Film ID:
NEFA 13840



Visitor Tabs


This film sponsored by Dorman Long looks at the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in Australia,  designed and built by British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd of Middlesbrough and the opening ceremony on 19 March 1932. 

Title: The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the largest Arch Bridge in the World. Maximum height of crown 437 feet 6 inches.

Title: The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the largest Arch Bridge in the World. Headway for shipping 172 feet 6 inches.

Title: The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the largest Arch Bridge in the World. Width of Deck 159 feet 6 inches.

Title: The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the largest Arch Bridge in the World. Steel in Main Span 38000 tons.

Title: The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the largest Arch Bridge in the World. Steel in Approach Span 12000 tons.

Title: Contractors

Title: Messrs. Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd, London

Title: Director of Construction  Mr L. Ennis

Title: Chief Engineer for NSW Govt Railways  Dr J J C Bradfield

Title: Contractor's Consulting Engineer Mt R Freeman

Title: Mr C Hipwell  Erection Superintendent

Title: Before the Great Span Took Shape

The film shows a view of the approach road deck from below, with scaffolding and support work holding the deck during construction.

Title: Dwarfing it's surroundings the colossus rears itself.

A view from below shows the two half arches from either bank are about to meet.

From a boat below, a view of the two half arches, where two cranes are mounted at opposite sides of the gap at the crown of the bridge. From another point in the harbour area, the bridge is shown in a side view. A closer shot is taken of the bridge on both banks. A boat passes beneath the bridge.

Title: Ascending to deck level by lift.

A very basic lift car rises to deck level with workmen aboard. A view from the lift shows the construction of the bridge so far.

Title: A Maze of Steel

Closer views of the steel structures involved in providing strength for the bridge.

Title: 120ft to Close the Gap

General view of the gap at the crown, which needs to be completed to form the arch.

Title: Bolting up the Chord

Men tighten the bolts on a horizontal steel member

Title: Safety First - Note Rubber Shoes on Workers

Two workers continue to tighten bolts with large spanners. Close-up of the footwear they are wearing.

Title: After Bolting, Riveters Complete the Job.

Hot rivets are put in place by riveters using a pneumatic riveting hammer.

Title: Heater Boys are kept busy cooking white-hot rivets

Views show the small portable furnace used to heat up rivets. This one is being used at the top of the bridge.

Title: A Rivet Finds It's Permanent Home

A riveter demonstrates his skill with a pneumatic hammer.

Title: The Work Goes On - Five Million Rivets are being used to stitch up this mighty structure.

Riveters are at work on other parts of the structure.

Title: Making little of Dangerous Work

Title: Over the side men juggle with fate.

A man descends a ladder which is strapped to the side of the bridge structure. No safety net or any other safety measure is deployed.

Title: Foreman boiler-maker supervises the work.

A worker emerges from a hole in one of the steel box sections of the bridge's structure. Bolts are secured on the side of the bridge.

Title: Ladders Not Necessary

More bolts are secured, using the full weight of one of the workers as he stands on the long length of the spanner to ensure the nut is tight on the bolt.

Silhouetted against the sky, men climb, without obvious safety equipment, part of the bridge's structure. Below a boat passes under the bridge. Other men work on precarious temporary platforms on other parts of the structure.

Title: Shifting Stages

One of these platforms or stages, used to aid work in awkward areas, is moved to another location.

Title: The Ill-Fated Tahiti Passing Under For The Last Time

A ship passes beneath the bridge. [On 3 November 1927 the harbour ferry Greycliffe and the Union Steamship Company mail steamer Tahiti collided. The smaller ferry was cut in two and sank with the loss of 40 lives, the deadliest incident on Sydney Harbour.]

Title: Spello Off To A Well Earned Lunch

Title: Standing Room Only - And 450 Feet Drop To The Bottom

Men climb into a square cage suspended from a crane. The cage is swung out to another location on the bridge and picks up more men.

Title: Late Comers Have To Walk - Hence The Hurry

Workers walk down one of the arched spans.

Title: Thro' The Maze They Drop

The men in the cage are lowered down through the maze of steel work.

Title: Still A Long Way To Go

General views of the surrounding area near the bridge. The men in the cage finally reach solid ground. Some of the men get into small boats

Title: The 550 Ton Creeper Crane. Lifting Capacity 122 Tons.

General views follow of the crane.

Title: Derricking Screws

Views of large cogs and screws in operation

Title: Cross Travelling

The crane 'creeps' across a gantry with a view from a platform on the crane.

Title: Main Hoist Drums

General view of large gear assembly on the crane.

