Primary Sources 50 stories from 50 years of the Archives

Monash's engineering innovation

Sir John Monash is best known for his role as a successful and innovative commander of Australian forces during World War I — many say 'the best'. Before that, up to the age of 49, he was head of a thriving civil engineering company that introduced reinforced concrete into Victoria. His work included bridges, water towers and city buildings.

Monash was at first in partnership with JTN Anderson, who acquired for them the licence to the Monier brand of reinforced concrete. In 1902 Anderson left for New Zealand. The request from James Cleeland, Shire Engineer at Mansfield for a mediumsized arched bridge near the edge of the town, which was to become known as the Ford's Creek Bridge, was therefore handled solely by Monash. The records reflect his particular pride and meticulous interest in the project, including numerous discussions, supervision of the casting (or 'turning') of the arch, and attending the formal ceremony of the load test.

Some councillors strongly opposed the use of the 'new' material, but when tenders were called in mid-1903, Monash's proposal for an arch was accepted. Photographs show the turning of the arch on 3 October 1903 (Monash can be seen holding papers) and the testing of the completed bridge, with the weight of a traction engine, on 31 October.

top of page