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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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The 1920s – working lives

Introduction

Pillars and span on Sydney side.

Pillars and span on Sydney side. A general view of the Bridge
works in April, 1927, from the Timber Towers. The figures
on the pillar, and on the ground, give an idea of the relative
size of the work. Source: Parables of the Sydney
Harbour Bridge
by Frank Cash, 1930, p 387.


The building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge began in 1924. This was a time of rapid growth and change in Australian society. People wanted to put the dark, difficult days of World War I behind them and they looked with confidence to a brighter, prosperous future.

Government and industry began to build that future with major development in the manufacture of cars, electrical goods, and heavy machinery. Major building projects such as irrigation works, dams, roads and railways – and the Sydney Harbour Bridge – were also begun in this period. The government borrowed large sums of money, especially from Great Britain, to finance these works.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was a symbol of the upbeat mood of national confidence and energy captured in the phrase ‘men, money and markets’, coined by the then Prime Minister of the day, Stanley Melbourne Bruce.

‘men, money and markets’
men: a reference to the need for increased migration to populate Australia and provide workers for economic development
money: the funds needed to finance our development – mostly loans from overseas
markets: countries that would agree to buy our exports, especially wool and wheat in the 1920s

The government introduced migration schemes to attract workers, especially from Great Britain, and many new arrivals were employed on the building of the Harbour Bridge. During the boom times of the 1920s, the Bridge workers enjoyed job security and generally good relations with their employer, Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd., the British firm that was responsible for the construction of the Bridge.

Tenders closed for the Bridge at noon on 16th January, 1924. The photograph is the Bridge on the Sydney side, at noon on 16th January 1929, five years later.

Tenders closed for the Bridge at
noon on 16th January, 1924.
The photograph is the Bridge
on the Sydney side, at noon
on 16 January 1929, five
years later. It shows chiefly:
- the pylons
- the creeper
- the end frame and portal
- three sections of the
bottom chord of the main arch.
Source: Parables of the
Sydney Harbour Bridge

by Frank Cash, 1930, p 439.

Sydney side of the Bridge

Sydney side of the Bridge showing:
- the whole length of the footway
- the steel approaches of the five spans
- the granite pillars on the western
side at Dawes Point
- the full total of 128 cables entering
the mouth of the anchorage tunnel.
Source: Parables of the Sydney
Harbour Bridge
by Frank Cash, 1930, p 415.

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