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On 19 March 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened to the public. This landmark bridge is almost the poster child that is synonymous with Australia and is no doubt one of the most instantly recognizable bridges in the world.

The brainchild of John Bradfield, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is tribute to the man who brought us the concept of the much touted " Bradfield Scheme " and also the Storey Bridge in Brisbane and Sydney's rail system. He oversaw the rebuilding of the bridge over the Hawkesbury River and the construction of dams such as the Cataract and Burrinjuck dams. In 1917 he wrote a paper predicting Sydney’s population would nearly triple by 1950 to more than 2.2 million. This was used in Bradfield’s day as an argument for suburban electrified trains as a way to open up new land for development. source

The New South Wales government announced this week that Sydney’s ‘third city’ will be named Bradfield.

Bradfield originally proposed a cantilever bridge, but later adopted an arch design. He drew inspiration from Hell Gate Bridge, a 310-metre arch in New York City. Today, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, fondly referred to locally as " The Coathanger "  is the largest steel arch bridge in the world ( not, I hasten to add, the longest - that is an honour reserved for the New River Gorge Bridge in America ) and is 1149 metres and its arch span is 503 metres. The top of the arch is 134 metres above sea level and the clearance for shipping under the deck is a spacious 49 metres. The total steelwork weighs 52,800 tonnes, including 39,000 tonnes in the arch. The 49 metre wide deck makes Sydney Harbour Bridge the widest Longspan Bridge in the world. source

In 1916, a bill to support construction of the bridge passed the NSW lower but not upper house, due to scarce funding in wartime. The Sydney Harbour Bridge Act passed in 1922, with construction running from 1925 to 1932. 

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The event marked the end of almost a century of speculation and planning around a bridge or tunnel that would cross the harbour.

In 1922 the New South Wales Parliament passed the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act and preparation for the building got underway.

Construction began on the approaches to the span in 1923 and on the bridge itself in 1925. More than 1600 people worked on the bridge during its construction.

In 2017 more than 200 trains, 160,000 vehicles and 1900 bikes used the bridge every day.

However, in keeping with our theme of Military Memories Month, it is worthy of note to be reminded of the role this dear old Lady played in the protection of Australia during WW2.

According to the NSW Government website

In May 1935 the Australian Government asked each State to begin making plans to protect their citizens against chemical weapons, such as poison gas bombs, carried by aircraft flying from a ship offshore.  This was seen as a remote possibility but one with potentially disastrous results.  The Federal Government defined the most vulnerable area in NSW as Newcastle, Sydney, Wollongong and inland to Lithgow.  This area housed significant industries (including the manufacture of munitions), resources, infrastructure and population.  Explosive and incendiary bombs were later added as potential threats and the State’s entire coast inland for 100 miles (161 kms) was defined as being at risk.  On 1 February 1939 the plans were put into place when National Emergency Services NSW began operations.

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Private property and parklands were taken over by the Commonwealth for the duration of the war for a variety of war-related uses. In 1938 the pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge had been inspected to find the best sites for fixing machine guns. From 13-15 November 1939 the No. 5 Section, 1st Anti-Aircraft Battery (Lewis Gun Section) held training exercises in all four pylons. The pylons were also used for troop accomodation.

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The gun platforms were added to the tops of Sydney Harbour Bridge pylons in 1942.

Sydney Harbour was well protected , yet on 29 May 1942 five large Japanese I Class submarines rendezvoused some 35 nautical miles northeast of the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Before daylight the next morning an E14Y Glen float plane launched from one of the submarines, I-21, flew a daring reconnaissance mission over the harbour, twice circling the cruiser USS Chicago before flying off to the east.

The aerial intrusion was observed and reported but it did not initiate any special harbour defensive measures being implemented. Many mistakenly believed it an American floatplane conducting a routine training flight. For the Japanese raiders, it was the latest of a number of reconnaissance flights conducted over Sydney providing valuable intelligence for an impending surprise attack on the numerous Allied warships anchored peacefully in the harbour. Prime targets included the cruisers HMAS Canberra and USS Chicago. It is well worth reading the full article here about this attack. 

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As it turned out, the Japanese were thwarted by the preparations that were made by our Federal Government when they laid down the submarine nets and set up the defence of Sydney Harbour and also the miscalculations made by the invading Japanese forces in relation to using the wrong shells.  No matter what, The attack by the Japanese midget submarine crews was a serious wake-up call to Sydney residents who had thought the war was happening somewhere else and did not really happen here, down under in far distant Australia.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge still stands today as a monument to John Bradfield and his exceptional vision for a plan to future proof Sydney and create an infrastructure that would see the city grow into a vibrant city capable of growing and meeting the needs of the People of the future who would call Sydney " home. " 

Sadly, the dams are no longer being built. The electricity grid has been handed over to the greenies and the protection and defence of Australia has fallen to a military force that has more in common with a transgender and leftie luvvie woke fest and has more in common with a library fairytale told by a drag queen than a competent government that values our populace more than it does the 1% of fools who have forgotten what war is like.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was built in an era when people had vision and imagination and dared to think " big. " It was a vision that gave us the opportunity to plan ahead and dare to say " why not? " 

It was before our lives were closed down by bureaucrats and activists and we encouraged the likes of John Bradfield to take to the drawing board and build bridges to solve problems, not create them.

 

 https://thestrategicweek.com/2018/08/09/bradfield-75-years-on-part-2-the-only-woman-present-kathleen-butler-and-the-bridge/

https://www.navy.gov.au/history/feature-histories/japanese-midget-submarine-attack-sydney-harbour

https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/john-bradfield-5390.php

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/E84294

http://visitsydneyaustralia.com.au/japanese-bombing.html

https://www.ozatwar.com/bunkers/shbprotection.htm

https://createdigital.org.au/how-john-bradfield-shaped-sydney/

https://www.nma.gov.au/defining-moments/resources/sydney-harbour-bridge-opens

https://gallery.records.nsw.gov.au/index.php/galleries/war-and-australia/war-and-australia-world-war-ii/war-and-australia-world-war-ii-1942-new-south-wales-prepares-for-war/

 

 

 

 

 

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