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Construction

Did you know one worker survived a fall from the bridge?

Boilermaker Vincent Kelly was also an experienced diver and swam to safety after falling into the harbour.

Hazardous working conditions

Hundreds of people worked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the eight years of its construction. It created jobs and helped to boost morale during the Great Depression.

Working conditions on the bridge were difficult, with very little safety equipment. Sixteen men died during construction, including a number who fell to their death.

Click on the photos below for more information

  • A group photograph of workers sitting under a large steel construction. Several smoke pipes and most wear overalls and hats.
    Large workforce
  • A man stands astride two sections of metal bridgework. He wars overalls and shoes without socks. Another man stands smiling while resting on another section of bridge at right.
    Working at height
  • Two men work to drive a metal pin into a section of bridge.
    Dangerous work
  • Workers on top of a section of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
    Hazardous conditions
  • A photo of cranes of on each side of the arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge before the sides converged in the centre.
    Arch
  • Two workers adjust the track for a ‘creeper’ crane atop a metal section of bridge.
    Crane tracks
  • Black and white photograph of the partially constructed Sydney Harbour Bridge, with part of the road deck hanging below the main arch.
    Road deck
  • A man using a hand-held rivet gun during the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
    Rivets
  • The front and back of a medal awarded to Vince Kelly.  The front has an image of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with an inscription that reads: 'From L. Ennis. O.B.E. Director of Construction'. The inscription on the back reads: 'To Vincent R. Kelly. To mark his preservation from serious injury on falling into the harbour. A distance of 182 feet. 23rd. Oct. 1930.'
    Survival medal
  • Circular medal awarded to V Kelly inscribed 'Sydney Harbour Bridge, arch locked, Aug 19, 1930.'
    Arch medal
  • Black and white photograph of two men working on large granite blocks.
    Granite blocks
  • A worker uses wedges and a hammer to split a granite block.
    Pylon stone
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