Title: The Driver At The Controls - Note Telephone Communication

The operator speaks into a chest-mounted microphone. A general view shows one of the huge 'block and tackle' hoists of the crane.

Title: Erection Of Last Diagonal Member On South Side

A general view shows a crane operator at work, and the cross-member being hoisted into position

Title: Slowly Does It

The crane positions the cross member slowly and carefully. Men at one end of the member prepare to secure it.

Title: Messrs. Bradfield, Cleary And Brain, Railway Commissioners Visit The Top.

Four men walk along the top of one of the arches of the bridge. They are they hoisted off in a cage, similar to the workmen seen earlier in the film.

Title:  The First Crossing Of Sydney Harbour Bridge By Mr Ennis

A beam is hoisted into position. When the beam is in place two men shake hands as they meet each other on the secured beam. Mr Ennis continues along the beam to meet other workers.

Title: Mr Ennis Congratulates The Erection Superintendent

Three men pose for the camera. General views of steelwork follow.

Title: Allowing The Two Half Arches To Come Together On Centre Pin

A view of the closing gap in the steelwork.

Title: Attaching Hydraulic Jacks To End Of Cables.

Men use block and pulley techniques to hoist jacks into position.

Title: Pump Supplying Hydraulic Pressure At Over 4 Tons Per Square Inch.

A general view shows the pump, pressure gauge and one of the jacks in action.

Title: Coming Together At The Rate Of 2 Inches Per Day

A view follows showing the gap at the top of the arch.

Title: Mr Ennis Arriving To Inspect Progress

Mr Ennis arrives by cage and crane.

Title: Not Far To Go

The gap continues to close.

Title: Closed! The Harbour Spanned At Last 19th August 1930.

Mr Ennis stands at the point of closure.

Title: Messrs. Ennis And Freeman Contemplating A Successful Achievement

The two men pose for the camera. An Australian flag and a Union Jack.

Title: The Niew Holland Has The Honour Of Being The First Out Bound Ship To Pass Under The Closed Arch.

A view of a ship passing under the bridge follows.

Title: One Of The Four Main Bearings Each Taking A Thrust Of 21,000 Tons.

Two men stand at the foot of one of the large bearings at the base of an arch. General views show the span of the arch and the two cranes at the top of the arch.

Title: The Erection Of The Last Centre Post

The post is hoisted into position. A close up shows the large blocks used to carry cables and hoists. Workmen position the post and start to secure it with bolts.

Title: Member in Position

Views of the tall structure in position

Title: Bridging The Gap On The Top Chord

A beam is hoisted into position.

Title: The 60 Ton Chord The Last Section Of Top Being Erected Into Position.

Men work on the chord to secure it.

Title: Lateral Diagonal Being Erected

Another large piece of the structure Is hoisted into position.

Title: Pulling And Pinning Up Member To Chord

Men pull on ropes to move the structure into position and is then secured with rivets.

Title: Finishing The Arch

Title: Pin Bearings Being Lowered Into Position.

Workmen lower the item into position.

Title; Messrs. Ennis And Bradfield Supervising Top Chord Activities

Two men in an open top cage are hoisted up by crane.

Title: Eight 1,000 Ton Hydraulic Jacks Going Into Position

The jacks are moved into position, hoisted by crane and then man-handled. Precision is needed for such a heavy piece of equipment. Even so men use levers and brute strength to move the jacks.

Title: Expanding The Jacks By Hydraulic Pressure Forcing Chords Apart

The chords are forced apart to make space for steel packing.

Title: 28000 Tons Of Steel Slowly Separates Allowing Room For Steel Packing

Workmen take some measurements on the bridge's structure.

Title: The Cables Released Of Tension And Lowered To The Ground

Climbing precariously along steel cables, workers remove cable tensioners. A man on the ground guides the cables to rest.

Title: Top Of Creeper Crane J13, 550ft. Above The Harbour

General views show bridge structure looking towards the approach road.

Title: A Panoramic View Of Sydney Harbour Few Are Privileged To Enjoy

The driver of the crane waves from the top of the jib.

Title: Rough Weather Impeding Progress

Rough seas toss small boats around in the water beneath the bridge. A small motor launch approaches the camera. Another makes it's way through rough waters.

Title: A Knife - A Useful Adjunct In An Emergency

A worker uses a knife to cut a tangled rope attached to a small boat.

Title: Back To The Haven Of The Workshop - In Safety

Two tug like vessels carry a steel beam(?) in the choppy waters.

Title: The First Hanger Goes Up - Length 192 Feet, Weight 37 Tons. The LOngest Member Ever Erected In One Piece. September 25th 1930.

