John Bradfield (1867 – 1943) civil engineer
John Bradfield designer and chief engineer for the Sydney Harbour Bridge, regularly attended St John’s Church of England, Gordon in Sydney. His life was one of total professional zeal and commitment, and he became an outstanding Australian engineer in his generation.
The highlight of Bradfield’s career undoubtedly was the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932.
He was a member of the official party and the governor Sir Philip Game named the bridge highway after him.
Bradfield had wide interests within his chosen profession. Early in 1916 he was appointed by the New South Wales government to a committee to establish and manage a school of aviation at Richmond. In 1919 he was a founder of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, and as a councillor in 1920-24 and 1927 represented it on the Australian Commonwealth Standards Association; he was also a member of the Australian National Research Council. He always maintained close links with the University of Sydney: he was a member of its senate in 1913-43, a trustee of Wesley College in 1917-43, a councillor of the Women’s College from 1931, and from 1942 deputy chancellor. He was a member of the University Club and from 1922 of the Royal Society of New South Wales.
Bradfield regularly attended St John’s Church of England, Gordon, and was a keen gardener. He died at his home at Gordon on 23 September 1943 and was buried in St John’s cemetery; a memorial service was held at St Andrew’s Cathedral. He was survived by his wife, five sons and a daughter; his youngest son Keith inherited his father’s interest in aviation and was assistant director general, Department of Civil Aviation, in 1957-68. Bradfield’s estate was valued for probate at £13,843: his salary had been ‘by no means commensurate’ with his importance.
Bradfield was small in stature, with a quiet and humorous disposition. His life was one of total professional zeal and commitment, and he became an outstanding Australian engineer in his generation. Florence Taylor noted his ‘tremendous faith in his ability which is not a conceit when there is an enormous knowledge behind that faith and ability’. He was honoured by the award of the (Sir) Peter Nicol Russell Medal by the Institution of Engineers, Australia, in 1932, the (W. C.) Kernot Memorial Medal by the University of Melbourne in 1933, and the Telford Gold Medal of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, in 1934. His vision of Sydney captured the imagination of many, including J. T. Lang who later wrote: ‘Bradfield wanted to be the Napoleon III of Sydney. He wanted to pull down everything in the way of his grandiose schemes. He was always thinking of the future. He was probably the first man to plan for Sydney as a city of two million people’.
John Bradfield passed away 23 September 1943. The Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 24 September, reported:
After a service at St. John’s Church of England, Gordon, at 3 p.m., to-day, the funeral will be held at St. John’s Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at St. Andrew’s Cathedral at 1.30 p.m. on Saturday.
Sydney Harbour Bridge : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sydney_Harbour_Bridge
Sydney Harbour Bridge and Eternity : Arthur Stace http://atributetoaustralianchristians.wordpress.com/2010/10/22/arthur-stace/
The Federal electorate of Bradfield : http://www.aec.gov.au/profiles/B/Bradfield.htm
Image : St John’s Church of England, Gordon
Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon,_New_South_Wales
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