Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Australia 1932 - Opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge

The building of a steel "through arch" bridge that spanned Sydney Harbour was a colossal undertaking. It was designed and built by the British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd of Middlesbrough under the direction of Dr J.J.C. Bradfield of the NSW Department of Public Works. The bridge's design was influenced by the Hell Gate Bridge in New York. The Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932. At the time, it was the world’s widest long-span bridge at 48.8 metres (160 feet). 

The southern bridge end – the CBD end - is located at Millers Point in an area known as The Rocks. The northern end touches down at Milsons Point in an area known as the North Shore. The bridge carries six lanes of road traffic on its main roadway. Additionally, on its eastern side are two lanes of road traffic, which were formerly two tram tracks. It has a footpath, and on its western side are two railway tracks and a bicycle path. The main roadway across the bridge is known as the Bradfield Highway, named after the man who oversaw construction of the bridge. The highway is approximately 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) long, making it one of the shortest highways in Australia.

An official ceremony on 28 July 1923 marked the "turning of the first sod". It was held on the spot at Milsons Point on the north shore where two workshops to assist in building the bridge were later constructed.

Arch construction itself began on 26 October 1928, and in less than two years, on Tuesday, 19 August 1930, the two halves of the arch touched for the first time. Workers riveted both top and bottom sections of the arch together, and the arch became self-supporting, allowing the support cables to be removed. On 20 August 1930 the joining of the arches was celebrated by flying the flags of Australia and the United Kingdom.

Arch Construction

The deck for the roadway and railway were then constructed. The deck was completed in June 1931. On 19 January 1932, the first test train, a steam locomotive, safely crossed the bridge.

The bridge was formally opened on Saturday, 19 March 1932. The Labor Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, was to open the bridge by cutting a ribbon at its southern end. However, just as Lang was about to cut the ribbon, a man in military uniform rode in on a horse, slashing the ribbon with his sword and opening the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the name of the people of New South Wales before the official ceremony began. This notorious man was Francis de Groot. For his dastardly deed, he was convicted of offensive behaviour and fined £5 after a psychiatric test proved he was sane.

The infamous Francis de Groot
The task of designing stamps to commemorate such an epic moment in history was placed upon the shoulders of the Note Printing Branch. At this time, the bridge was only partly constructed, so it was necessary to study drawings of the proposed design of the bridge. The stamp designers also took an avid interest in the progress of the bridge's construction. The set of commemorative stamps were released on 14 March 1932.

As is always the case many different designs were considered. The chosen design depicts the bridge in a foreshortened perspective and incorporates the landing sheds, the roadway, and a ferry in the foreground. To add a sense of proportion, the overseas liner RMS Orford was added to the design. It can be seen sailing under the bridge. It is a stunning stamp, designed by R.A. Harrison and engraved by F.D. Manley - a man who by this time had cemented his name in Australian stamp engraving history.

1932 Opening of Sydney Harbour Bridge

Because of the sheer volume of 2d stamps required, it was decided produce the bulk of them by the letterpress method on watermarked paper. The rest of the 2d, the 3d and 5/- stamps were all recess printed. Because the 2d stamps were printed using two different methods there are two different sizes to collect.

Until next time...

Stay Engraver Crazy!

No comments:

Post a Comment