A Great Scheme for a "New Sydney".

From Engineering Heritage New South Wales

 The Sydney Mail November 7, 1923

From the Notes of Mr. J. J. C. Bradfield, Chief Engineer, Metropolitan Railway Construction and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Written by Kathleen M. Butler.

It is noted that this article is an exact copy of part of John Bradfield's thesis for the degree of Doctor of Science in Engineering, pages 268 - 278, signed by him on 26 December 1923, nearly two months after the publication in the Sydney Mail..The meaning of Written by Kathleen Butler from the notes of J.J.C. Bradfield, is thus more clearly understood. The illustrations used in this webpage are taken from the thesis rather than the newspaper as the quality of reproduction is much better. The maps of the tank stream etc do not appear in the thesis.

SHB Great New Scheme Picture 1.JPG

Governor Phillip’s “little clearing in the bush” of 1788 has grown into a mighty city, having a population in 1921 of 1,030,800, while the unimproved capital value of the Greater Sydney area is estimated at 100,000,000 sterling.

“By the bridge head crescent York, Clarence and Kent streets can be must satisfactorily connected to the bridge approach and when the Sydney Harbour bridge and the bridge to Balmain are constructed the crescent will distribute traffic along these high-level streets as efficiently as possible.” Bradfield's DSc(Eng) thesis.

SYDNEY to-day may be divided broadly into three zones; the eastern zone, from Macquarie-street to Elizabeth-street – the professional and residential; the central zone, from Castlereagh-street to George-street – the shopping; and the western zone, from York-street to Darling Harbour – the warehouse and shipping zone.

The professional zone, including as it does the Houses of Parliament, Law Courts, Public Libraries, Sydney Hospital, Royal Society, and various clubs, will always be preferred by doctors, barristers, solicitors, dentists, and other professional men requiring a quiet location near the centre of their activities; the fact that one side of Macquarie-street and one side of Elizabeth-street is flanked by park lands renders these streets more valuable for professional than shopping purposes.

The shopping zone embraces Castlereagh-street, Pitt-street, George-street, and Elizabeth-street South, with Liverpool-street and Oxford-street as east-west avenues. With the advent of the city and suburban electric railways and the Sydney Harbour bridge, land in the zone will rapidly increase in value.

Going Skyward

SYDNEY is going skyward, for those streets now flanked by two, three, and four storey buildings will have to be fronted by much higher buildings for the owner to get an adequate monetary return; already there is evidence of the advent of the tall building. And what will the traffic then be like? To-day vehicular traffic is allowed in one direction only in Pitt-street and in Castlereagh-street, whilst the footpaths are far too narrow. The footpaths will have to be increased in width, by arcading the shop fronts, or by narrowing the widths of the roadways, or by straight-out resumption, and the trams must be removed from these streets or placed underground and vehicular traffic allowed to proceed both directions. In some of the busiest shopping areas, as the block bounded by King, George, Market and Pitt streets, an upper level footpath, above the street level, will without doubt be constructed in the future, as it will be required to give the necessary shopping facilities. George-street will be the main shopping thoroughfare, and will be flanked by tall buildings from the Quay to Broadway.

Suburban Goods Stations

THE warehouse and shipping zone is and always will be occupied by warehouses, by produce merchants, as in Sussex-street, and similar commercial establishments, which must be of necessity be close to the wharves and railway goods yard. With the advent of the system of city and suburban railways there will be railway goods stations probably at North Sydney, Mosman, Manly, Narrabeen, Leichhardt, Balmain, Bondi, Randwick, Daceyville, etc., and the produce and goods which now arrive at Darling Harbour by train and along the sea-front by boat. Instead of being distributed through the streets of the city and suburbs, as at present, will be carried to the suburbs by railway, except in the warehouse area in the city and Pyrmont, where it will be taken, as at present, by vehicular traffic using the streets. With the inevitable increase of vehicular traffic to and from the railway goods yards and the wharves it is essential that adequate means should be provided to cope with this traffic. Here it will be interesting to note the traffic counts of vehicles made on July 2nd, 1923, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., the numbers given be the average daily traffic in both directions. At the Fort Macquarie ferry, 1778 vehicles; at Dawes’ Point ferry, 472 vehicles; at the intersection of Boomerang and College streets, 3650; William and College streets 2484; Oxford and College streets,16,580; Elizabeth-street and Eddy-avenue, 23,752; Central Railway Square, 17,112; and Pyrmont Bridge, 15,106 vehicles – a total of 80,934 daily in both directions.

