There was a report in the Dandenong Journal of April 26, 1944 from the Shire of Berwick Engineer, Mr H.L. Keys, on the Eleven Mile bridge at Cora Lynn. He said This is a three span timber bridge over the Main Drain on the 11 mile road. The central span is 40 feet with two approach spans of 30 feet each. Forty feet span in a timber bridge of this class is altogether too large and it is remarkable that it has stood up to heavy traffic for so long. The whole bridge is now in an advanced state of decay and it is difficult to see how any repairs of a permanent nature can be effected. However, as it may be some time before the construction of a new bridge can be considered I would suggest that about 40 pounds be spent in renewing some of the decking and running deck and that notices restricting the carrying capacity of the bridge to 2 tons be posted'
Dandenong Journal April 26, 1944
Mr Keys was correct in saying that it may be some time before a new bridge could be built as it wasn't until the War was over that money and man power could be found for a new bridge. The Dandenong Journal reported on July 23, 1947 that a tender for just over £1,055 was accepted by the Shire of Berwick to build a replacement bridge over the Main Drain at the Eleven Mile Road. The tender was from the Sippo Brothers.
The Sippo Brothers were recognized bridge builders and had been used and would be used by the Shire on many previous and future occasions. For instance, in March 1942, they were working on the bridge at Cora Lynn which was completed by July 1943; they then moved onto the construction of a timber culvert on the corner of the Nine Mile and the Eleven Mile Roads at Tynong; also in 1943 they constructed culverts and approaches on the Nar Nar Goon-Longwarry Road. In December 1947 they won a tender to recondition three bridges in the Shire of Berwick on Narre Warren-Cranbourne Road, Leckie Road and Foy’s Road.
However, back to the Eleven Mile Bridge. In August 1947 the Country Roads Board (the CRB) approved the tender for the construction of the bridge which was to be a three span timber and rolled steel joist (RSJ) bridge. The CRB would reimburse the Council 5/6th of the cost. By December 1947, the Dandenong Journal reported that the piles had been driven and the concrete sheeting cast. RSJs will be delivered as soon as available. It is suggested that the filling of the approaches be carried out by direct labour. [It was] anticipated that the new front end loader would be available for this work early in the New Year.
My father, Frank Rouse, remembers the way the piles were driven in - the wooden pile had a steel frame next to it which was stabilised by cables attached to the drain banks. The top of the steel frame, which was higher than the piles, had a pulley through which a cable with a one ton weight attached was positioned over the top of the pile. The cable was attached to the back of a Dodge truck - the truck would move forward to raise the weight, then the cable was released and the weight would drop onto the top of the pile which forced it in and then the process was repeated and then the steel frame was moved to the location of the next pile.
Later in December 1947 it was reported that the crossheads have been fixed and the contract is now held up pending receipt of rolled steel joints. In the New Year they were waiting for the delivery of decking and essential iron work.
By the end of April 1948, the bridge was nearly finished, but they needed to acquire land on the south side of the bridge for a road deviation. The land was being acquired from McMillans. It appears that the agreement to transfer the land happened in June 1948 and the compensation required (apart for the land payment presumably) was new fencing and an iron grate. In the August of that year the Dandenong Journal reported that the approaches to bridge over 11-mile will be commenced at an early date, weather permitting, which perhaps indicates the work was nearing the end.
Who were the Sippo Brothers? According to the book ‘Call of the Bunyip’ by Denise Nest, Simon Sippo, who was born in Finland, and his wife Ollie (nee Warren) arrived on the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp in September 1893, the first three of their children were born in Footscray and the remaining six in Bunyip South. Simon was a bridge builder and in 1911 was building a bridge at Yallock and won contracts to build bridges in Heatherton Road and Corrigan Road for the Shire of Dandenong.
His sons obviously continued in the same occupation and it was William Leslie Sippo and, I believe, Alfred Liddle Sippo who were the ‘Sippo Bros’. There is a report in the Dandenong Journal of June 24, 1942 saying that Alfred Sippo would be released from military duties to enable him to complete the Cora Lynn bridge.
The Eleven Mile bridge had been repaired over the years with strengthening and a new deck or two but was demolished in November 2015 and the new bridge completed the next month. The cost of the new bridge was $700,000, half funded by the Council and half by the Federal Department of Infrastructure and Development.
The wooden Eleven Mile bridge, taken October 24, 2015.