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Hornibrook legacy lives on

Posted: 9am 28 Oct 2020

Julie Hornibrook is justifiably proud of the legacy her grandfather left for the Redcliffe Peninsula – and for Queensland as a whole.

Sir Manuel Richard Hornibrook was the visionary behind what was to become the longest road viaduct in the Southern Hemisphere.

He worked with his five brothers to see the project – which linked Clontarf to Sandgate - to fruition.

Ms Hornibrook, who will speak at the Redcliffe Museum on October 31 to mark 85 years since the Hornibrook Highway was opened, said it was touching Redcliffe still had such affection for the bridge.

Vision and determination

“One of the reasons Hornibrook was so beloved (as a company) was because it looked after the workforce.”

“The company had a vision and determination. It was kind of heroic what they did – they had terrible weather and finances were difficult,” she said.

The Hornibrook Highway was the second of three bridges built by the Hornibrooks, providing desperately needed employment during the Great Depression.

Trio of bridges

The first, the William Jolly Bridge, opened in May 1932, 10 days after the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Hornibrook Highway followed, opening in October 1935 and work began on the Story Bridge that same year.

“They were building up the skills for the workforce,” Ms Hornibrook said.

“I think that 10 years in the family must have been really intense because Grandpa would have lived and breathed work and his brothers worked with him.”

Treasured memories

Ms Hornibrook recalled the bridge named in honour of her family as providing a backdrop to her childhood.

“I remember driving over the Hornibrook Highway when we would visit my grandparents on Sundays,” Ms Hornibrook said.

“We didn’t have seatbelts and we would see who could hit their heads on the roof of the car.

“It was only later that we realised that our adventures were grandpa watching over his works.”

Proud legacy

Ms Hornibrook said her grandfather was proud the works built the profile of Queensland – and Australia – in the Commonwealth.

“There was an immense sense of pride and that’s what we see today in Redcliffe, we still see that pride.”

She gained a fellowship with the State Library in 2015, which allowed her to research the Hornibrook Highway and the William Jolly and Story bridges.
As part of the fellowship, Ms Hornibrook gave a series of talks and said she was touched by the people who shared their own and their family’s memories and connections with the Hornibrook Highway.

“Women pulled me aside and told me women whose babies were overdue would go over the bridge in the hope the bumps would bring on the baby – then one man stood up and told me he’d been born on the bridge.”

Julie Hornibrook will speak at the Redcliffe Museum on October 31 from 10.30-11.30am. Entry is free, but bookings are required.

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