Traffic Figures

THE return herewith furnished by the Inspector-General of Police showing the volume of traffic passing over various points during eight hours of any one day is instructive. There were sixty-one checking points, and the totals for the whole of the whole of those points represent;-


   106 steel-tyred waggons above 3½ tons.
6,835 waggons with solid rubber tyres above 3½ tons.
15,539 waggons with solid rubber tyres under 3½ tons.
1,379 trucks with pneumatic tyres above 3½ tons.
16,393 trucks with pneumatic tyres under 3½ tons.
50.333 motor cars


29,803 four-wheeled vehicles with steel tyres.
28,633 two-wheeled vehicles with steel tyres.

Gross Total of Horses

81,496 horses, whether included in the above figures or not.

Miscellaneous Vehicles

14,803 wheel traffic not included in the foregoing figures.

The number of pedestrians where the count could be taken totalled 99,681. Pedestrians were counted at 44 points in the city, but at 17 points no count was taken, as the great number of foot passengers rendered it impossible to check them with any reasonable degree of accuracy. It is considered, however, that the pedestrian traffic was probably more than double that recorded.

The grand total of vehicles, motor and horse-drawn, horses, and pedestrians, as well as miscellaneous vehicles, is shown to be 345,001.

THE density of the tramway traffic, particularly during the morning and evening rush, when the headway in George, Pitt and Elizabeth streets is 17 seconds per tram in one direction, and the headway on one track in each street at the intersection of King and George streets is six seconds, greatly increases the difficulty of satisfactorily handling the vehicular traffic of the city, and this traffic is now assuming very serious proportions, as the figures above, given by Superintendent Brack, indicate.

At Central station the passenger traffic is very heavy between the hours of 4 p.m. and 6.30 p.m.. In these 2½ hours on May 6th, 1920, 58,122 passengers entered and 10,972 passengers left the station, the maximum hourly traffic being between 5.10 p.m. and 6.10 p.m., when 37,200 passengers entered and 5780 passengers left the station. Based on the traffic statistics of other cities, this represents a daily traffic of 250,000 passengers – i.e., 125,000 passengers in and out of the station daily. Liverpool-street Station, London, has a daily traffic of 200,000; Gare Saint Lazare, Paris, 250,000 per day and South Station, Boston, 210,000 per day; so that the passenger traffic at Central Station is equal to, if not greater than, any other station in the world. Central Station is a tram terminus as well as a train terminus. Sydney Central will not always be the only terminal in the metropolis; a terminal station to deal with the northern and north-western traffic will probably be situated at St Leonards in the years to come.

Removal of Pyrmont Bridge

THE construction of the city railway, with its five projected stations in the heart of the city – viz., Town Hall, Wynyard-square, Circular Quay, St James and Liverpool-street – involves the reclamation of Darling Harbour. Twenty-three acres of water are now being filled in and the area added to the railway goods yard; a road 100ft wide is being constructed around the foreshores of the harbour from Jones Bay to Bathurst-street, with a bridge over the railway tracks to Union-street; access to the new goods yard will be obtained from Barker-street, which is to be widened to 66ft, whilst the Harbour Trust is constructing a road along the foreshores of Darling Harbour from Bathurst-street northwards. When the reclamation and these roads are complete Pyrmont Bridge will be removed.

It is not generally known that Darling Harbour (then Cockle Bay) extended to George-street; that a creek from Surry Hills flowed into it approximately along the line of Hay-street; and that the low-lying area between Darling Harbour goods yard and Hay-street – i.e. the area intersected by Dixon, Harbour, Burns, Lackey, Quay, and Pier streets – is reclaimed land. The location of the bridge on the plan is where Hay-street crossed George-street then called High-street. Sydney Mail 7 November 1923. P9
The Tank Stream flowed from its source near the intersection of George and Market streets (Farmers Corner) to Circular Quay, near Pitt-street. The plan dated 1800 shows the Quay and the Tank Stream, also the bridge from Sydney Mail, 7 November 1923 p9.

Relieving George-Street Traffic

TRAFFIC in this vicinity at present is badly catered for, and with the growing traffic to the goods yard and the wharves the congestion will rapidly become worse. Present conditions force the traffic along the narrow north-south streets parallel to the harbour and thence into or across George-street to reach the northern, eastern, or western suburbs. To relieve George-street of this traffic, especially from Market-street via Railway-square to the University corner, the Conference has adopted the proposal made by Mr. Bradfield to construct a new road from the intersection of Dixon and Liverpool streets, thence on viaduct across the low-lying land reclaimed when Cockle Bay was filled in, and over the Darling Harbour railway, reaching the surface in Harris-street. From Harris-street to Wattle-street the road would be continued along Macarthur-street, which street would be cut down and regraded to a ruling grade not steeper than 1 in 30, whilst Bulwarra-road and James-street would be carried by bridge over the cut on of the regraded Macarthur-street. From Wattle-street the new roadway would be on the surface, following the route shown, and would junction with the Broadway beyond Glebe Point-road; Dixon-street to be widened and extended to the new avenue, so that the traffic from this busy commercial area would have ready access to the avenue.

