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who designed the sydney harbour bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
Building the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge spans the Harbour at its narrowest point between Dawes and Milsons Points. It is a double-hinged, riveted steel arch bridge with a reinforced concrete deck and reinforced concrete pylons and at the time of its completion in 1932 it was considered the epitome of modern bridge design and engineering ingenuity.
Early proposals to bridge the Harbour
Proposals to join the north and south sides of the Harbour with a bridge were first put forward in 1815 by convict architect Francis Greenway.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, Sydney was formed around Sydney Cove and later, as the population grew.
it developed around the Harbour and its tributaries to the north, west and south. European settlement on the northern side of the Harbour began in earnest after 1814.
following a land grant to ex-convict Billy Blue, who began the first ferry service across the Harbour soon after. Watermen continued to provide passage to the north shore until the 1840s.
when Sydney’s first vehicular ferry service was established between Dawes and Milsons Point.
Vehicular and passenger ferries continued to be an important form of public transport on Sydney Harbour for the remainder of the nineteenth century.
Although there had been a number of plans
to build a bridge across the Harbour throughout the nineteenth century, none were realised.
This was chiefly because it was costly and technically difficult to build bridges over large, tidal expanses of water such as Sydney Harbour.
As well, throughout the nineteenth century, timber had been the most prevalent material for bridge construction in New South Wales.
with durable masonry and cast iron bridges reserved for heavily traversed routes.
or for the railways, as they were expensive to build in terms of both skilled labour and cost of materials.
Prefabricated steel and concrete
The construction of a bridge across Sydney Harbour became a reality by the early twentieth century, with advances in bridge engineering technology internationally.
alongside developments in the local manufacture of prefabricated steel and reinforced concrete. The advantage of steel in particular.
apart from its cost effectiveness, was that it was durable and malleable enough to span wide tidal bodies of water.
The NSW Government began to seriously investigate
the possibility of building a bridge across the Harbour at the turn of the twentieth century.
In 1900, the New South Wales Government of the day lobbied for the proposed bridge to be built by a private company.
To this end, the Minister for Public Works called for a worldwide competition for its design and construction and set up an advisory board to review the tenders.
There were no winning entries for this competition, however, as the specifications for the bridge had to be rewritten.
The competition was reopened the following year with amended specifications.
A design by the Sydney-based engineer Norman Selfe was announced the winner.
In 1904 the project was stalled indefinitely when the government changed, leaving Selfe bitterly disappointed.
Bradfield and Dorman Long and Co
The completion of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was largely due to the efforts of one man.
the engineer Dr JJC Bradfield. Bradfield’s long involvement with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge began in 1903.
when he was appointed secretary to the advisory board set up to review the bridge tenders.
Bradfield was steadily promoted within the Department of Public Works and by 1912.
he had responsibility for the Sydney Harbour Bridge branch and for the electrification of the suburban railway.
Bradfield’s dual responsibilities within the department suggest .
that the Bridge and Sydney’s public transport system were to be integrally linked.
The construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Bridge took eight years to build, from 1925 to 1932, including the approaches and supporting roads. Over 2,000 people were employed to work on the bridge.
including engineers, boilermakers, ironworkers and stonemasons. Although the workers were overwhelmingly Australian.
the workforce had a multi-national character, with skilled labourers, such as stonemasons and ironworkers.
brought from overseas. Sixteen men died while working on the bridge, and accidents on the job were frequent, due to the hazardous nature of the work.
(For example, the job of the rivet cooker involved throwing red-hot rivets to the rivet catchers, who caught the rivets in buckets and then hammered them into place.)
Nevertheless, Bridge workers received relatively good wages and conditions.
and although the unions were vigilant, there was minimal industrial action in the eight years it took to complete the Bridge.
The opening ceremony, and the scandalous disruption
The NSW Premier of the day, Jack Lang, officially opened the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932. The opening ceremony was famously disrupted when Francis De Groot.