Agency VA 2964
Department of Roads and Bridges
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Date Range: 1858 - 1871
 
Description of this AgencyDescription of this Agency
Formation of Department of Roads and Bridges 1858

Under the provisions of the Board of Land and Works Act 1857 21 Vic., No.31 the Central Roads Board (VA 2803) was disbanded on 1 January 1858 and the Board of Land and Works (VA 744) took over responsibility for main road construction and bridges. Local authorities continued to be responsible for local roads and bridges (see VRG 12 Municipalities).

Operational responsibility for main roads and bridges was exercised by the newly formed Department of Roads and Bridges which operated as a sub-department of the Board of Land and Works.

Administrative Structure and Functions

Office Branch

This Branch was headed by a non-political Commissioner of Roads and Bridges who was a member of the Board of Land and Works and who had responsibility for the general management and control of the Department. The Commissioner would obtain information from district engineers and the public concerning the expediency of constructing particular roads or bridges and would prepare a scheme and estimates to be submitted to Cabinet.

Engineering Branch

This Branch was headed by the Inspector-General of Roads who was responsible for determining the character of works to be executed, and for the execution by contract of all such construction and maintenance works. This officer had control over district Road Engineers who in conjunction with surveyors from the Department of Crown Lands and Survey (VA 538) would prepare plans and designs, take levels and mark out lines of roads.

NOTE: The relationship between local government and the administration of roads and bridges needs to be clarified.

Role of Board of Lands and Works

The Board of Land and Works (VA 744), vested with statutory responsibility for roads and bridges, accepted the contracts, approved and authorized the business and expenditure of the Department, and decided matters of difficulty and all matters of policy. The Board also assumed responsibility for regulating the collection of tolls.

Ministerial Responsibility

Prior to the establishment of the Board of Land and Works (VA 744), the Commissioner of Public Works was the Minister responsible for roads and bridges functions. Upon establishment, the President of the Board of Land and Works assumed responsibility for all powers previously vested in both the Commissioner of Public Works (VRG 28) and the Surveyor General (or Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey - see VRG 18). It is apparent however that roads and bridges matters continued to be associated with Public Works functions until the Department of Roads and Bridges emerged in its own right in 1858 (see also VA 669). Between late 1858 and late 1861 the Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey appears to have been the Minister responsible for roads and bridges. In December 1861 a Commissioner of Railways and Roads was appointed assuming responsibility for roads and bridges functions.

Merging of Roads and Railways Administration 1871

Despite there being a single Minister responsible for both railways and roads from 1861 it is evident that the Department of Railways (VA 2877) and the Department of Roads and Bridges existed quite independently, with separate administration, until 1871. On 26 April 1871 John Steavenson, who was the Assistant Commissioner of Roads and Bridges, was also appointed to the position of Secretary to the Railways Department and thereafter the two departments appear to have been jointly administered as the Department of Railways and Roads (VA 2875).

Location of Records

See List of Holdings 2nd edition 1985, section 3.19.0.

 
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Date Range Series Title Series Number Series Location Public Access
? 1853 - ? 1871 Register Of Accounts VPRS 4662 North Melbourne Open
? 1853 - ? 1877 Outwards Letter Book, Roads Engineer, Wangaratta VPRS 1135 North Melbourne Open
? 1855 - ? 1898 Plans and Lithographs of Bridges VPRS 16124 North Melbourne Open
? 1857 - ? 1863 Index to Inward Registered Correspondence VPRS 1114 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - ? 1863 Register of District Roads Board Appropriations VPRS 1157 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - ? 1866 Toll Ledger VPRS 12646 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - ? 1888 Outwards Letter Book, Road Engineer, Melbourne VPRS 1138 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - 1871 Outward Unregistered Correspondence VPRS 1123 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - 1871 Register Of Bonds VPRS 4659 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - 1872 Register of Deposit Receipts VPRS 4660 North Melbourne Open
? 1858 - 1877 Returns of Work Executed, Road Engineer VPRS 4677 North Melbourne Open
? 1863 - 1871 Register Of Executive Council Orders Gazetted, Western District VPRS 4676 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1860 Cost Book VPRS 4675 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1861 Minute and Memoranda Books VPRS 1111 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1866 Register of Tolls, Punts and Ferries VPRS 1146 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1871 Outwards Letter Book, Roads Engineer, Castlemaine VPRS 1127 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1871 Outward Letter Book, Road Engineer Geelong VPRS 1128 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1871 Register of Tenders VPRS 1145 North Melbourne Open
1853 - ? 1871 Minute Book VPRS 4691 North Melbourne Open
1853 - 1858 Journal VPRS 1141 North Melbourne Open
Functions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibilityFunctions for which this Agency has or has had primary responsibility
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1858 - 1871 Roads and bridges VF 15
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1858 - 1871 Board of Land and Works VA 744
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1858 - 1861 Lands VRG 18
1861 - 1871 Railways VRG 32