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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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  2. Building The Bridge
  3. JJC Bradfield and JT Lang: the movers and shakers
  4. JJC Bradfield
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John Job Crew Bradfield

Look and Listen

View the short film clip ‘Whose Bridge?’ from Episode 1, ‘The Bridge’ of the Film Australia series Constructing Australia: Triumphs and tragedies in building a nation. To view the clip go to the following Screen Australia website resources for teachers. Scroll down to the ‘Video clips’ at bottom right of page. Select ‘Whose Bridge?’

Look at these questions before you view the clip.

Questions for film clip ‘Whose Bridge?’

  • What role did Great Britain play in the design and building of the Bridge?
  • Do you think the British were justified in claiming that it was an ‘all-British engineering feat’?
  • Ralph Freeman’s name is not widely known in connection with the bridge. Find out more about the dispute between Ralph Freeman and Dr Bradfield over the design of the bridge.
  • The Bodyline Controversy was a famous dispute about cricket between Australia and England in the 1930s. Find out more about this dispute in the ‘Investigate’ activity below.
  • Why is the dispute about the bridge design referred to as ‘the bodyline of engineering’?


  • The Bodyline Controversy referred to in the Film Australia documentary is a fascinating story. Find out all about it by reading the transcript of ABC Radio National’s program, The Sports Factor. Amanda Smith interviews famous cricketers of the past on the 70th Anniversary of Bodyline (8/11/2002)
  • What role in the design and building of the Bridge did the following people play?
    • Lawrence Ennis
    • Edward Judge
    • Ralph Freeman.

Think about it

  • Read the article, ‘Feelings high at English bridge claim’ about the controversy surrounding the roles of Bradfield and Freeman in the design of the Bridge in The Australian, 12 March 2007.
    Or download word doc.
    • What arguments are offered by Peter Bradfield, grandson of JJC Bradfield, and Professor Jim Forbes of Sydney University about who deserves most credit?
    • What evidence does each use to support his argument?
    • Which of the two arguments is the most persuasive in your opinion. Why?
    • What does Professor Forbes mean when he says ‘It’s almost un-Australian to knock Bradfield’? Do you agree?
    • Does Ralph Freeman deserve more credit than he has received?
    • What conclusion would you draw about this controversy?
    • What conclusion is drawn by the writer of the article in Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering. See first paragraph.


  • Write a report on this controversy entitled ‘Who deserves the credit for the design of the Sydney Harbour Bridge?’
    Your report should include:
    • Introduction to establish the historical context and brief outline of the nature of the controversy.
    • Explanation of the arguments relating to the role of John Bradfield, supported by relevant evidence.
    • Explanation of Ralph Freeman’s role supported by relevant evidence.
    • Conclusion in which you summarise the key issues and offer your own conclusion.
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