March 02, 2015

Horse 1849 - Bradfield's Plan vs NSW's Not Planning At All

John Jacob Bradfield or "Job" (to rhyme with bob - from John and Jacob), was an ex-Queenslander who move to Sydney because Sydney was it "it" place if you wanted to do anything in the collection of six colonies, ten thousand miles away from Britain but a quarter of a mile away from the sun.

As a bright young 22 year old idealist, he'd read about the new fandangled electric trains on the London Underground and was spurred on to become an engineer. The first electric line on the London Underground was opened in 1890 and Bradfield went on to complete his Bachelor of Engineering in 1889 and then his Masters in 1896 at the University of Sydney.
During that time, he got a job at the NSW Department of Public Works as a lowly clerk but sooner worked his way up through the organisation and by 1912 he was appointed as Chief Engineer for the construction of Sydney's metropolitan rail network and spent three years surveying lands, speaking with captains of industry and then finally in winter of 1915 he submitted his grand plan for Sydney;' which included the long promised bridge across the harbour; but something got in the way - the war.
New South Wales in 1915, was more committed to sending her sons across the waves to be blown to pieces on foreign shores or Flanders' fields than to bother about dreaming dreams of a grand tomorrow once they got home.

Brafield's plan involved an underground city loop, which wasn't realised until 1954, two extra lines through the north shore and the northern beaches, neither of which eventuated and in addition to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, another bridge across the top of Darling Harbour.
As the war dragged on through, the funding for what have been the projects was pulled and as for the the electric trains in the suburbs, the underground railway in Sydney and the bridge across the harbour - all three dreams died.

After the war ended, Bradfield returned to his job at the Department of Public Works where he would in time find a helpful ear in the the Premier of New South Wales, George Fuller. Fuller's governemt began construction on the Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the electric railways; including provisions to extend and expand the network. Platforms 1 and 2 were supposed to for the Northern Beaches line which was never built and those two platforms became a tram terminus.
The line to the Eastern Suburbs would in time be completed but it made us of the extra platforms at Town Hall, rather than the two inner platforms at St James Station which remained ghosts until they were filled in.

I imagine that at some point after the Sydney Harbour Bridge was completed and after Jack Lang's government was dismissed from office because of loans and debt disputes (and which still remains the only state government in Australia to be removed by its Govenor), Bradfield found his role harder to fulfil. The new Premier in Bertram Stevens had won government with 66 seats out of 90 and immediately set about tightening the purse strings. Bradfield's plans if he had any more, would be put on hold indefinately; so he retired.

Bradfield moved back to Queensland where he gained a similar post in the Queensland Department of Public Works and was commissioned to design and build yet another bridge - this would be the Story Bridge; across the Brisbane River and is was opened in 1940.
The roads across both the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Story Bridge are named the Bradfield Highway after John Jacob Bradfield which I suppose does give a tip of the hat to him.

Almost 100 years after Bradfield's orginal plan though, I'm quietly annoyed that the line through Balmain was never completed and as I sit in buses which come off the Sydney Habour Bridge in a southbound direction, I'm almost constantly annoyed that the two tunnels which could separate the buses from the rest of the traffic, are being used as car parks. Whoever thought that it was a good idea to turn a vital piece of infrastructure into a carpark is a nincompoop.
I could be taking a train, almost to the door of where I work in Mosman if Bradfield's plans has come to fruition. Sadly, instead of state governments who have a vision of 100 years hence like Bradfield had, most of the time we have bureaucrats whose vision extends to the end of their pens on cheque books.

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