80 years on, descendants of Bradfield reignite hope of yesteryear

19 August 1930 Sydney Harbour Bridge Arch first joined

The late Dr J.J.C. Bradfield’s descendants have today scaled the Sydney Harbour Bridge to commemorate the union of the iconic arches of the Bridge that occurred 80 years ago.

It was at exactly 10pm on 19 August 1930 that the arches of the Sydney Harbour Bridge were permanently
joined, directly connecting Sydney’s population of the South and the North for the first time.

Jim and Michael Bradfield, grandson and great grandson of civil engineer Dr J.J.C. Bradfield, acknowledged
their ancestor who for over 30 years was the most active and influential person in promoting and overseeing
the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Dr J.J.C. Bradfield’s influence was such that on the opening of the Bridge in 1932, the then Governor Sir
Philip Game acknowledged the role he played in the realisation of the iconic structure and named the road
linking the north and south ‘The Bradfield Highway’.

To pay tribute, Jim and Michael visited the summit of the lower chord on the Bridge, the very spot where 80
years ago the two arches came together as Dr J.J.C Bradfield observed nearby.

Jim Bradfield spoke of his grandfather with much pride and said “J.J.C. was both a genius and a visionary
and he used these skills together to father such great structures as the Sydney Harbour Bridge”.

“As a descendant of J.J.C. it’s thrilling to be on the spot where the arches met 80 years ago and feel the
excitement and spirit that must have existed in Sydney on that day.”

Bradfield’s vision of Sydney captured the imaginations of many, including J. T. Lang, the NSW Premier at
the time who later wrote “He was probably the first man to plan for Sydney as a city of two million people”.
The moment the arches joined on the Bridge has always been considered a significant event as it instilled
confidence and breathed hope to all Sydney-siders during troubled economic and social times.

This hope was also manifested through the Bridge’s meticulously engineered stature, infrastructure well
beyond its years and construction that recruited over 2500 people who would have otherwise been jobless
during the Great Depression.

The 80th anniversary of the historic moment when the arches finally joined is a timely reminder of what this
icon, suitably labeled the ‘iron lung’ of Sydney, represented to a city, a state and a nation during the Great

The words of The Governor of NSW, Marie Bashir, AC CVO, at the 75th anniversary of the Bridge’s
opening, certainly ring true, “a structure of its time has become a structure for all times”.