John Bradfield – one of the many successful district kids.

The Sandgate Visionary –


John Job Crew Bradfield, born in Sandgate in 1867, was known for his lead role in the design and construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney’s underground railway. These projects were vital for the growth of this now large city.  He started his life in Rainbow Street, Sandgate on two roods of land on the corner of Washington Street. His family moved to Ipswich where John attended North Ipswich State School and later he received a scholarship to Ipswich Grammar School. He studied at Sydney University and travelled overseas to study underground railways and long span-bridge construction in Europe and America in 1914.

After his work in Sydney he took on many Queensland projects. Planning and design work for the St Lucia site of the University of Queensland campus, consulting engineering work for the Story Bridge over the Brisbane River and advisory work for the Hornibrook Highway.  In 1940 when the Story Bridge was completed it was the seventh largest cantilever bridge in the world. With his vision for the future growth of Brisbane, the Story Bridge was built with six lanes.

Another of the visionary ideas of this talented engineer, but not realised, is the Bradfield Plan. He wanted to take the monsoonal waters pouring into far north Queensland rivers, pipe it across the Great Dividing Range, and direct it into Lake Eyre in the centre of the continent. In the time when Bradfield was sitting in his Sydney office dreaming of this scheme the bulldozer was still a novelty and yet now with satellite guided excavators his plan could be implemented.

People have wanted to honour Dr Bradfield by changing the name of Rainbow Street to Bradfield Street but he humbly asked that the name remain unchanged. However, Bradfield Street in Brighton is named after him.