commission to Monash & Anderson.

By 5 October 1897 Anderson had investigated site conditions at Fyansford and sent Gummow a preliminary sketch. (At this time Monash was interstate on other business.) Carter Gummow responded with a drawing showing three arches, each with a 90-foot (27.4m) clear span:

Carter Gummow & Co, drawing for "Monier Bridge. Moorabool River at Fyan Ford, Victoria." Late October 1897. Half elevation, half longitudinal section.
[Larger image.]

Early in November, Anderson told Taylor he could build a Monier bridge for "about £3850" plus an allowance for contingencies. He argued that it would last indefinitely and in the long run be more economic than an initially cheaper timber bridge. In December, Campbell showed the Corio councillors his plans for a metal girder bridge, estimated to cost £5000. The councillors made it clear the crossing was of little interest to them. Some days later the Bannockburn Council went into committee to hear Councillor Stewart, possibly on behalf of John Taylor, present M&A's proposal.

Winning the Contract.

A joint committee of councillors assembled to oversee the awarding of the contract and it became clear that support for the Monier alternative lay mainly amongst the Bannockburn group. Cr Sutherland of Corio was a strong supporter, but most of his fellows were in favour of timber. Further consultation between Anderson and Carter Gummow had resulted in a scheme in which the appearance of the spandrels was lightened by recessed panels (probably prepared by Anderson). This had a river span of 90 feet and five side spans of 32 feet (9.8m), three on one bank and two on the other.

Drawing showing scheme with recessed panels in spandrels. Undated, unsigned. Half elevation, half longitudinal section.
[Larger image.]

Campbell had conducted a site investigation, prepared a profile of the river bed [Dossier, p.122], and proposed that the bridge have three spans of 60 feet, 100 feet, and 60 feet. After yet more deliberations, which included the Shire Engineers and Catani at the PWD, the councils asked M&A to submit a detailed specification and bulk-sum quotation. If these were satisfactory, tenders need not be called. Anderson was reluctant to be rushed, but prepared a drawing showing an architecturally austere bridge to Campbell's dimensions [Drawing.] and at the end of March 1898 quoted a figure of £4700.

Anderson's third scheme.

The increase in cost was justified by the piling now thought necessary for poor foundation conditions, the replacement of railings with solid parapets, a slight increase in road width, and a rise in the price of cement. The next day Anderson attended a meeting of the joint committee at which he offered to reduce the price to £4200 by a number of measures. However, he made it clear, at least to Taylor, that he wanted a schedule of rates contract which would allow for variations and extras. The ensuing vote went in favour of Monier, though most of the support came from Bannockburn. A few days later the full Corio Council agreed to go as far as calling alternative tenders for the Monier and steel girder options.

Councillors were disappointed when a deputation seeking greater support from the Ministry of Public Works obtained a promise of only £1500. Early in July 1898, Monash left for Perth to assist a large contracting firm in what turned out to be a year-long court case. After more animated debate amongst the councillors, tenders were called in November, with the Monier alternative represented by a drawing over Campbell's signature. M&A were obliged by CG&Co to give quotations for the Monier arches to any general contractor who wished to bid for the entire project. Anderson seriously considered building the Monier arches as a sub-contractor to one of these, but added a healthy margin to his quotation and decided also to submit a tender in M&A's own name for the entire project. At this time Gummow had reasons for not involving his own firm.

In December, M&A offered to build the bridge as originally designed for £4530. Campbell's version, with larger, wider approaches and larger foundations would cost £5089 without a temporary bridge, or £5309 with one. Anderson addressed the councils' desire for a fixed bulk sum contract with the following clause: "… while we agree to carry out such works as we may consider necessary to the credit and repute of our Monier patent and to make a neat and trafficable bridge in accordance with the general meaning of the specification … at the same time we will require to be paid as per schedule herewith for such additions as may be directed by the engineers in charge." Having been told by Campbell that £4500 was the absolute limit the councils were prepared to pay, he looked at ways to again reduce his price.

