photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum
This photo, dated the 6th of January 1932, features perhaps the first coat of paint being applied to the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge. I wonder how many times the bridge has been painted since? At this stage of construction the main arches had been joined. On deck level, the road, rail and lighting was almost complete. With around 485,000 square metres of steelwork, the task of protecting the steelwork from corrosion by painting was no mean feat. According to the New South Wales Board of Studies;
The original paint primer was lead oxide based with the finishing coats based on micaceous iron oxide. Both these paints are deleterious to the environment and the RTA is removing original paint layers and using modern coating materials in their place.
The initial three coats of paint placed on the bridge used 272 000 litres of paint. The replacement of the paint is a regular part of maintenance and an ongoing cost.
This photo is from a series of glass plate prints originally taken by the Department of Public Works, Sydney Harbour Bridge Branch between 1923 and 1933. Copies of these prints have been acquired by both the State Records NSW and the Powerhouse Museum. Images from this collection will soon feature in our upcoming free sydney Harbour Bridge historical walking tour currently in production for iOS and Android devices. They will also be made available on the Powerhouse Museum’s Flickr Commons. For more information on the original glass plate negatives, greater series and contents please see the State Records of NSW and State Records Archives Investigator.
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