TALK : Royal Heritage Society of Victoria presents 'The Rise and Fall of the Iron Bridge' by Miles Lewis

239 A'Beckett St Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia

Presented by the Royal Heritage Society of Victoria (RHSV), Emeritus Professor Miles Lewis AM will discuss prefabricated iron bridges and their usage.

The earliest cast iron bridges imitated those in timber or stone, because there was no established idea of what an iron bridge should be like, and most of them were simple arches. But over the next century wrought iron, and then steel, became important bridge-building materials.  The arch bridge was joined by the suspension bridge, the box girder, the parallel-chorded girder, and even more elaborate forms.

Bridges fabricated in Europe were sent across the world to places like Latin America, Japan, and India.  Exported bridges faced special problems – the cost and difficulty of transporting the components, the lack of skilled labour at the site, and unexpected foundation problems and hydrological conditions.


Miles Lewis, AM FAHA, is an architectural historian specialising in the interaction between technology and culture in areas such as vernacular architecture and prefabrication, and in technical innovation generally.  He edited the international text Architectura, and has this year published a book, Architectural Drawings: Collecting in Australia. He is an emeritus professor of the University of Melbourne, and currently a member of the Portable Buildings World Heritage Nomination Task Force.