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Unbuilt Monier Arch Projects, page 5.

Gardiner's Creek, Malvern: Monier Arch Projects.

Sketch cross-section of the watercourse spanned by a three-span brick arch bridge. Superimposed is a single Monier arch with a span slightly larger than the central arch of the brick bridge. In this alternative, the bed of the creek has been excavated to increase the water way.

Sketch and handwriting are Monash's.
Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. Collection, University of Melbourne Archives.


This project has some curiosity value, as it relates to two well-known thoroughfares in suburban Melbourne: Bourke Road and Tooroonga Roads, where they crossed Gardiner's Creek. It also illustrates the competition between Monier construction and brick. A note reveals that the brick arches shown on the sketch are those of an existing bridge at Toorak Road. The brief Timeline below carries the story.

In 1913-14 RCMPC built a portal-frame reinforced concrete bridge at this site. [Link.]


1904/08/28: Sketch. Pencil and ink on paper. Note at top: "Propose for Bourke and Tooronga Rds 50' span 7' rise". A note below the drawing reads: "Toorak Rd. Br. 3 brick arches (5 rings on edge). Span 28'-4", Rise 7'-0". Height a (at pier) = 4'-3". Piers 3'-0" wide." The brick arches are drawn in pencil. The Monier arch is in ink.

1904/08/29: M&A to Mr Hughes, Surveyor, City of Malvern. With reference to the new bridges over the creek at Burke Rd and Tooronga Rd, taking the existing bridge as a reliable guide to the waterway required, "We find that a single arch having a span of 50 ft, a rise of 7ft with soffit of arch not more than 2ft below crown of roadway will give a waterway larger than at present provided at Toorak Rd. We estimate that these two bridges, if constructed on the Monier System, similar to the bridge at Anderson St over the Yarra, can be carried out, if separately at £1100 each, if simultaneously, at £1000 each." This is for a 20 ft roadway. The prices allow for ample foundations, and may be reduced when site conditions are known.

1904/08/30: JM Memo. Visited Mr. Hughes on Friday 26th and drove about district with him. Got a glimpse of his outline estimates. Bridges at Tooronga and Burke Roads £2000 (Malvern proportion only). Visited the sites of bridges at Tooronga Rd and Burke Rd, also existing bridge at Toorak Road.

1904/08/31: Hughes to M&A. Thanks for yours of 29th giving the approximate cost of Monier bridges over Gardiner's Creek.

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Proposed Short St Bridge, Bendigo.


This bridge was to carry Short Street probably over Bendigo Creek. The City Surveyor was JM's old sparring partner J. R. Richardson. The proposal is interesting for JM's strong advocacy of reinforced concrete girders. His inclusion of costing for a Monier arch quantifies the economic advantages of T-girder construction at that time.


1905/03/01: JM to Richardson. JM sees in Cazaly's Contract Reporter that Richardson is calling tenders for "Monier decking" for the Short St bridge. This is good, but what about using Monier for the whole bridge? The report says £495 has been allocated. If it is like the Myrtle St site as regards span, skew, width, etc. M&A could submit proposals for something much cheaper. "I have several times in correspondence with you referred to the form of construction known as 'T-girders and plates'. We have in recent times carried out a good deal of this class of work, and under conditions such as you have, the work is really much cheaper than arches, for short spans. The construction is highly scientific in every way and absolutely permanent, and has become a standard form of modern bridge construction for small spans both in America and the Continent of Europe." JM asks for details of the span, skew, width, etc, and the nature of the foundations, so he can quote. He would like to come up to Bendigo to talk to Richardson.

1905/03/03: JM to Richardson Further explanation of the "modern principle" of "T plate construction in reinforced concrete". JM proposes to come up on Tuesday to supply estimates.

1905/03/08: Estimates for a girder bridge of three spans 18' - 61/3" with columns 1'-6" wide:

(A) Reinforced concrete deck on rolled steel joists, 60 ft long on the skew£110
(B) Reinforced concrete superstructure on a stone wall and brick piers with 6 ribs at 4'-4" centres for a width of 24 ft£220
(C) Reinforced concrete bridge as per (B) but sitting on 2 piers, each with 6 reinforced concrete columns on concrete bases£260

1905/03/09: M&A to Richardson. If Richardson has decided on brick piers, M&A will be interested only in the superstructure.

1905/03/13: Outline specification for a reinforced concrete ribbed deck.

1905/03/23: Rough estimate for a Monier arch, based on the Myrtle St bridge but with the same handrail as the new King's Bridge.

1905/05/23: Formal tenders:

for Richardson's design£625
for a reinforced concrete superstructure£310
for a Monier arch bridge£597

1905/03/25: (Telegram.) M&A have won the pipe contract [for the Williamson St sewer] but not the bridge. The successful tender for the bridge was £567-10-0.

