Home Historic Day 88: Jolly old bridge

Day 88: Jolly old bridge

Day 88: Jolly old bridge
William Jolly Bridge

William Jolly BridgeAS a kid making a big trip to the city, the mention of the William Jolly Bridge conjured up all sorts of notions, not least among them the wonder of how a bridge could be jolly.

While it’s a very nice bridge, it’s not at all jolly but just very functional as a link between Roma Street and South Brisbane.

William Jolly Bridge
Walk under the arch at West End

Its name actually comes from the first mayor of Brisbane, William Jolly who was in the hot seat when a collection of shires and towns were brought together as  Brisbane City in 1925.

Confusingly, it is also known as the Grey Street Bridge, after the street which runs off it on the South Brisbane side.

I have now discovered that this was its original name when it opened in March 1932. It would seem there was no time for worrying about fancy bridge names during the Great Depression.

The bridge was a project of William Jolly, to take the pressure off the Victoria Bridge further downstream.

Jolly undertook a lot of civil works improving arterial connections for the city  during his tenure as mayor but he had resigned in 1931.

William Jolly Bridge
Mural under the bridge on the south bank

On the bright side, its construction between 1928 and 1932, created plenty of jobs when they were needed most.

William Jolly died in 1955, and not quite a year later, the bridge was officially named in his honour.

It’s now heritage listed and looks beautiful as it stretches across the Brisbane River, its three art deco “rainbow” arches making it stand out in a grand old style.

It has a steel frame with a concrete veneer coloured to make it appear like a light porphyry, the stone popular around Brisbane.

It was designed by Harding Frew, a prominent civil engineer of the day, and is 500 metres long.William jolly BridgeWilliam Jolly Bridge


  1. Great post, Dot

    I suspect it was named this way because it connects Grey Street, South Brisbane (where trains coming from the south once terminated) to Roma Street, in the city (where trains from the north once terminated/interchanged).

    There used to be – what I recall – a perilously slender bumper/stopper/barrier thing at the end of the southside train line (see http://img856.imageshack.us/…/1970ssouthbrisbanestati.jpg) that terminated right above the footpath on Melbourne Street with just a skinny stone wall after it.

    It was almost opposite what was the Greyhound Bus Terminus, where my aunt worked for many years. I was always terrified that a train would fail to stop and would come crashing down on us!

    That was corrected with the building of the rail bridge alongside the Grey Street Bridge and the north and south lines were at last connected. Because the South Brisbane station was the “end of the line” for interstate trains until that time, the building there was quite a deal more salubrious than your average suburban train station.

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