The Princes Bridge location has long been the major crossing point of the Yarra, firstly using punts and then a wooden bridge from 1845.
The large single span granite and basalt bridge in the photo was opened in 1850 providing toll free access to the south side of the city. It was the first permanent bridge over the Yarra and was the longest stone arch (length 45.7 metres) ever built in Australia.
The discovery of gold in Victoria, 1851, led to an enormous increase in the population and shipping which meant the bridge quickly needed to be replaced.
The photo shows the demolition of the substantial first Princes Bridge. The present 1888 bridge is longer and spanned a river widened in order to mitigate against floods.
The photograph was taken by Charles Nettleton (1826-1902). He was one of the great outdoor photographers in Victoria from the time of his arrival in 1854. The Royal Historical Society of Victoria (RHSV) has many fine examples of his considerable output.
The RHSV is the peak body for local history in Victoria. It has an active program of exhibitions, monthly Tuesday night talks, a book shop specialising in the history of Victoria, and collections for research.
Everybody is welcome: see our events at www.historyvictoria.org.au