When tenders were opened, the lowest price for a steel girder bridge was found to be £8190, basically ruling out this alternative. Anderson offered to bring his price down by omitting sheet piling beneath the piers, supporting the temporary bridge on pontoons rather than driven piles, and having the Shire Engineers supervise construction. Allowing for some strengthening of one of the foundations, this gave a new total of £4959. However, resistance remained strong and one Corio councillor even suggested the crossing be allowed to revert to a ford. It was finally decided to send a deputation to the Minister with the lowest tenders for the steel and Monier alternatives. In the meantime, Anderson, the Shire Engineers, and Catani continued to discuss technical and contractual issues. With the councillors still hesitating, Anderson announced that after 26th January 1899 he would have to increase his price to allow for work in winter conditions. The PWD pressed for savings through further modifications and on 29th December 1898 he submitted yet another revised tender for £4347 including a temporary bridge, or £4312 without one.

In the New Year of 1899 debate amongst the councillors continued vigorously. Strong support for the Monier option on pragmatic grounds came from Crs Jones and Stewart of Bannockburn and Sutherland of Corio, aided by Morris and Campbell. The 14th January saw a fiery meeting which almost ruptured relations between the two councils and ended with a forlorn decision to deputationise the Town Council. Anderson saw the project as indefinitely delayed and told Monash he hoped the "stupidity and inertia which is now so unfavourable to our interests" could later "be made to repay us for the present inconvenience". Perhaps in desperation, he prepared a cut-price scheme in which bare Monier arches would support a steel superstructure and timber deck [drawing] which could be replaced at a later date with conventional spandrel walls and earth filling. Its appearance left much to be desired and it reduced the price only to £3656. On 24th January, Corio decided that, as the appeal to the Town had been fruitless, it would definitely adopt a timber bridge. However, M&A were now receiving positive signals from the Shire Engineers and Catani. On 31st the councils held a full joint meeting at the Corio Town Hall at Lara. Anderson attended and was asked for his opinion on the proposed omission of piling which was now primarily Campbell's responsibility. He refused to be drawn. Asked whether the final price would really be £4500, he assured the councillors it would be very close - perhaps even £100 less. Whether Anderson qualified this statement in any way was later a matter for dispute in court. What is sure is that some of the councillors left the meeting convinced he had given them a cast-iron guarantee to build the bridge for a fixed bulk sum, while he left convinced they had accepted that the work be done to a schedule of rates, allowing for variations and extras due to unforeseen conditions.

Work commences and a contract is signed.

Anderson was keen to start work while the river was low and the sites for the piers still dry. On 4 February 1899 he met Campbell briefly to agree details of the contract conditions. A week later the Joint Committee formally appointed Campbell Superintending Engineer and Morris as their Secretary. The width between kerbs of the bridge was increased 20 feet and Anderson then fixed the price at £4506. After further exploratory bores, excavations commenced on 23rd. It appears that Anderson was now re-designing the foundations to allow for the omission of piling and modifying the shafts of the piers to improve stability, given that firm clay was deeper than had been shown in earlier investigations. He decided to dig the foundation holes without timber sheathing so that when the concrete was cast it would entirely fill the hole and resistance from the sides of the excavation would enhance stability. This redesign was done in consultation with Baltzer and Gummow, but it seems that Anderson and Baltzer were often working at cross-purposes. About 20th March, Monash arrived in Melbourne for a visit of some weeks. The next day concreting commenced in the pier foundation, the men working round the clock to bring it up to ground level. Early in April Campbell supplied a drawing of the piers and their foundations showing considerably more volume than had been shown on the contract drawing.

On the 29 March Anderson, Monash, Campbell and Morris met in the salon of Connelly's Hotel to negotiate the detailed terms of the contract and sign the documents. The contract was to be made between M&A and the Shire of Bannockburn, which would send Corio invoices for half the costs as progress payments were made. The party sat round a table with multiple copies of the Specifications, Conditions, Schedule of Rates, and Contract. Some alterations had already been made to the first two documents at an earlier meeting between Anderson and Campbell. A long session of bargaining ensued, with alterations being recorded in an uncoordinated manner - some entered in one copy of a document and some in another. The meeting broke up in haste. Monash gave Anderson the "honour" of signing what was believed to be a definitive set of documents on behalf of M&A and initialling its alterations. Morris took this away to be signed and sealed in due course by the President of Bannockburn. Anderson and Monash took away what they believed were accurate, if informal, copies of the Specifications and Conditions. Amongst the differences in the documents was one which was to prove fatal to their partnership. It had been agreed to base the Conditions on the printed proforma issued by the Shire of Corio, which stipulated that any extras must be authorised in writing by the "President of the Council". In their earlier negotiations Anderson had persuaded Campbell to change this designation to "Superintending Engineer". He was confident the change had been made to all copies, but it did not exist in the copy retained and executed by the President with the seal of Bannockburn.

