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OPENING of the SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE 19 MARCH 1932

The stamps commemorating this event were issued on the 14 March 1932, with the two red 2d stamps (single line perf. 11, for the unwatermarked recess print and comb perf. 10.5 for the letterpress stamp) with the blue 3d and the green 5/- stamps. The design featured the bridge from the south-east, with a large liner, R.M.S. Orford passing beneath to provide a perspective of size (Figure 1).

 

 

A large amount of commemorative and philatelically inspired material was produced on the Bridge on 19 March 1932 at the post offices sited in the massive pylons that support the Bridge at its north and south ends. Souvenir Telegram covers used for posting the telegrams are one form of commemorative of the opening event. In addition to a partial depiction of the pylons and Bridge there are two postmarkings: a square box with SYDNEY/ HARBOUR/ BRIDGE/ N.S.W along the sides with the date in the middle, and a rectangular box with POSTED ON BRIDGE/ DURING OPENING/ CELEBRATIONS (Figure 2).

 

 

The official opening day on Saturday 19 March 1932 was a momentous occasion, drawing remarkable crowds to the city and around the harbour foreshores (estimated between 300,000 and one million people). The NSW Premier, the Hon. John T. Lang, officially declared the Bridge open. However he was upstaged when Captain Francis (Frank) De Groot of the para-military group, known as the New Guard, who was on horse slashed the ribbon prematurely with his sword, prior to the official cutting. This incident caused both amusement and dismay on the day, and has since become part of Australian folklore (Figure 3).

 

 

It was as early as 1815 that Francis Greenway proposed building a bridge from the northern to the southern shore of the harbour. After the First World War serious plans were made, with a general design for the Sydney Harbour Bridge being prepared by Dr. J.J.C. Bradfield and officers of the NSW Department of Public Works. The Government then invited world-wide tenders for the construction of the Bridge in 1922 and the contract was let to the English firm of Dorman Long and Co. of Middlesbrough. Bradfield is considered to be the 'Father' of the Bridge.

Construction started in 1924 and it took 1400 men eight years to build at a cost of £4.2 million. Six million hand driven rivets and 53,000 tonnes of steel were used in construction and it now carries eight traffic lanes and two rail lines, one in each direction. As many as 800 families living in the Bridge's path were relocated and their homes demolished without any compensation, when the construction was started. Sixteen workers' lives were lost during the construction of the Bridge. Most Australians alive at the time of the event remember that the popular Australian actor of 'Crocodile Dundee' fame (Paul Hogan) was one of the Bridge's many painters, before his acting career started.. One of the most interesting picture taken during the Bridge construction is shown in Figure 4.

 

 

 
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