Bradfield's Bridge

introduction | competitions | government reports | building the bridge | opening celebrations | other work by Bradfield

Building the Bridge

New South Wales. Department of Public Works.
Contract for the construction of a cantilever bridge across Sydney Harbour from Dawes Point to Milson's Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Specification by the Department of Public Works, N.S.W.
Sydney: Government Printer, 1921.

J. J. C. Bradfield, principal design engineer for the New South Wales Public Works Dept., was largely responsible for finally bringing the Sydney Harbour Bridge to fruition. He had been involved with the project since the abortive competition of 1900 and had subsequently built various electric railway and tramway lines in and around Sydney, together with a major new traffic highway intended to serve the bridge, for which he produced three designs. In 1913, one of these, a cantilever structure with a horizontal lower chord, was recommended for construction, but WW1 intervened and it was only in 1921 that the present tender documents were issued. They give a complete specification of Bradfield's bridge, a continuous latticed-truss structure varying in depth from 82 metres over the supports to 30 metres at the centre span, and include some splendid illustrations of the scheme.

New South Wales. Department of Public Works.
Contract for the construction of a cantilever bridge or an arch bridge across Sydney Harbour from Dawes Point to Milson's Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Sydney: Government Printer, 1923.

In the intervening years since first producing his design, Bradfield visited Europe, Britain and America and had clearly come round to the idea of an arch bridge. He therefore insisted that the enabling act of 1922 be amended to include the possibility of an arch bridge and a second contract was issued. Although he himself produced a design for a 2-hinged arch bridge, it was Ralph Freeman's design for Dorman, Long which was finally built.

Contract 1923 Contract 1923 plan 24.jpg Contract 1923 plan 25.jpg

Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Middlesbrough: Dorman Long and Co., 1932.

A book detailing the tenders, design and construction of the Bridge by Dorman, Long and Company of Middlesborough, England, the company which won the tender for the bridge. This copy is inscribed by Lawrence Ennis, one of the directors of the company.

Dorman, Long tenders

The English Electric Company of Australia Limited
Tender for the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Sydney: Printed for the Company by Bloxham & Chambers Ltd., 1924.

A tender submitted by the English Electric Company of Australia Ltd., 177 Clarence Street, Sydney, for an elegant bridge combining suspension and cantilever principles designed by the New York firm Robinson & Steinman. As listed on the title page, the contents comprise 1. Covering letter. 2. Schedule of Drawings and Information. 3. Annex A. (Notes on the The English Electric Company of Australia Ltd.) and 4. Annex B. (Notes on Wire Cables).

EEC tender

Sydney Harbour Bridge: report on tenders.
Sydney: Government Printer, 1924.

The Report reviews all the proposals by the six firms that submitted tenders and illustrates the major contenders, giving us a glimpse of what Sydney Harbour might have looked like. Despite this open-minded approach there is little doubt that Bradfield had already designed the bridge that would be built - the first tender specifications issued were withdrawn and the revised specifications pretty well spelled out the bridge that Bradfield was prepared to build.

[Bradfield, J. J. C. (John Job Crew), 1867-1943.] The Sydney Harbour bridge and city railway: published on the occasion of the Exhibition organised by Farmer & Company, Limited, and held in the Exhibition Hall, April 3rd to 9th, 1923. Sydney: Farmer & Company, 1923.

Catalogue of an exhibition organised by the retail firm Farmer and Company. Many of the illustrations included use the Farmer building, Martin Place and the G.P.O. as a reference point to show the scale of the project.

Farmer's catalogue

Bradfield, J. J. C. (John Job Crew), 1867-1943.
The city and suburban electric railways and the Sydney harbour bridge.
Thesis, University of Sydney, 1924.

Bradfield drew up a full account of his Sydney Harbour Bridge and City Railway Scheme, submitting it as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Science in Engineering.

Davies, Harold N.
Design of 220 feet span arch bridge over bridge roadway.
Thesis (M.E.)--University of Sydney, 1930.

Harold Davies was one of Bradfield's assistants during the construction of the bridge and worked on many other significant Australian engineering projects.

Davies thesis

Davies, Harold N.
Design of 120 feet span arch bridge in the northern approach to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Sydney: Public Works Department, 1931.

Gift of Mrs B. M. Lush and Miss E. Lush.

Bradfield, J. J. C. (John Job Crew), 1867-1943.
Sydney Harbour Bridge, and City railway.
Willoughby, N.S.W.: Printed and published by H. Phillips, 193-?].



Bradfield, John Job Crew and Lush, W. H.
Sydney Harbour Bridge: railway and roadway approaches quantities and estimates.
Typescript (No date).

Gift of Mrs B. M. Lush and Miss E. Lush.

Bradfield, John Job Crew Sydney Harbour Bridge. Elevation plan. 1932.
Manuscript drawing. 697 x 77 cm.

Bradfield, John Job Crew
Sydney Harbour Bridge. Elevation plan. Pylons.
Manuscript Drawing. 280.5 x 76 cm.

Journal and Abstract of Proceedings of the Sydney University Engineering Society.
Sydney: The Society, 1900-1920.

This publication of the University contains numerous articles on Sydney Engineering projects, both for major now completed works which we take for granted and also for things that did not happen, or did not happen in the form presented here. Among the most notable inclusions are Bradfield's proposals for the Sydney Harbour Bridge which are found in volume 17.

Minutes of Proceedings of The Institution of Civil Engineers, Vol. 238 - Session 1933-1934, Pt. 2.
London: 1935.

The four papers of interest to be found here are: (1) Sydney Harbour Bridge: Design of the Structure and Foundations, by R. Freeman; (2) Sydney Harbour Bridge: Manufacture of the Structural Steelwork and Erection of the Bridge, by R. Freeman and L. Ennis; (3) Sydney Harbour Bridge: Calculations for the Steel Superstructure, by J. F. Pain and G. Roberts; (4) The Sydney Harbour Bridge and Approaches, by J. J. C. Bradfield. There are 21 photographic illustrations depicting various stages in the construction of the bridge.

Cash, Frank.
Parables of the Sydney Harbour Bridge: setting forth the preparation for and progressive growth of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to April, 1930.
Sydney: [F. Cash], 1930 (Sydney: S.D. Townsend & Co.)

Frank Cash was the Rector of Christ Church at Lavender Bay during the period of the construction of the Bridge. His Parables, which was published in 1930, contains much useful and unusual information illustrated with numerous photographs. The copy is signed by the author.

Cazneaux, Harold
The Bridge book.
Sydney: Art in Australia, 1930-31.

Harold Pierce Cazneaux was born on the 30th of March 1878 in Wellington, New Zealand. In the 1890's, the family moved to Adelaide and later Cazneaux moved to Sydney in 1904. Here he worked as a photographer in Freeman & Company's studio. Cazneaux, who has been described as 'the father of modern Australian photography', produced an extraordinary diversity of work ranging from portraits of well known Australian figures, to landscapes, scenery, architecture and contributions to books and magazines.

Cazneuax photograph of bridge

Curtis, R.E.
Building the bridge. Fourteen lithographs celebrating the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Revised edition.
Sydney & London: (1982).

This is a reproduction of the original edition of 1933, with an additional black and white lithograph in lieu of the original colour supplement.

Curtis lithograph

Sydney Harbour Bridge: ceremony of setting the foundation stone of the southern abutment tower, Dawes Point, 25th March 1925. Souvenir.
Sydney: Government Printer, 1925.

The gift of K. N. E. Bradfield. The toast list for the ceremony has been pasted inside the back covers.


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