Blue Bridge Control Shack

Just before Christmas I had about 20 minutes to kill downtown on a frosty clear morning. Just enough time to rush out to the Johnson Street Bridge and take a few quick pictures. I noticed that the bridge had an interesting reflection in the window of the control shack where the operator resides, raising the bridge for marine traffic when needed. I was peering and pointing my camera when the door next to the window opened abruptly. How embarrassing, it must have looked like I was looking in, when I was just trying to get the reflection lined up. Which needless to say did not really happen.

But, I explained myself and the guy invited me into his domain and even allowed me to take some pictures. I wished I had had some seasonal cheer in my bag, even shortbread or mince tarts or something to give to him. He did seem to appreciate a bit of company. Anyway, I snapped and ran and even made my appointment on time. Today I am showing you the control shack on the Johnson Street Bridge, locally called The Blue Bridge, ever since it was painted a bright but pale blue a few decades ago.

The bridge is soon to be demolished and replaced. It has been allowed to rot, some think deliberately in order to be able to remove it. I doubt that. It is more likely that a big chunk of steel like this spanning a bit of ocean and subjected to salt at all times of the year will get fatal rust after 90 odd years. However, it is a shame as it is one of few bridges of this design that survive, and is very much a Victoria landmark.  In the next few days I will show you more of the bridge. But for today, it is just the shack, mostly its insides, since it is not often that anyone gets to look around in there.

I am using a gallery again today – mostly I just don’t have time to arrange the photos and insert them one by one into a post. Or, in other words, it’s past my bedtime. Also, I kind of like the gallery feature – it does a good job of displaying the images in a large format and allowing viewers to select the ones they want to see larger. I did not have time to take images that were interesting in and of themselves and I was more concerned with documentation than with ‘art’. But, I hope you find some of them interesting for their content, if not their form.




13 thoughts on “Blue Bridge Control Shack

  1. This is a great great set my friend, I enjoyed it very much. This is a facility that brings a bit of sadness to me and my friends here, we truly recognize this structure as a very important piece of the city’s heritage. We are very sad it’s about to be demolished to make way for a new bridge. We were planning on heading over there in the spring ourselves to do a HDR series, but I am thinking you’ve done such a great job here already! I’ve often wondered about what was inside that control shack, and you’ve done a wonderful job of documenting that! A highlight of my week, to say the least!


    • Toad, you really must do an HDR series on the bridge. I was very rushed and there is lots more to be done and many other views. Under the bridge too 🙂 But seriously, its such a complex structure that the more pictures the better. I bet if you are hanging around taking pictures and then ask to see inside that the guy would probably let you in. I only got one corner. There is a very large comfy worn chair in there, like a small couch built for one. Probably it has a funky washroom too. Anyway, I would love to see your images of the bridge and control shack and so on. How are your powers of persuasion? Maybe you can talk your way into the machine room that is up in the middle of the bridge – that has to be a very cool place.


      • Thanks my friend! It is on our ToDo list but when I saw your post here I really didn’t want to step on your toes; you really did a great job! Once things unthaw a bit, I’ll head on over and see what I can do! As you know, we love to document these sorts of things while they’re still here. Best wishes, my friend, try and stay warm, eh?


      • Hey Toad – I don’t have those kinds of toes that feel trodden on. It would seem to me more like a collaboration than anything else. And, I know you will take fantastic pictures so I think it is important that you keep this one on your ToDo list. I look forward to seeing your pictures.


  2. Pingback: Johnson Street Bridge « burnt embers

    • Hi xinapray – thanks so much! Red buttons like that are just calling to be pushed. Maybe that’s why members of the public are not usually allowed in places like this.


    • Thank you Robin. More bridge pictures to follow. I will do same thing, all in one post with a gallery. More for the sake of posterity than the sake of art photography. Then, I am going to be trying out my new ND filter to see what I can do with it.


  3. Great photo’s..brings back some great memories of my last employment over here in the UK working in and around bridges before moving on 🙂


    • Hi maenamor – I am glad they were good memories.
      Bridges are really very interesting creations, not only architecturally but also because of their function and consequent place in society. The creation of a safe and convenient crossing over a river or gorge or other obstacle is quite a profound action which is often recognised with a spectacular design. The blue bridge is not spectacular, though it is a fine piece of early 20th century engineering. Even so, it has worked its way into local hearts in a manner that very few buildings have achieved.
      Which is another interesting aspect of this story – if this was a building with such high recognition and such an important part of the city’s ‘brand’, it would be protected with a heritage designation. It has no such protection – probably because it is considered a working bit of the road that will need to be replaced and perhaps also because it is owned by the City that is also responsible for making such heritage designations.


      • you are right, where I live it,s basically a dock system and every major road has a bridge just like that. All old, and still working as though they had just been installed. Built to last in the good ole days 😉


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