Construction of the bridge


Usually, the worlds biggest and most remarkable cities are remembered with either a historical monument or a glamorous contemporary building. For example while Paris is often associated with the Eifel Tower, Dubai is famous for Burj Al Arab. The Sydney Harbour Bridge constitutes one of the most significant symbols of Australia. On March the 19th 1932 Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened after six years of being built[1]. The Guinness book of records lists this building as the widest in the world. Dr JJC Bradfield prepared the general design and hence was considered the Father of the Bridge. The Bridge is 503 meters long and weighs 39000 tons[2]. Approximately 200 people were employed to work on the bridge, ranging from engineers to ironworkers. The Bridge connects the Sidneys CBD with the North shore of the Harbour. 750000 people watched as this unique bridge opened[3]. The total cost of making the bridge reached $13.5 Million and was paid for by 1988[4]. This bridge has since been one of the most visited tourist sites.


Prior to the construction of this bridge, there had been many failed proposals to build a bridge across the harbour. This had been due to the monetary and technical difficulties at the time.

The successful proposals for constructing a bridge that would join the North and South sides of the harbour were first proposed back in 1815 by convict architect Francis Greenway. With the growth of the city of Sidney, at the first half of the nineteenth century Sydney was shaped around Sydney Cove and later, as the population also started to grow it started to be developed around the harbour and its tributaries to the north, south and west.

However, European settlement on the northern side had already begun in 1814 following a land grant to ex-convict Billy Blue, who began the first ferry service across the harbour. In addition, in the 1840s, Sydneys first vehicular ferry service was established between Dawes and Milsons Point[5].


As mentioned above, Dr John Job Crew Bradfield is known as the Father of the Bridge as he was the man behind the designing of the bridge. In addition it was his vision, enthusiasm, engineering expertise and detailed supervision of all aspects of its construction that resulted in the dream of the Sidney Harbour Bridge to reality. He arranged the general design and the New South Wales government awarded the construction contract to the English firm Dorman Long and Co, for the odd sum of 4,217,721, 11 shillings and 10 pence on 24 March 1924. However, up to 800 tenant families were relocated to make way for the approach spans of the bridge. The core design divides into the following parts[6];

3.1 Pylons:

Thomas S Tait (A Scottish architect) had designed a standing pair of 89m high at each terminus of the bridge. They material was concrete and faced with granite where the granite was quarried at Moruya, New South Wales 250km south of Sydney. In addition, there are contained abutments at the base of the pylons to support the two terminuses of the bridge, and to prevent the bridge from stretching or contraction under the influence temperature variations. Smiles, Sam (1998).Going modern and being British: 1910-1960. Intellect Books. p.41

3.2 Arch:

The arch is made up of two 28-panel arch trusses and their heights vary from 18m at the centre of the arch up to 58m beside the pylons. The length of the steel arch span and weight are 503m and 39,000 tons respectively. There are also two dedicated large metal hinges at the base of the bridge in order to restrict occurring any big expansions and contractions. However, there are still flaws. For example the bridge is not completely stationary it can rise and fall to around 18cm depending upon the weather temperature. In addition, most of the steel needed was brought from Middlesbrough, in the North East of England, and the rest was locally made in Australia[7].

3.3 Deck:

The deck of the Bridge is 1.16km, long and 48.8m wide.


The construction of the bridge started in 1924 and took eight years to build. 53000 tonnes of steel were used. Currently it carries eight traffic lanes and two rail lines.(








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