A high angle view shows the hanger positioned on a cradle.

Title: Note Specially Built 70 Ton Cradle Accompanying Member

A crane maneuvers the hanger into position, workers looking on from below. Men use a large lever to help control the hanger in the air.

Title: Messrs. Ennis And Bradfield Watching Operations From Below.

The hanger is hoisted vertically on it's cradle.

Title: Pinning Member To Arch

Workmen secure the hanger. A view of the arch shows the first hanger in position.

Title: Removing Cradle

The cradle which carried the first hanger into position is removed.

Title: The First 37 Tons In Place

Title: The Rest Follows In Quick Succession

Further views follow of the first hanger.

Title: Leaving The Workshop The First 100 Ton Cross Girder Erected, Giving The Familiar Arch A Different Aspect

On the water below the bridge a tug(?) approaches a pontoon which has a girder on it. The pontoon is maneuvered into position by tugs and other craft. The girder is raised by crane and is slowly brought into position near the newly erected bridge hangers. Two large holes in the hanger and the girder are brought into alignment.

Title: Driving 14 inch Pin Securing Guide To Hanger

The pin is eased through the holes by a gang of workmen. A high angle view shows the girder in position at the base of the hangers. Workmen walk over the secured girder. Another view shows the cane positioned above the girder. The bridge is shown from a distance as it moves towards completion.

Title: Piece By Piece Like A Huge Meccano Set The Deck Takes Shape

More steelwork is hoisted into place to create the deck assembly.

Title: Pylons And Approaches Nearing Completion

Stone and brick constructions flank either side of the approach to the bridge like a grand gateway.

Title: Neuchatel Dressing 2 Inches In Thickness Making A Perfect Surface Completes The Roadway

The hot asphalt type material is rolled out over the deck concrete. Then ironed out using long handled irons. From below the unfinished deck is suspended from its hangers. A boat passes beneath the deck. Men weld pipework, riveters secure the metal plates of part of the road deck.

Title; Like Spiders Hanging From Their Webs, Painters Perform Their Daily Toil.

Painters work on the hangers.

Title: Suspended Under The Deck - The 'Gantry' A Permanent Travelling Platform For Use Of Painters

The gantry floats on a pontoon below the bridge. Men attach steel ropes to cranes lifting gear. The gantry is lifted into position. Men pull on ropes to adjust the gantry's position.

Title: The Last Hanger Weigh 7 Tons Goes Aloft - A Contrast To The First Hanger

Men prepare the hanger to be lifted.

Title: Followed Closely By The Last Cross Girder Completing Deck Support.

The crane lowers the girders as men adjust its position. The hanger and the girder slowly meet up. A high angle view shows most of the decking in place. The pin is hammered into place securing hanger to girder.

Title: Connected! Making It Possible To Cross The Deck From Shore

The final pieces of the deck are put into position

Title: February 17th 1931

The official crossing of Sydney Harbour

Title: Mr Ennis Pilots The Minister For Works And Dr Bradfield Across

With work still proceeding, the officials navigate their way across using designated walkways.

Title: Followed Immediately By Mrs Ennis Who Had The Honor Of Being The First Lady To Make The Crossing

Where the plates have been laid for the road surface, a group photo is taken of the men responsible for the project. Mrs Ennis is presented with a bouquet.

Title: The Helen B. Sterling. The First And Probably The Last Big Sailing Vessel To Pass Under The Bridge

A tug guides the ship with the sails still furled under the bridge, and another tug guides the ship at its stern. The tips of the masts test the bridge's clearance levels. General views follow of the bridge nearing completion. The bridge is viewed at sunset

Title: The Last Of The 5,500,000 Rivets Completing The Steelwork Of The Arch. 28th August 1931

At the top of the arch a workman holds the rivet for the camera. On the rivet the words 'The Last Rivet' . The rivet is placed in a small heater unit, then the riveter finishes the profile of the rivet with a pneumatic tool.

Title: Preparing Sleepers To Carry Rail Traffic

Railway sleepers are laid out on the bridge deck. Workmen shape and lay them on the track bed.

Title: Laying The Rails

Men secure the rails to the sleepers.

Title: The Pylons Completed (Height 285ft) Scaffold Erected For Cleaning Down.

General views show the approach road to the bridge.

Title: What A Giant Face To Clean

General views show the tall brick and stone pylons. Men with scrubbing brushes clean the granite blocks.

Title: Tuck Pointing

Men working from a gantry put mortar into the joints around the stonework.

Title: A Great Event - The First Train Is About To Cross The Bridge - 19th January 1932

The distinguished clients pose in front of the engine.