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Hindmarsh-Thebarton Tram Bridge (Adelaide).
Monier Arch Proposal.


This project was to connect Osmond and Holland Streets over the Torrens River. It demonstrates Monash's approach to the problem of 'educating the client' who in this case was so keen to have an arch bridge that he designed one himself. It also features the South Australian Reinforced Concrete Company, formed by Monash and others in 1906. Monash, based in Melbourne, acted as consulting engineer to the Company. From May 1907 his chief representative on the ground was W. W. Harvey who had worked in the Melbourne office for some eighteen months. The bridge was required to carry passenger trams across the Torrens River, apparently between Osmond and Holland Streets in the suburbs of Hindmarsh and Thebarton, about two miles from the city centre. It was commissioned by the Municipal Tramways Trust of Adelaide, whose chairman was A. B. Moncrieff, Chief Engineer for South Australia's public works. The chief engineer of the Trust was an electrical engineer, W. G. T. Goodman, and the Trust engineer directly responsible for the project was a Mr Bowman. The proposed arch was to have a span of 100 feet and a rise of 15 feet. Eventually it was agreed that the bridge should be of T-girder construction [link]. The SARCC's tender for this was accepted on 16 July 1908 and the last span was cast on 28 November the same year.


1907/08/19: Harvey to JM concerning a tramway bridge required over the railway at Mile End on the north-west corner of the City. A. B. Moncrieff is Chairman of the Trust.

1907/08/23: JM to Moncrieff. "Our engineering staff have in Victoria and NSW had considerable experience in the construction of reinforced concrete bridges …"

1908/01/14: Blueprint of Goodman's initial design, showing a rolled steel joist under each rail and a vague concrete outline for the deck.

1908/01/14: Blueprint, signed by Goodman, showing the profile of the Torrens River. Levels are given for the apron of the Torrens Dam and the sill of the dam. The tramway track is shown along Holland St.

1908/02/15: Harvey to JM, mentioning correspondence re the Tramway Bridge - about which Nicholls called on Mr. Goodman. [Nicholls seems to have assisted with business and clerical matters in SARCC.] Harvey has received blueprints for it today and will visit the site.

1908/02/17: Harvey to JM, saying he could not find the site because Holland St is not known in the locality. It must be a new street.

1908/02/19: Harvey to JM. The banks are of stiff sandy clay. A handsome bridge is not required - a plain one is expected. "Is an arch bridge likely to run too high in price?"

1908/02/19: JM to Harvey, discussing the site, etc. The idea of a single long span arch - say 100 ft span and rise 15 ft depends on the abutment conditions.

1908/02/24: Harvey to JM. The waterway required and the nature of the abutment foundations rule out an arch. Re appearance: if the Council join in, a more ornamental appearance will be required.

1908/03/23: JM to Harvey. Harvey should meet the Trust Engineers. JM has heard that Bowman is "trying his hand at a Reinforced Concrete Arch design".

1908/03/23: JM to Harvey. This letter is to be shown to Goodman. JM states that an arch would not be suitable. He puts forward his proposal for a T-girder bridge with three spans of 40 ft.

1908/03/25: Harvey to JM, showing Bowman's proposed arch bridge. Harvey is having difficulty dealing with Goodman who is reserved, non-committal, and hard to catch. Bowman likes the arch idea.

1908/03/31: JM to Harvey, re Goodman's letter of 26th saying that Goodman had no objection to JM's proposals. "It was not likely I would … submit objectionable proposals … The least Mr. Goodman can do in thrusting upon us the work of design is to give some lucid expression of the kind of bridge he really wants". Since Harvey has had the most contact with Bowman, can Harvey give some [clue?] as to this and whether SARCC are likely to get the job?

1908/04/05: JM's calculations for the T-girder version.

1908/04/06: JM to Harvey. It will be a week or ten days before RCMPC can get the preliminary design ready. "There is a severe congestion of work in this office. I have had to make substantial additions to the professional staff, and this means heavy work in inducting them into their duties. I mention this so that you will please spare me from unimportant detail as much as possible for the next week or two."

1908/04/15: JM to Harvey enclosing outline drawings for the T-girder alternative.

1908/04/24: Harvey to JM. Moncrieff is calling tenders.

1908/04/25: JM to Harvey. JM fears the specifications might contain some clause which will rule out JM's design because Goodman has not yet looked at them. Therefore Harvey is to lend or show the design to Goodman. "When, as in this case, we find an engineer floundering in ignorance of what he wants, and how to do it, the correct policy is always to nurse him and feed him with ideas until he becomes practically committed to you. A stand-off attitude leaves us entirely without any vested advantages of interest." Harvey is to talk re this to Bakewell and act as he thinks judicious.