Construction of the substructure.

Early in April, a Clerk of Works was appointed to the project. Caleb Martin soon showed his diligence by objecting that M&A were inserting too great a volume of spalls (lumps of rock) in the mass concrete, exceeding the permissible figure of 30 per cent. M&A arranged a simple experiment which suggested this was impossible, but the spall question remained a bone of contention throughout the project. The state of M&A's finances at this time can be judged from the fact that when Anderson sent Morris the contractor's deposit, he asked him not to cash the cheque until M&A had received the first progress payment. On 12 April, Monash left again for Perth. Technical drawings and opinions continued to flow between Anderson and Baltzer. The latter's calculations showed that the profiles of the Fyansford arches almost coincided with those for the Anderson Street bridge, which meant that M&A could re-use CG&Co's centres with only slight modification. There was a dispute over the thickness of the Fyansford arches, with Anderson giving way to the more cautious Baltzer, but after the latter criticised Anderson's proposals for the piers there was a major dispute and a cooling of relations between the Melbourne and Sydney offices.

By early May, the piers were almost complete and preparations were made to excavate for the abutments. Anderson persuaded Campbell, somehow with Catani's assistance, to provide drawings showing an enlarged abutment block, guaranteeing more than 100 cubic yards of excess concrete. By the end of the month, tension between M&A and the Councils was growing steadily. The Shire and its officers seemed to be delaying measurement of work and payments, and Anderson had still not received a formal copy of the contract. He briefly stopped work, on the grounds that the Shires were not fulfilling their side of the agreement, but received advice that this was risky from a legal point of view. By early June he reported to Monash:

… Campbell and Morris advised me to interview the Committee since the members were very badly disposed towards us at our having shewn ourselves so willing to take advantage of their financial weakness. I therefore attended it and learnt that the suspicion you mention in your last letter was correct, namely, that the Shire of Bannockburn is trying to make all payments as small as possible, and reduce their interest a/c at the bank. Corio Shire has not yet come to the scratch and the government only refunds 1/3 of our receipted documents, and after a delay. We are still waiting for our copy of the specification.

The councillors had declared that in future they intended to be "just as keen" as M&A in business matters. Anderson had assured them there was nothing personal in his approach to business, and reminded them that he, as well as they, had responsibilities to others.

Following this, there was a crisis with the west abutment block. Catani had acquired a copy of a design for the abutments prepared by Baltzer which showed smaller dimensions than those on Campbell's drawing. Using the power warranted by the government grant he had instructed Campbell to adopt the smaller size. Anderson was obliged to provide Catani with computations to justify the larger block. Then Anderson became concerned that the ground at the bottom of the excavation was unreliable and called in Catani and George Forrest, CG&Co's manager on the Anderson Street bridge, to examine it. He reported to Monash that Forrest took "quite an alarmist view of things", and recommended reinforcing the base of the abutment block with an embedded grid of old rails. This was done, and M&A claimed later that Campbell had given his verbal agreement.

The struggle over payments continued through June, with Anderson complaining of "delays and insufficiencies" and the Bridge Committee asserting that Campbell had "rather erred on the generous side". Anderson consoled himself that he was accumulating grounds for making major claims at the end of the project: delays in payments; slowness and mistakes in setting out the work; and extra depth in the abutments. These and other items he totalled to £866. He was confident that by the time Monash returned this figure could be doubled. On 23 June he finally received a copy of the Specifications in the version accepted by the Councils. However it appears that he (and Campbell too) remained unaware of the stipulation in the Shires' copy that all extras must be authorised in writing by the "President of the Shire".

Construction of the superstructure.

By 20th June the abutments were "one-and-three-quarters" complete. Campbell supplied drawings for the architectural treatment of the superstructure and agreed to the placing of an extra 100 cubic yards of concrete above the abutments to improve stability. The additional weight deflected the thrust from the arch downwards, bringing it closer to the vertical. Anderson set about persuading him and the Joint Committee that expensive ornamental mouldings would improve the appearance of the bridge. On 4th July Monash returned at last from Perth to take an active part in the partnership's activities in Victoria. On the 8th, the Committee recommended a large progress payment of £1120. Cr Stewart, who had been an early supporter of the Monier alternative became restive and accused Campbell of wrongfully allowing extras. Cr James MacDonald also shifted his position, but laid equal blame on the Committee for not consulting with the full Council. This prompted Stewart to offer his resignation, which was not accepted. Shortly after, word was received that the government had approved another £604 towards the bridge and Bannockburn successfully floated a loan of £1500 in 60 debentures of £25 each.

