Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Westgate Bridge Disaster






Don Henderson






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Come gather round me people.
Come and hear my every word.
I'll sing a song of sorrow
and pray I may be heard.
I'll sing a song of sorrow,
a story sad to tell,
of men who died on the Westgate Bridge,
when a steel span broke and fell.

Oh, there was need for hurrying,
for work was well behind,
but Milford Haven's memory
was vivid in our minds.
Some sections had been strengthened;
which, in part, our fears allayed,
and we were told the Westgate Bridge
was the safest ever made.

The first span on the western bank
was assembled on the ground.
Assembled in two lengthwise halves,
this method was thought sound.
Assembled in two lengthwise halves,
beside the river wide,
And raised on high by mighty jacks,
to be laid up side by side.

To the eleventh pylon,
extended from the tenth,
the two halves laid up side by side,
to be joined along their length;
and this was the work in progress,
upon that fateful day,
when a steel span broke in the Westgate Bridge
and the pylon fell away.

Oh all three hundred and seventy five
long feet from end to end,
sixteen hundred tons of steel
began to shake and bend.
On the fifteenth of October,
it was just before midday,
when a steel span broke in the Westgate Bridge
and the pylon fell away.

From far across the river,
so terrible to hear,
and in our eyes for ever more
that vision will be seared.
The seconds passed like hours
as our tiny ferry sped and,
in that long and helpless age,
many silent prayers were said.

The scene that then confronted us
was tangled death on fire;
that stripped away all fear of harm
and strength was else inspired.
For while hope flew high in our hearts,
our minds were sick with dread.
Beneath that wreck of twisted steel,
thirty five good men lay dead.

Dear God, in Your great mercy.
He who sees each sparrow fall;
look down upon our sorrow,
give guidance to us all.
Look kindly on our comrades,
who died here on this day,
when a steel span broke in the Westgate Bridge
and the pylon fell away.


On 15 October, 1970, 35 men died when a section of Melbourne's Westgate Bridge collapsed while under construction.

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