HOBART – Sunday. The Premier Mr A. G. Ogilvie announced tonight that the Government intended to submit a bill to Parliament on October 13 to permit a private company to construct a pontoon type of bridge across the Derwent between Government House Point and midway between Lindisfarne and Bellerive and to levy toll charges. (The Mercury 21 September 1936)

The company was duly established, with capital of £200,000, but Ogilvie did not live to see the bridge’s completion. He died suddenly in 1939 aged just 48. Two of largest shareholders of the company were his widow, Dorothy Ogilvie, and the controversial Dr Victor Ratten, who was a close friend.

As is often the case in such projects, the costs blew out. One issue was that the Government had provided an ‘erroneous’ report regarding the foundations at one end of the floating bridge. For this reason an interest free loan of £31,000 was made to the company. It was highly controversial decision.

Having been born and raised in Tasmania but now a resident of New South Wales. I adore this little bit of spin on the subject;

‘Whereas Sydney’s bridge cost £10,000,000, the new structure on the Derwent will cost this City only £33,1000.’


The Hobart Bridge was of unique design and construction, and the first of its type anywhere in the world. It was a floating bridge with a lift span, constructed of hollow concrete pontoons, 24 in all, connected together forming a crescent shape, curved upstream.

The bridge was constructed in 12 pontoon sections which were then towed out into the river and connected to the banks and to each other in the middle. …..The total length of the roadway was 961 metres (3,154 ft.) The total width of the bridge was 12 metres (40 ft 6 in) At the western end a large lifting section was provided to allow ships to pass. (Source -Wikipedia).

A large, vertical locking pin joined the two halves mid-stream.

The bridge opened in 1943.

Opening day for the floating bridge.

Paying the two shilling toll.

Paying the toll on the floating bridge.
Source – Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office

Crossing in heavy weather could be an ‘interesting experience’ 😎.

Source – The Story of Two Bridges (Platypus Publications)


By the 1960s it was clear that the structure was unable to cope with ever increasing traffic and had to go.

The floating bridge beside the Tasman Bridge under construction.

The superseded floating bridge was taken down in 1964, and wild weather once again played havoc with the work;

A FIGHTENING INCIDENT (From TasmanianTimes.com)

The central locking pin was preserved and is displayed outside the Royal Engineers Building in Davey Street.

To watch a 1962 video of the floating bridge opening to allow a ship to pass through, CLICK HERE.

  1. Where did the capital of £200,000 come from in the first place? (1st line, 2nd para)
    Interesting looking bridges!

    • Pauline

      The capital was from the investors who set up the private company. They had hoped to make money from the tolls.

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