University Officers

John Job Crew Bradfield CMG

An early graduate of the University of Sydney (BE 1889, ME 1896, DScEng 1924), John Job Crew Bradfield CMG, civil engineer, was a Fellow of Senate of the University from 1913 to 1943 and was Deputy Chancellor in 1942.


(1867 - 1943)
CMG, BE DScEng Sydney
Fellow of Senate 1913 - 1943, including election by Senate as
– Deputy Chancellor 1942

His early years

John Job Crew Bradfield was born on 26 December 1867 at Sandgate, Queensland.

He was educated at the North Ipswich State School and the Ipswich Grammar School, and passed the Sydney senior public examination in 1885 gaining the medal for chemistry.

Dux of Ipswich Grammar School, he won a Queensland government university exhibition.

His student days at the University of Sydney

Bradfield matriculated at the University of Sydney with honours in mathematics in 1886.

Residing at St Andrew's College, he won the Levey Scholarship for Chemistry, the Smith Prize for Physics and the Sulman Prize for Architecture, with 1st class honours throughout the engineering course. He graduated from the Bachelor of Engineering with the University Gold Medal in 1889. In 1896, Bradfield graduated from the Master of Engineering with first-class honours and the University Medal.

In 1924 he received the first doctorate of science in engineering awarded by the University of Sydney, for a thesis entitled 'The city and suburban electric railways and the Sydney Harbour Bridge'.

John Bradfield

John Bradfield c1886, photo 14162, Ipswitch Pictures, Ipswitch City Council.


John Bradfield, ME, photo, The Sydney Mail, 29 December 1920, Google News Archive.


Front row from left: Dr Bradfield, the Chancellor Sir William Cullen, the Governor His Excellency Sir Dudley de Chair, Lady de Chair and the Vice-Chancellor Dr Cecil Purser on Thursday 30 May 1924, follwing the conferring of degrees ceremony where Bradfield had graduated Doctor of Science of Engineering, photo courtesy of State Records NSW, Digital ID: 12685_a007_a00704_8722000098.

His career

Bradfield worked as a draftsman under the chief engineer of railways in Brisbane, before joining the New South Wales Department of Public Works in 1891 as a temporary draftsman. An associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London from 1893, Bradfield was associated with a great range of engineering work including the Cataract Dam near Sydney and the Burrinjuck Dam which formed part of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and in 1909 became assistant engineer.

In 1912 Bradfield proposed a suspension bridge to connect Sydney and North Sydney, but in April also submitted a cantilever design. Next year the committee recommended acceptance of his scheme for construction of a cantilever bridge from Dawes Point to Milsons Point. In 1913 his title was changed to chief engineer for metropolitan railway construction.

In 1914 he went overseas to investigate new approaches to metropolitan railway construction. Early next year he reported on the proposed electric lines for the city of Sydney.

The easy passage of the Harbour Bridge Act undoubtedly increased Bradfield's determination to promote other sections of his scheme.

The opening of the St James and Museum stations and the new section of the Central Station at Chalmers Street on 20 December 1926 marked his plan's first result.

In February 1930 he was retired by the railway commissioners; however he continued to represent the government in dealings with the contractors and to supervise construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


Secretary for Public Works, R T Ball lays foundation stone for the Sydney Harbour Bridge designed by Dr Bradfield, in centre (looking straight into the camera) on 26 March 1925, photo, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Digital order number: hood_02960.


John Bradfield by H C Krutli c1930, photo, National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an23278893.


John Bradfield (centre) with Professor Edgeworth David (right) on the nearly completed Bridge in 1931, photo, University of Sydney Archives.


Dr Bradfield and his wife at the opening of the bridge on 19 March 1932, photo, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Digital order number: hood_05273.


Engineer Bradfield, the Lord Mayor of Sydney Samuel Walder and police commissioner, Sydney Harbour Bridge Celebrations on 19 March 1932, photo, Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, Digital order number: hall_38478.

In 1933 he was appointed CMG and he retired from the public service in July.

In 1934 Bradfield was appointed consulting engineer for the design, fabrication and construction of a bridge and approaches across the Brisbane River from Kangaroo Point to Bowen Terrace. He was also technical adviser to the constructors of the Hornibrook Highway near Brisbane and helped to plan and design the University of Queensland's new site at St Lucia.

Bradfield had wide interests within his chosen profession. In 1919 he was a founder of the Institution of Engineers, Australia.

He died at his home at Gordon on 23 September 1943.

From the Australian Dictionary of Biography

His membership of Senate

Bradfield was a member of its Senate in 1913-43, and Deputy Chancellor in 1942.

He always maintained close links with the University of Sydney: a trustee of Wesley College in 1917-43, a councillor of the Women's College from 1931, and a member of the University Club.