The level specified for the superstructure of the bridge was now raised slightly, perhaps as part of efforts to lessen the steepness of the approach roads. The Monier concrete was cast on the downstream side of all three arches on 14th, 15th and 16th August, constituting half their width. Monash then conferred with Campbell to fix the nature of all work still to be done and summarised this on a drawing showing the engineering and architectural details of the superstructure [Dossier, p.131]. After a further meeting which included Anderson, Campbell signed the drawing and M&A then treated it as an instruction to carry out the work shown.

On 12th September, M&A again protested at Campbell's slowness in making decisions and authorising payments. But on the same day Stewart was again on the attack in a meeting of the Bannockburn Council. The contract specified high retention rates in view of the perceived "experimental" nature of the project. Until the bridge was handed over, M&A were entitled to only 40% of the value of the Monier work and the superstructure it carried, and 75% of other work. Stewart noted they had received £3000 so far and claimed this exceeded what could be due to them under the contract. The chairman of the Committee, Cr Harvey, assured him that, with the bridge expected to cost about £5000, the Council in effect held more than £2000 of the contractors' money. It had advanced £422 against the value of plant on site, and M&A could not remove this. It also held their deposit of £225. He therefore felt the situation was well in hand. The meeting approved the current progress payment, but Stewart successfully moved that Council approach its solicitor for his opinion on "certain questions" in connection with the contract. Campbell was ordered to have a full report ready for a Joint Conference due on 16th.

A further source of tension between the Council and M&A in September was the contractor's plans to withdraw the bridge gang to cast one side of the arches at Wheeler's Bridge near Creswick. They justified this by claiming that Campbell's slowness in issuing orders made it necessary to keep the gang busy elsewhere. Campbell was not convinced. On M&A's side, the financial situation was still not good. Professional work was scarce and they were obliged to ask for credit from both Taylor and Gummow.

Monash's diary suggests that this photograph was taken on 25 October, 1899, when he and his wife Vic watched the casting of the north side of the westernmost span. Image courtesy of Peter F B Alsop, Geelong.

In October the centres were shifted sideways so that the upstream side of the bridge could be cast. The East span was completed on 11th, the West on 25th, and the centre span on 26th. On that day, Campbell and Martin took over complete control of the completion of the bridge, issuing drawings on site and supervising construction of the upstream spandrel, the filling and the parapet walls. The records sighted by the author provide no evident reasons for this, but it was in keeping with the original agreement concerning supervision and was perhaps marked the end of the specialist Monier phase of construction. By 10th September certificates issued by Campbell amounted to £5367, though much of it was still retained. A progress payment of £363 was approved over the protests of Stewart. By the end of November 1899 the centering had been struck and the filling completed. In December traffic began to use the bridge unofficially and M&A's men were, in Monash's words, merely "pottering about" adding the finishing touches.

Disputation and test.

The contractors were keen to have the bridge tested and accepted, as a first step towards full payment. A dispute therefore arose over Campbell's refusal to issue the final certificate on the grounds that minor matters were still outstanding. In mid January 1900 M&A called in the arbitrator and obtained a ruling that the bridge should be tested forthwith. M&A pointed out they had received only £3763 to date and requested a further £1000. From 8th to 10th February Campbell worked in M&A's office to calculate the quantity of work done under the various items of the schedule, and to negotiate all claims. Relations must have been reasonably civil as Campbell went to Monash's home for dinner on the second evening, continued work there, and stayed overnight. After considerable bargaining, agreement was reached on a final figure of £6142 for the complete project. Campbell prepared a letter and Final Statement for the councils, while M&A prepared a form of account to be forwarded.

On 16th February amidst much public and official interest, the bridge was tested by heavily-loaded horse-drawn wagons and the Council steam roller. On 27th Campbell broke the news to the Corio Shire Council that the final price would be £6027, a slight reduction on the figure agreed with Monash. When M&A received his final certificate they hurriedly announced that if the Shires paid the £6142 claimed, they would "waive all other claims and sign a quittance".