On the western side of the viaduct, a low-level street between Dixon-street and Little Quay-street would connect the cross-streets, whilst William Henry-street would take the traffic from this low-level area across the railway to Harris-street. From the intersection of the new avenue and the Broadway a new road to be constructed through Victoria Park to Cleveland-street. A roadway was provided for some two years ago in the agreement arrived at between the City Council and the University Senate, the University exchanging some 7½ acres of land, including the ornamental lakes, for a similar area of land owned by the City Council. The facilities proposed should effectively relieve George-street of its present congestion from Market-street to Broadway.

Forecast of a Second Harbour Bridge

IN endeavouring to provide for the traffic of the future, the vehicular traffic in the central or shopping zone must as far as possible be confined to the vehicular traffic legitimate to that zone, and all extraneous vehicular traffic compelled to traverse the eastern and western zones. With the advent of the Sydney Harbour bridge, and probably for 25 years thereafter, all the traffic which now uses Macquarie, Elizabeth, or other streets in the eastern zone to proceed via the ferry to Milson’s Point will of necessity be compelled to use the western zone, as the vehicular ferry from Fort Macquarie to Milson’s Point will cease to run.

About twenty-five years after the first bridge is completed a second bridge will be required; it will probably be a suspension bridge carrying vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic, located between Kirribilli Point and Fort Macquarie; when this second bridge is constructed Macquarie-street will again carry traffic to and from North Sydney.

A detailed description of this plan appears in the accompanying article. The traffic avenues recommended are shaded. Sydney Mail 7 November 1923 p9. [This better quality version is from Bradfield's thesis.]

Future of the Cross Streets

UPON completion of the bridge now in contemplation, the traffic from the eastern, south-eastern, and southern suburbs will endeavour to reach the main bridge approach by the roads having the easiest grades, and the heaver and slower-moving vehicles will attempt to cross the city immediately north or south of the Town Hall; the choice of streets lies between Goulburn, Liverpool, Bathurst, and Park streets. One of these streets must be widened. Goulburn-street is narrow, crooked, has steep grades, and has no direct access to Taylor-square, which is the focal point of the eastern suburbs traffic, nor is the street axial to the traffic to and from the railway goods yard and the general scheme of wharfage. From a town planning aspect it would be highly desirable to remodel Goulburn-street. The property is of a poor class; it is a second-class residential district, which must become a commercial area. From Taylor-square the traffic would probably be best served by following Campbell-street to Riley-street, thence along a new road to be constructed through the centre of the area already resumed by the City Council for remodelling purposes to the intersection of Goulburn and Commonwealth streets, and thence the traffic could travel along Goulburn-street to the new avenue.

Liverpool-street via Oxford-street has good access to the eastern suburbs, but it is also not axial to the goods and shipping traffic, whilst the advent of two busy passenger stations under Hyde Park, with entrances from Liverpool-street, will throw a heavy pedestrian traffic along and across Liverpool-street, making it desirable to minimise the vehicular traffic in Liverpool-street if possible.

Park-street has good grades, and connects with York-street, which is one of the best graded north-south streets in the city; but the right-angled crossing of the heavy vehicular and tramway traffic in George-street, also the right-angled turn from Druitt-street into York-street, would seriously reduce the efficiency of this route as a traffic avenue, would unduly congest the traffic, and would be a constant source of danger and confusion, whilst via this route there can never be any adequate connection with the goods yard and wharves, as the grades in the east-west streets are too severe.

There now remains Bathurst-street. It has good grades, has direct access to the railway and shipping and will accommodate the traffic better than any of the other mentioned streets. It has the disadvantage, however, that it is not a through street, but by connecting it with Oxford-street and with William-street and Haig-avenue by two diagonals through the Hyde Park it will become a better traffic route than any of these streets.

Traffic Through Park

OBJECTIONS will be raised to taking these roads diagonally through the park – that the amenities of the park will be destroyed, and that as a park it will be useless. But this is far from being the case. The roadways will be 57ft wide, providing for six lines of traffic, and they would be in keeping with the boulevards and traffic avenues through the parks of Paris, Hyde Park, London, and Grand Central Park, New York. In Sydney the vehicular traffic would have a short run in pleasant surroundings, whilst the pedestrian traffic would have less dense vehicular traffic to cross at Park-street and Liverpool-street, as the vehicular traffic would be distributed over four avenues instead of two. The south-eastern corner of Park-street and College-street would be remodelled, and the wall removed; this wall is a danger to traffic, as it obstructs the view.

