Farewell to an iconic Murray Bridge building

The Bridgeport Hotel in 1968. Photo: Supplied to CED Building Design.
The Bridgeport Hotel in 1968. Photo: Supplied to CED Building Design.

“What a diff'rence a day makes,” crooned Dinah Washington in her 1959 single.

“Twenty-four little hours brought the sun and the flowers where there used to be rain.”

It has taken somewhat longer than 24 hours for EDP Hotels to revise its proposal to redevelop the Bridgeport Hotel in response to criticism from planning authorities and the public.

But what a difference the changes have made.

In 2016, when we first revealed concept images and the full scope of what was being planned, the response was not flattering.

Letter-writers and social media commenters lamented the fact the original hotel would be lost, and described its replacement as a brown box that looked cheap and outdated.

This time around, with a few tweaks and colour changes, there have been far fewer murmurs of discontent.

Still, we're talking about the destruction of a building that has stood in Murray Bridge for 134 years, beneath whose roof the city's early councils, sporting associations and congregations met.

That's not something that can be taken back.

Fifteen months ago, I wrote that the decision would boil down to this: if the original stone walls remained behind the cream bricks, they should stay; if not, most people would likely accept that it was last call for the old pub.

As it has turned out, the photos from Craig Eyles' site inspection – attached to Monday’s story – have proven to be the smoking gun, evidence that there is not much left to save.

From the outside, one can see that the building's corner has been sliced off and several large windows have been cut in, damaging the original aesthetic.

After reading much of the 393-page report about the proposal, this columnist accepts that the Bridgeport's bones are in a similarly poor state.

Think of the Adelaide Oval: once the copper-coloured roof of the old members' stand went, the venue's heritage look was forever changed.

From there, it was only worth pressing ahead; now Adelaide has one of the nation's great sporting venues.

It is a travesty that one of Murray Bridge's most historic buildings, perhaps second only to the Round House, will be lost to the sands of time.

But the travesty will have been its alteration in the 1960s, not its demolition today.

So congratulations to the proponents, and bring on progress.

Peri Strathearn

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