The Fyansford Monier Arch Bridge in 2008. The third span is obscured by tree growth. Photo: Wendy Tonkin.

A Joint Conference was called to consider the claim and, as the "Geelong Advertiser" reported, "The matter was debated at considerable length, and the discussion took an acrimonious turn at times." Stewart was again prominent, criticising Campbell and M&A. Jones appeared to be swinging round to his view. There was talk of approaching the government for further funding, and it was decided that the Council's solicitor should once more be consulted. A week later Campbell was instructed to draw up an amended statement of accounts, based on the assumption that many of his orders for extras had been invalid. On 6th April, the Shires offered the basic £4500 plus £750 for extras of which the Joint Committee had approved. This made a total of £5250 compared with the £6142 claimed by M&A. The contractors responded by delivering to court their claim for £2109 on top of the £4506 they had by this time received. At a further Joint Conference on 2 August, Stewart questioned Campbell's veracity, causing him to threaten to leave the room and let the councillors fight the legal battle without his assistance. At the next Bannockburn meeting Stewart announced he would not seek re-election as "such a mess had been made of the Fyansford Bridge contract that he could not ask anyone for a vote".

Legal action.

The hearing commenced before Justice Williams on 17 June 1901. M&A were represented by Bryant and Cussen and the Shires by Isaacs and Mitchell. The Shires' defence was planned to cover all eventualities of judgement. Amongst other things, they denied the contract existed as set out by M&A, alleging it was a bulk sum contract. If it were a schedule of rates contract, then M&A had fraudulently misled them. They denied M&A had executed any of the extras claimed, denying Campbell's measurements made and the values calculated. They denied Campbell had certified the bridge complete and denied he had given any orders in writing for extras. They pointed out that no extras had been authorised in writing by the President of the Shire. They denied they had breached the contract and caused damage to M&A by falling behind with payments, delaying instructions, and delaying the test.

M&A's lawyers pointed out that, throughout the project, the Shire Councils, the Joint Committee and Morris, as well as Campbell, had acted as though the contract was based on a schedule. However, they were on somewhat shaky legal ground when they argued that the drawings they had extracted from Campbell were "orders in writing". The Shires' lawyers maintained the contract was clearly for a bulk sum but, to be on the safe side, disputed every item of M&A's claim. The major points at issue were the increase in the size of the pier foundations and abutment blocks, the extra concrete poured above the abutments, the volume of spalls inserted in the mass concrete, the raising of the level of the superstructure and road surface, and the more elaborate architectural treatment. Argument about the size of the foundations hinged on the fact that M&A were required to take them three feet into solid clay. The drawings indicated a level at which sufficiently firm clay could be found, but this was proved to be wrong when the foundations were excavated. The Shires argued that this was part of the normal risk of a bulk sum contract. M&A argued that it should be covered by extra payment at scheduled rates.

In his judgement [Dossier, Vol.2] Justice Williams showed himself sympathetic to M&A and unimpressed by the Shires' conduct. The charge of fraud had been scandalous. He found the Plaintiffs had "conducted themselves throughout as honest contractors" and had tried "to make this bridge a thorough success." The Joint Committee had known that M&A were doing a great deal of extra work and had made no attempt to dissuade them. He suspected they had never thought of avoiding paying for the extras until they consulted Harwood "in 1900". He found all witnesses to have been truthful (except a supplier of spalls), though Anderson and Monash were the more accurate. He added:

Mr Campbell, the Defendants' chief witness, I believe to be a truthful man, and considering the very difficult position he occupied, actuated by a spirit of fairness and justice to the contractors, and of loyalty to the Shires, he gave his evidence in a way that is in my opinion, highly creditable to him.

Regarding the nature of the contract, Justice Williams's reading of all documents taken together was that payment under the contract should not exceed £4506-12-0, over-riding certain individual clauses which suggested otherwise. On the other hand, the work for which M&A had tendered was the work shown on the plan, and this had indicated firm clay at a higher level than existed in fact. Therefore extra work caused by the increased depth of the foundations should be paid for at the rates set out in the Schedule. He dismissed the argument that this was part of the normal contractor's risk. He decided, with some doubt, that Campbell's drawings and letters did constitute orders in writing for most of the extras claimed. He saw the actions of the Joint Committee in constantly accepting additional work confirmed this, or at least waived their right to complain of non-compliance with strict procedure. A similar reasoning applied to the alleged need for instructions in writing by the President of the Shire. Williams J therefore awarded M&A £1902-10-0 with costs. However, he had expressed a conviction throughout the case that it would inevitably be taken to appeal.


