West Gate Bridge seen from the city side.
Source: Museum Victoria
Today marks the 40th anniversary of the collapse of the West Gate Bridge, described by a royal commission as "the most tragic industrial accident in the history of Victoria."
35 men died and many were injured during construction of the bridge when a large section tumbled to the ground. The royal commission determined that a series of errors in design and construction caused the collapse.
The disaster shook Melbourne and hundreds of rescue workers and volunteers rushed to the site to help. Its impact was felt worldwide, as construction of similar bridges in other countries halted to allow new safety checks. Some survivors became activists for workplace safety, campaigning to ensure no accident on this scale would occur again.
Work on the bridge was completed in 1978 and it became a vital link between Geelong and western industrial areas, and central Melbourne. In 2004, West Gate Memorial Park was established to honour and remember those who died in the the accident. It features 35 pillars, one for each of the workers who lost their lives.
The West Gate Bridge is a prominent feature of the skyline at Scienceworks, where an exhibit explains the current improvement works to the bridge. West Gate Bridge objects are also on display in The Melbourne Story including an example of steel cable and a copy of the royal commission report.