Bridge Road was created as a road reserve in Robert Hoddle's Crown Allotment survey of 1837. It was originally known as Richmond Road and Richmond Bridge Road.
The first bridge connection with Hawthorn was made in 1855. The eastern end of the road was known as Campbell Parade after it was widened in the 1870s.
Retail and trade services
By 1855 there were a number of buildings, most probably shops, on small allotments along the south side of the road between Punt Road and Church Street. The 1856-57 electoral roll indicates an established retail and service trade in Bridge Road, including butchers, drapers, a shoemaker, fruiterers, tailors, hairdressers, grocers and hoteliers.
Several hotels were operating by 1858, including today's Vine (No. 254) and the Spreadeagle (No. 362). Typical of hotels in Yarra, these have been extended or rebuilt, mostly in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Commercial House, on the southwest corner of Bridge Road and Church Street opened in 1854 as a provision store, while on the north-west corner Egan's steam sawmill was operating by 1859.
By the 1870s Bridge Road still had a village-like scale, although the west end was more densely developed than the east, an appearance reinforced to a degree by the comparatively narrower street width.
The north side between Normanby Place and Hoddle Street, part of Highett's land, was not subdivided until 1880.
Bridge Road shops
The majority of the existing 19th century buildings in Bridge Road are shops which date from the 1870s and 1880s. The horse drawn omnibuses which brought shoppers to the area were replaced by cable trams in 1885, which in turn were replaced by an electrified tram service in 1916. Shortly afterwards Cinema Richmond opened in 1919 adjacent to the Town Hall.
As you walk along the western end of Bridge Road you will notice a series of bronze plaques on buildings which provide information on some of the previous uses of sites. It is interesting to see some of the uses including blacksmiths, hay and corn stores, hotels, factories and surgeries.