The financial situation of M&A showed no immediate signs of improvement and Monash was obliged to ask Taylor and Gummow for further credit. In addition to the £1900 owed by the Shires, court costs had amounted to £1000 and it would be costly to fight an appeal. On 23 September 1901 Campbell tendered his resignation as Engineer to Corio Shire in view of a forthcoming rationalisation of official positions. In December, as the Shires had not paid the sum awarded, M&A had the Sheriffs seize the contents of the two town halls. This appears to have been a tactical move designed to reduce the Shires' ability to finance an appeal. The subsequent auctions raised less than £80 for M&A. In their meeting for March 1902, Bannockburn decided they could afford to accept no further tenders for public works, and in September floated a further loan for £1500. In May 1902, Anderson accepted a salaried position as Chief Engineer of the Sewerage Board in Dunedin, New Zealand, which was planning a major new scheme. He had been considering such a move for some years, but had let slip a previous opportunity to take up the Dunedin post. Now the resignation of the current incumbent, and the straightened circumstances of the partnership persuaded him it was time to act. He and Monash agreed to keep the partnership operating, but it lapsed fairly quickly and was formally dissolved in 1905.

The Councils Appeal to the Full Court.

The Appeal ran from 4th to 13th February 1902 before Justices Holroyd, a'Beckett and Hodges. The judgement was written up by Holroyd J and delivered in September. [Dossier, Vol.2]. He expressed considerable sympathy with M&A, and criticised the Shires' staff for failing to provide M&A with an accurate copy of the only executed set of contract documents. "Designedly or not", he wrote, M&A "were entrapped into binding themselves by a stipulation which they would have rejected; and at the time when the trap was laid, Morris and Campbell were in my opinion acting as Agents of the Joint Committee". Yet this was irrelevant, because it had "unfortunately" not been proved that either Shire had agreed to execute any contract other than the one executed by Bannockburn. Holroyd therefore concurred with Williams J that it was a bulk sum contract. He also agreed that work additional to that originally specified had been performed, and that this included the extra foundation work below the level defined in the documents. Concerning the authorisation of extras, Campbell "received from [M&A] suggestions for additional works or variations … and he suggested additions and variations himself". Sometimes he referred these to the Committee or the Councils. When he did not, this was because he saw it as his duty to require them for "the proper construction of the bridge" and M&A had shared this view. Holroyd thought Campbell mistaken in this, especially with respect to the foundations of the piers.

Holroyd assumed the Committee must have known of the "President of the Shire" clause and criticised them and President Jones for ignoring it. He felt it was as much Campbell's duty to obtain that signature as it was M&A's to demand it, and he blamed the Committee for not obliging Campbell to do so. However, he concluded that the Committee had never sanctioned extras within the original contract in any way "nor ever held out the Superintending Engineer as a person authorised to order for them". The value of extras, outside the contract, for which they were genuinely responsible was only £164. Added to the damages for delays this made a total of £304, which sum must be paid to M&A out of the £725 brought into Court by the Shires. Judgment was entered for the Shires, but because M&A had established a part of their claim it would be difficult to disentangle costs so these were excluded. Justice a'Beckett publicly regretted having to concur in the judgment on legal grounds, while the major Melbourne newspapers: the "Argus", "Herald", and "Age", expressed their sympathy for M&A. "The Herald" even commented that "There is more than a suspicion of sharp dealing on the part of the shires …" This was not appreciated by the Bannockburn councillors, who ordered Morris to write a letter setting out the Councils' position.


