The story behind Sydney Harbour Bridge

As one of Australia’s most recognised landmarks, Sydney Harbour Bridge is sure to top the must-see list of any visitor to the Land Down Under. As early as 1815, the construction of a bridge across the harbour had been suggested, but it wasn’t until 1900 that it became a serious concept.

A design competition was held, and in 1922, British firm Dorman Long & Co Ltd of Middlesbrough, won this prestigious contract and started work on a project that would take nine years to complete.

During this huge construction challenge, between 2,500 and 4,000 workers, from architects and surveyors to blacksmiths and painters, were employed in various aspects of the build. Men who had served in the First World War were offered preferential employment, but the work was difficult and dangerous. Forget about health and safety – as the men worked at heights of up to more than 400ft there were no harnesses, no hard hats, eye and ear protection were rare, and the workers were at the mercy of the wind and rain. Considering all that, it’s a miracle that just 16 workers lost their lives during the build.

In February 1932, the bridge was test loaded, with 96 steam locomotives placed end to end on it, and three weeks later it opened to traffic. Now, not only can you journey across it by car, bike or on foot, but you can cruise under it, fly over it and if you’re feeling brave you can even climb it – harness included!

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