An Unwanted Pier

Refused by Minister - Altona Residents' Request

Article reprinted from Werribee Shire Banner – Thursday 31 March 1932, page 3

altona-pierA pier that nobody owns and nobody wants to own is causing perturbation to residents of Altona and Werribee Shire council, who waited upon the Minister of Works (Mr. Kiernan) last week, and offered it to the Government. In polite, but exceedingly firm, language the Minister made it clear that the Government was not in the market for bridges of dubious ancestry and shaky health.

The history of the unwanted pier is quite a romance in itself. Cr. O’Brien and other speakers told the Minister that months of search was needed before the pier, which is located at Altona, was traced back to the Altona Beach Estate Co., which built it in 1888 in order to enable it to dispose of land bought for speculation. It was used at one time by the Altona brown coal mine also. On occasions there were dense crowds all along the 440 yards of the pier’s length, and as some piles were missing apprehension was felt for the safety of the public. When a seaplane that dived into the Bay had to be rescued, the pier was pronounced unfit to bear the weight of the parts. The Werribee council was unable to find funds to recondition the pier, and local residents were unanimous in the hope that it would be taken over by the Government, as it was really an asset to the district.

The Shire engineer (Mr. G.T. Little) said £10,000 had been spent within recent years on foreshore improvements and in linking up Altona road with adjacent metropolitan areas. The pier was totally unsafe, and should be closed. If £600 were spent on piles and decking it would be made fit for use for several more years.

“I realise what the pier means to the health and prosperity of the district, inasmuch as it is at times a magnet for large crowds of holiday makers,” said the Minister in reply, “but I should be failing in my duty as a Minister if I acceded to your request.” The Government, he continued, had no money for such works, even if it were prepared to accept them. This was not the sort of proposal he could recommend, but he would bring it under the notice of the unemployment relief committee, which might include it on the schedule of works for next year. He advised them, however, to shoulder part of the burden themselves.

Included among the speakers were representatives of the local foreshore committee, progress association, swimming club, A.N.A. branch and A.L.P. branch.

References:

1. Article from Werribee Shire Banner – Thursday 31 March 1932, page 3

2. Image from photograph collection Altona Laverton Historical Society