Cussen urged M&A to appeal to the Privy Council in London. The timing was convenient because Anderson was briefly in Melbourne on a regular visit, but it would not be easy to find the necessary finance. M&A now owed £520 to the Shires and would be obliged to deposit £500 as security for Privy Council costs. Creditors were once again asked for their patience, while David Mitchell, a major contractor himself, proved willing to assist with finance. At the end of October Monash set about preparing the Transcript for Appeal, but by 31st December was having second thoughts. Even if the case were successful, costs would eat into the sum awarded. A further £400 would be needed for expenses and Monash would have to take leave from his business and visit England to personally instruct Counsel. The Shires' barrister had threatened to cross appeal, and there was a finite possibility that M&A would lose. Monash noted that Anderson's "fighting instinct would not allow him to give in" but eventually it was agreed that Monash should have a free hand and a settlement was negotiated by which M&A withdrew their appeal and took back out of court about £450, most of which went to pay costs. The result was that M&A lost over £3000 invested in the bridge itself and in the court battles.

On 28 April 1903 Monash noted in his diary "Much rush + headache … Fyansford case settled". The "Geelong Advertiser" reported that "an audible sigh of relief" was heard when the news was announced at the next Corio meeting. "General satisfaction was expressed on all sides … and complimentary reference was made to the arduous labors of Mr S Morris … who during the struggle manfully bore the brunt of the fight on behalf of the two councils. It is probable that something more substantial than eulogistic remarks will be tendered to that worthy officer as a just reward for his labors." (This later proved to be the sum of £30.)

In December 1905 there was concern over the state of the spandrel walls which seem to have shifted outwards due to the pressure of the fill. They were strengthened by the insertion of cross-ties. Late in 1906 the engineer of the nearby Shire of Barrabool made tentative enquiries of Monash concerning a reinforced concrete bridge, but noted that "there is a good deal of prejudice against Monier bridges in this district on account of some law case re Fyansford Bridge some years ago". Monash is said to have retained an aversion to the bridge which extended past his years of service in the First World War. Campbell appears to have worked in the area for two more years, then went to Western Australia, probably working as a surveyor. His son followed him to W.A. and obtained work in the same field, but contracted enteric fever in survey camp. Campbell went to see him, caught the disease, and died in June 1907 at the age of 47. [Information provided by Mr John Campbell.]

Despite the complex political and technical interplay that accompanied the planning and construction of the bridge, it has remained sound to the present day, maintained by the Shires, then the Country Roads Board of Victoria and the Road Construction Authority.

An internal memo by P. F. B. Alsop reads: "Repair work is being concentrated on the parapet walls, the intrados of each arch and the arch rings. Some cracking in the spandrel walls will be repaired or sealed. Concrete is being replaced with an equivalent mix and [endangered] reinforcing steel in the arches is being cleaned and treated with rust-converting materials, or, if it is too far gone, it is being replaced with new steel. Only those areas in the arches where steel corrosion has cracked the concrete are being treated. Large areas of pebble dash render were missing on the parapets, piers and abutments and this is being replaced. The pavement has been regulated and a reseal will be applied … It is expected that this will reduce the inflows of water to the fill over the arches."

Although the Anderson Street Bridge was completed, tested and accepted before the Fyansford Bridge, its approach roads were not complete at the time, and the Fyansford Bridge was thus the first in Victoria to be opened to traffic.

Plaquing Ceremony 2012

On 12 October 2012 a ceremony took place to unveil an Engineering Heritage Marker and a Panel explaining the significance of the Fyansford Monier Arch Bridge. The ceremony was arranged by Engineering Heritage Victoria, a Special Interest Group of The Institution of Engineers Australia, in association with the City of Greater Geelong and VicRoads. The speakers included Peter Alsop.

Further images

Near the top of this page is a list of five images available online within UMAIC, the image collection of the University of Melbourne Archives. UMA holds additional prints, not available online at the time of writing this note (May 2010).


Note 1: This history was extracted from our Dossier on the Fyansford Bridge and edited for presentation here. Embedded footnotes referring to individual items in the archives have been omitted. The Dossier includes details of archival sources, dimensions, a list of personalities, and a 'Timeline' in which all correspondence known to our research team was recorded chronologically in precis or verbatim form.

Note 2: In trying to discern some pattern in the complex events which surrounded the planning and construction of the bridge the author relied heavily on Alsop, P. F. B. "A History of the Reinforced Concrete Arch Bridge over the Moorabool River at Fyansford", amended version, 1982. (First delivered as a lecture, October 1971.) This source also provided a comprehensive list of relevant articles in the "Geelong Advertiser".

Note 3: An error in quoting William Julius Baltzer's first name has been carried over into several dossiers. It appears on page 11 of this one.