In considering the open-air space available in Sydney, the water space of the harbour, with its cool, refreshing influence, is very often overlooked. Within a two-mile radius of Central Station there are upwards of 1000 acres of open water space and this quite irrespective of parks.

North-South Traffic

AFTER noting the widening of Bathurst-street and the diagonal roads through Hyde Park, the north-south traffic must next be considered in relation to the bridge, the shipping, and the railway goods yard. This north-south traffic must be diverted from the shopping zone if possible. In the eastern zone, Macquarie-street and Elizabeth-street have been widened, and will accommodate much more traffic than they are called upon at present, whilst the abandonment of the vehicular ferry from Fort Macquarie to Milson’s Point will throw this traffic into the western zone in the near future.

In the western zone three streets require consideration – viz., York-street, Clarence-street, and Kent-street. The two first named have better grades than Kent-street, but are open to the very serious objection that they are dead end streets, effectively blocked from future extension by the Town Hall itself, and there is the further fatal objection that the traffic to and from the Darling Harbour goods yard and the wharves would have to negotiate the very steep side-streets, viz., Druitt-street, Market-street, King-street, and Erskine-street, or proceed via Bathurst-street into George-street, and thence into York or Clarence streets.

Kent-street, on the other hand, although it is not as well graded a street as York or Clarence street, can be regraded satisfactorily, can be extended through to George-street, and can be connected with the road across the reclamation at Darling Harbour, with a widened Bathurst-street, and with the new high-level road proposed from north-south street in the city can. It can also be satisfactorily connected with the avenue in approach to the Sydney Harbour bridge, and was therefore recommended to be widened to provide for six lines of vehicular traffic and two footpaths each 12 feet wide – i.e. 81 feet in all.

Bridge Crescent and Bridge to Balmain

THE committee did not consider that the extra traffic consequent on the construction of the bridge itself necessitates the widening of any main city street. They are of the opinion, after reviewing the whole matter of city congestion in conjunction with the construction of the bridge, that the widening of Kent-street on its western side as far as Liverpool-street and its extension to Goulburn-street as most desirable and necessary. The submitted plan will show how this extended Kent-street would, by a central traffic radiating point or circus, link Goulburn, Sussex, and Day streets with a new projected road through Ultimo for west-bound traffic.

By the bridge head crescent York, Clarence and Kent streets can be most satisfactorily connected to the bridge approach, and when the Sydney Harbour bridge and the bridge to Balmain are constructed the crescent will distribute the traffic along these high-level streets as efficiently as possible.

The widening of York-street to 81ft from Grosvenor-street to Wynyard-street can readily be done at the present time, as St. Stephen’s Church is about to be rebuilt; the Government owns the land at the corner of Margaret and York streets; the remaining land is portion of Lang and Wynyard-square parks, some Government land in the Rocks area, and a strip from St Phillip’s Church, which is necessary to realign York-street on the western boundary.

Watson-road will form an adequate getaway for the traffic wishing to reach Miller’s Point and the Quay.

Minor street alterations necessary to facilitate traffic are the widening of the roadway to 76ft at the Registrar General’s corner and Hyde Park. The City Council has approved of extending Elizabeth-street to Bent-street.

When the city railway is constructed at the Quay, Barton-street will be closed, but Alfred-street will be extended to George-street, whilst Pitt-street will be widened as shown.

The crescent connecting the avenue from the bridge can be treated architecturally, whilst the two areas of land available on either side of Clarence-street can be formed into two beautiful parklets. These would more than compensate for any land taken from Wynyard-square and Lang Parks, whilst the crescent could be made one of the beauty spots of the city.

The catchment area of the stream was 178 acres; the banks of the stream were thickly wooded; that portion of the catchment bounded by King, George, Park and Castlereagh street was a spongy swamp; it is now practically the only level area of land in the heart of the city, and this is the reason that King, Market and Park streets have easier east-west grades than the streets north of King-street. It was this spongy swamp which enabled the Tank Stream to supply the settlement with water until the year 1837, when the population was about 10,000. The first tank (hence the name Tank Stream) was excavated in the bed in November, 1791. It held 7976 gallons. Areas of the Quay and Darling Harbour are level, but these are reclaimed lands. Where the ladies of Sydney now meander to purchase ribbons and laces and other feminine frivolities, their dusky sisters gathered bells and boronia on this one-time spongy flat. Sydney Mail 7 November 1923 p10

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