E. H. Bakewell was managing director of the South Australian Reinforced Concrete Co.

1908/04/29: Harvey to JM. He could not see Goodman so saw Bowman. Bowman says he will keep the specification open, but Harvey pointed out that the flood level was an important consideration. Bowman did not know what it was, so Harvey told him. This is now to go in the specification. Goodman wants a "crowd load" of 120 [lbs per sq. ft.] and wants the specification to give details of the reinforcement, including the percentage.

1908/05/04: JM to Harvey. Tell Bowman that "… the scientific mode is to stipulate maximum working stresses, 17000, 500, 65 &c, &c, concrete in tension nil. Tell him these intensities have received world-wide attention".

The three figures quoted are the values in pounds per square inch for tension in steel, compression in concrete, and shear in concrete.

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Stockyard Creek, Foster: Monier Arch Proposals

Cross-section of the watercourse with alternative schemes superimposed. There is a low-level Monier arch, a medium level Monier arch, and a very high level girder bridge solution with tall abutments.

Sketch showing alternative Monier arch proposals contrasted with a high-level reinforced concrete girder alternative.
Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co. Collection, University of Melbourne Archives.


The client for this bridge was the Shire of South Gippsland. The Shire Secretary & Engineer was P. Lingford, who appears to have been domiciled in the western suburbs of Melbourne and to have acted for the Shire as consultant. Although Monash was strongly in favour of a girder bridge he did produce, even at this late stage, a design and estimate for an arch version. In the event neither version was accepted.


1908/03/05: Drawing. Ink on linen. Profile of the creek by Lingford, "Consulting Engineer".

1909/03/05: Lingford to JM, noting that Lingford is not empowered to pay the cost.

Although their previous correspondence has not been located, it can be guessed that Lingford had asked RCMPC what would be the cost of a Monier bridge for the crossing - and that Monash, thinking Lingford was seeking a complete design, had requested a fee. As reinforced concrete structures and theoretical texts became more common, Monash was concerned that engineers, particularly those acting as consultants to municipalities, might 'steal' his firm's designs and its expertise. When he was obliged to provide specifications and drawings for tender purposes, he resisted attempts to make him specify details of reinforcing.

1909/03/23: Lingford to JM. What he wanted was "an approximate estimate only for the purpose of inducing the Council to adopt the Monier principle if possible". Please do nothing further in the matter until you hear from me.

1908/08/02: Estimate. Scribbled by JM and based on the Gellies (Emu Creek) bridge. £530.

Gellies was a T-girder bridge.

1908/08/02: Lingford to JM, saying he wants a tender for the meeting on Wed., 12th August.

1908/08/03: JM to Lingford. The height of the abutments results in high cost. The superstructure of a 30ft span bridge is not likely to cost more than £165, but the abutments and wing walls might come to £220 or £250 each. Therefore JM suggests three spans of 30ft with the superstructure costing about £450 + the piers and abuts. He cannot see how the bridge alone can be less than £600. Is it worth going into detailed design?

1908/08/04: Lingford to JM. The Shire President and some councillors will be in town [Melbourne] tomorrow on a deputation and Lingford will put JM's letter before them.

1909/01/14: JM's instructions to his assistant engineer H. G. Jenkinson re design of the girder bridge.

1909/01/15: HM to Lingford, re local material.

1909/01/15,16: Computations, quantities, and estimate for the beam bridge. £680.

no date: Call for tenders, returnable Tuesday, 26 January 1909.

1909/01/18: Drawing: Pencil on back of paysheet. Schemes for arch and girder alternatives superimposed (see above). Carries a brief estimate as follows:

Arch48' × 55' × 9" = 1980c.f. @ 3/-= 297
Spandrils4/20' × 6' × 2' = 960c.f. @ 1/6 = 72
Wings4/20' × 6' × 2' = 960c.f. @ 1/-=   48
Add Sundries    100
   say £544

1909/01/19: Lingford to JM. In reply to yours of yesterday … I think it will be as well not to proceed further with … plans until I have had an opportunity of laying the matter before the Council.

1909/02/18: Jenkinson's more detailed calculations and estimate for the arch. Span 33ft, rise 9ft. £595.

1909/02/19: JM to W Jones, Esq., Foster. "Since your call on 12/2 I have been giving careful consideration to your request to see whether some more favourable proposal regarding the execution of above work in reinforced concrete could be submitted. I have completely worked out a design for an arch bridge and also a design for a single span flat bridge. As I feared, in both these cases the cost would exceed that of a three span bridge, owing … to the very heavy abutment and wing walls Therefore the best proposal is the one already submitted to your Engineer on 18/1 viz. 3 span bridge for £680 including approaches … if the project is to subscribe the additional £80 locally, my Company would be pleased to subscribe £10 towards the amount, as we are desirous of securing work in your district".
"The 3 span bridge proposed would be a very much more handsome structure than would be accomplished by either of the other proposals …"