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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Historical background of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The possibility of linking the northern and southern shores of Sydney Harbour was discussed as early as 1815, when the former convict turned Government Architect Francis Greenway reputedly suggested to Governor Macquarie that the North Shore should be linked to Sydney by a bridge. In letters to The Australian in 1825, Greenway wrote, that such a bridge would ‘give an idea of strength and magnificence that would reflect credit and glory on the colony and the Mother Country’

Numerous proposals were discussed in the nineteenth century, including a suggestion in 1840 by the naval architect Mr Robert Brindley, that a floating bridge be constructed.

The Sydney engineer Peter Henderson is credited with one of the earliest known drawings of a bridge to connect Sydney with North Sydney, dating from around 1857. Other suggestions included a truss bridge in 1879 and in 1880 a high-level bridge costing £850,000.

A senior engineer who worked for the Department of Public Works, J. J. C. Bradfield is regarded as the ‘father’ of the Bridge as it was his vision, enthusiasm, engineering, expertise and detailed supervision of all aspects of its construction that ‘brought Sydney’s long held dream into reality’.

Bradfield favoured building a cantilever overpass, without piers, between Dawes Point and McMahons Point. In 1916 the Legislative Assembly passed the Bill for the construction of a cantilever bridge.

It did not proceed however, as the Legislative Council rejected the legislation on the grounds that money would be better used for the war effort.

This setback did not deter Bradfield who developed the full specifications and scheme to finance the construction of a cantilever bridge. In 1921 he went overseas to investigate tenders for the project. Bradfield’s overseas research however, convinced him that tenders should be called for both cantilever and arch designs. The necessary Act was finally passed in 1922 — the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act No. 28 — for the construction of a high-level cantilever or arch bridge across Sydney Harbour by connecting Dawes Point with Milson’s Point. The Act also provided for the construction of the bridge and its approaches and also included the construction of electric railway lines.

In 1923 tenders were called for a cantilever or arch bridge. Twenty tenders were received from six countries. On 24 March 1924 the contract was given to the English firm Dorman Long & Co of Middlesbrough England with a design for an arch bridge at a tender price of £4,217,721.00 (and 11 shillings and 10 pence) [4].

The arch design was not only cheaper than the cantilever and suspension proposals but had the advantage of greater rigidity, and was therefore better fitted for the heavy loads the bridge was required to carry.

Construction began on 28 July, 1923. The contractors set up two workshops at Milson’s Point on the North Shore where the steel was fabricated into girders. The granite for the pylons was quarried near Moruya, where about 250 workers and their families lived in a temporary settlement. The two arches met at the centre of the span in August 1930 and Premier Jack Lang opened the Harbour Bridge on the 19 March, 1932. Francis Edward de Groot, a member of the New Guard disrupted the opening ceremony when, disguised as a military horseman, he slashed the ceremonial ribbon before the Premier was able to officially open the bridge. The opening celebrations were surprisingly lavish considering that New South Wales, like the rest of Australia, was in the depths of the Great Depression. It has been estimated that between 300,000 and 1,000,000 people participated in the festivities. The celebrations included decorated floats, marching groups and bands, a gun-salute, a procession of passenger ships under the Bridge and a Venetian Carnival.

After the pageant members of the public were allowed to walk across the deck — an opportunity that was not offered to the public again until the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Bridge in 1982

Taken from http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/guides-and-finding-aids/archives-in-brief/archives-in-brief-37

The brief biography of Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon was born on the island of Corsica in 1769. His family had received French nobility status when France made Corsica a province in that year, and Napoleon was sent to France in 1777 to study at the Royal Military School in Brienne. In 1784, Napoleon spent a year studying at the Ecole Militaire in Paris, graduating as a Second Lieutenant of artillery. Sent to Valence on a peacetime mission, Napoleon whiled away the hours there educating himself in history and geography.

During the tumultuous years of the French Revolution, Napoleon fought well for the Republic, helping to defeat the British at Toulon. For his services there, he was made a Brigadier General. After the Directory came to power, Napoleon married Josephine de Beauharnais and gained command of the French army in Italy, where, after defeating the Austrians in 1797, he negotiated the Treaty of Campo Formio. This victory boosted Napoleon to widespread popularity when he returned to France. Eager to get rid of this potential challenger, the Directory agreed to let Napoleon take an army on an Egyptian campaign to capture Egypt and hamper British shipping to India. Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt did not go as planned, and when he heard that the Directory was losing power, he abandoned his army and rapidly returned to Paris to take advantage of the situation, becoming the first of three consuls in the new government proclaimed in 1799.

As First Consul, Napoleon began a program to consolidate his power. He ended the current rift between France and the Church by instituting the Concordat of 1801. France was then involved in several wars. In 1802, Napoleon signed the Peace of Amiens, a temporary peace with the British. In order to be able to concentrate solely on his European affairs, he sold France’s Louisiana territory to the U.S. in 1803. And in 1804, he set the foundation for much of Europe’s legal system by establishing the Napoleonic Code. In 1804, Napoleon did away with the Consulate and crowned himself Emperor in an extravagant coronation ceremony.

In 1805, Napoleon was planning an invasion of England when the Russian and Austrian armies began marching towards France. Napoleon’s forces defeated them at Austerlitz, but not before the British fleet had destroyed Napoleon’s navy at Trafalgar. At this time, Napoleon expanded his Empire by creating the Confederation of the Rhine in Germany and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw in Poland. By now, Napoleon controlled almost all of Western Europe with the exception of Spain. He decided to try and destroy the economy of his major enemy, Britain, by instituting the Continental System, under which all European ports would refuse to accept British shipments. He failed in this task, and in trying to force Spain to comply touched off the Peninsular War. Russia and Prussia, however, did cooperate with Napoleon for a few years under the Treaty of Tilsit (1807).

n 1810, Josephine, although the mother of two children by her previous husband, had not yet provided Napoleon with any heirs; distressed by this, he had his marriage to her annulled and married the 18-year-old Austrian archduchess Marie Louise. She gave birth to a son in 1811. Around this time, Czar Alexander I withdrew Russia from the Continental System. In 1812, Napoleon’s Grand Army entered Russia in order to punish Alexander, but the ravages of the deadly Russian winter decimated his army. Meanwhile, affairs in France began to look unstable. Napoleon rushed back to Paris and raised a new army, only to be defeated by a coalition of European forces at Leipzig in 1814.

Napoleon was then exiled to the isle of Elba, where he plotted his return. With the great powers of Europe deep in negotiations over how to redivide the continent, Napoleon escaped from Elba, sneaked into France, and raised a new army in the period known as the Hundred Days. In June 1815, the armies of Wellington and Blucher defeated Napoleon at Waterloo. Napoleon was again exiled, this time to distant Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821.

Taken from http://www.sparknotes.com/biography/napoleon/summary.html