Throughout the mid-semester break, I have been able to make some preliminary research on topics surrounding the bridge. I have found that there is some information available online, most of which is available on various websites who have compiled information in an exhibition – style format. This information is great and readily accessible, though much of it covers the collapse itself rather than the before/after aspects. See here.
The next step that I have taken is moving past google and searching online library’s catalogues from RMIT and the state library. There are two main books which have been great resources, the first being ‘Understanding Bridge Collapses’ written by Bjorn Akesson. In the Westgate bridge chapter, Akesson outlines the reasons behind the collapse of the bridge and also provides insight into some of the events which acted as a precursor to the collapse, most notably the collapse of the bridge in Milford Haven, Wales in June 1970 which was constructed by Freeman and Fox – the same designers of the west gate – and was, like the west gate, a box girder bridge. This information has been included in similar texts, like ‘Westgate’ written by Bill Hitchings, and has been mentioned in many of the documentaries and interviews on the topic of the west gate which are available online. Tom Watson, survivor of the collapse, speaks in this video below about the strikes which occured on the west gate once the news of the Milford Haven collapse had reached Melbourne. Note that many of the details of the collapse Tom includes in this speech are quite disturbing.
This is something which I find particularly intriguing – that there was a degree of scepticism surrounding the bridge so soon before it collapsed, largely bought on by the collapse of this other, quite similar bridge. The advocacy of the worker’s at the time of the event, particularly informs my curiosity of this – because they were the ones that went on strike because they were concerned, but also were the ones to bare so much of the consequences of the collapse. If I am able to, this is something that I would like to ask an interviewee about.
Speaking of which, we have made some successful contact with interviewees, and people who can provide insight into the history of the west gate. I am quite excited at the prospect of being able to interviewee them, while also quite wary of our approach, because of the sensitive nature of the subject and my lack of experience with the subject – so because of this, research has been really important to do within this pre – production stage.
Åkesson, B. (2008). Understanding bridge collapses. London: Taylor & Francis. Available at: EBSCO Host eBooks. [Accessed 8th September 2018]
Hitchings, B. (1979). West Gate. Victoria, Australia: Outback Press. Available at: State Library of Victoria. [Accessed 9th September 2018]