Title: Here She Comes

The engine slowly makes her way across the new railway.

Title: The Crew Who Had The Honour To Pilot The Ancient Warrior Across

The driver and his crew pose for the camera.

Title: It Was Soon Put Into Commission To Transport Necessary Material For Permanent Way.

The engine hauls trucks loaded with materials for completion of the railway.

Title: Overhead Wires To Carry Electric Power For Trains Being Erected

A cable drum pays out its load from a trailer pulled by the steam engine. General views show the engine approaching the camera. Men hoist the cables into position.

Title: A Test Load Of 7660 Tons Being Placed On The Deck. 96 Old Engines Were Used To Make Up The Weight.

General views show the engines being maneuvered onto the deck. An impressive row of old steam engines occupy the length of the deck. The railway runs alongside the roadway.

Title: Delicate Instruments Recording The Stress In The Structure

A technician places one of the measuring instruments on part of the bridge's structure.

Title: The Opening Of The Bridge 19th March 1932

Along one of the approach roads, tiered seating is set up and marching bands arrive in formation. A row of cars arrive carrying officials attending the opening ceremony. General views show a marching brass band

Title: Mr L Ennis & Mrs Ennis The First To Arrive At Dais

Officials and dignitaries arrive in formal dress and sit on chairs arranged in a semi circle on the dais. Sun shines down on the gathering throng.

Title: The Arrival Of The Premier (Mr Lang)

The Premier's car arrives - he and his wife take their place on the dais.

Title: The State Governor (Sir Philip Game)

An open top car arrives, and the governor and his wife are greeted by officials. A brass band plays.

Title: Inspection Of Naval Guard Of Honour

The governor and others inspect the naval guard.

Title: The Governor General Arrives (Sir Isaac Isaac)

Another car arrives and the governor gets out. From the dais, the prime minister makes a speech. A young boy and girl run up to the dais and present a scroll to the prime minister.

Title: Cutting The Ribbon At The South End Of The Bridge

The officials and dignitaries walk up to the ribbon. A special pair of scissors are presented to the prime minister to cut the ribbon.

Title: Incidents After The Ceremony

General views show officials and dignitaries looking on. They leave the ceremony by car and carriages. The prime minister and governor share a carriage.

Title: The Procession Passes Under The Arch Of Steel

A boy heads the procession twirling a mace. The naval band and troops follow. A banner is held aloft as they go across the deck. The banner reads 'Sydney Harbour Bridge Workers'. They pose for a photograph on the deck. A decorated float goes past in the form of a sailing ship. A Scottish Pipe Band follows next. A notice held aloft reads 'Transport Section NRMA' Old and modern forms of transport are represented including a horse, a penny farthing bicycle, and array of other bicycles and a motor-bike. Other floats go by lavishly decorated, some representing areas of Australia. Cavalry on horseback go across the bridge. Women in bathing costumes pose with the man on the penny farthing. A mail stagecoach travels by. A huge group of horses pulling a dray(?). One decorated float has a large butterfly on its front.

Title: The First Passenger Train Across The Bridge

An electric train is cheered on its way across the bridge by onlookers.

Title: On Land, Sea And Air Pageantry Pays Homage To The Day

A ship crowded with passengers on deck and decorated with bunting passes beneath the bridge. Lots of smaller boats take to the water on this special day. Airplanes fly across the harbour, with more views of the ships and boats.

Title: The Bridge Opened To The Public

Views of crowds of visitors anxious to go across the bridge.

Title: Thousands Stream Across And Marvel At Its Strength And Beauty

General views of the milling crowds on the deck of the new bridge enjoying the event and the views. A high angle view follows of the approach road with enthusiastic onlookers making their way to the bridge.

Title: The Crowning Achievement, The Bridge Is Built, A Task Accomplished - A Gift To Posterity

A Union Jack flies along with a general view of the bridge while under construction, as the sun goes down.

Title: This picture was taken with 16mm Ana... cine cameras under direction of Harrington by courtesy of - Dorman Long & Co. Ltd.

End of Film

[The opening celebration drew remarkable crowds of up to one million people and included a spectacular parade of decorated floats, marching groups and bands, a gun-salute, a procession of passenger ships beneath the bridge, a ‘Venetian’ carnival, a fly-past, fireworks and sports carnival – all funded during the world-wide Great Depression.  The total financial cost of the bridge was not paid off until 1988.

As the Governor General was about to cut the ribbon a horseman in military uniform rode up and slashed the ribbon with his sword. Francis de Groot made the assertion that he was opening the bridge in the name of the people of New South Wales. The ribbon was hurriedly retied and the prime minister performed the official opening ceremony.]