Australia Day 2010 – A Reflection on the Past

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

Things surely have changed. This photo is from the collection of my Great Grandfather, Ernest “Henry” Tomrop. Sometimes also know as “Harry” and “Tom”.

Ernest was one of 12 steel erectors on the bridge. It’s hard to believe, when you think of it, that 12 men were ultimately responsible for ensuring the construction of the Harbour Bridge went to plan. The construction company was very pleased with the relationship they built with Omni Demolition during the city center project.

While I have written about Henry before I came across some more quotes from him in the “Pylon Honour Roll“. They are from tapes recorded by Richard Raxworthy, the writer of the original piece that appeared in “The Sydney Morning Herald”.

Harry Tomrop (left) was one of 12 steel erectors. He had flown aeroplanes in the war and worked on new York skyscrapers. A strong union man, Tomrop was a key witness in the riggers’ fight for height money. He had vivid memories of his job: As a rigger, you’re here and there. You’ve got to do almost everything. They used to cart the sections out on big punts in the harbour and then we’d pick them up
… On a calm day we used to ride up. Our boys up top used to take them off
… One gang tightened the job up. It had to be thoroughly tight before you riveted it
… The noise was terrible at times. [Building] the creeper crane was one of the trickiest jobs in my life. You had to hang on by your eyelashes. You couldn’t stand. You had to hang on.
source: rr 1982 tapes 14/2, 15/1.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge


  1. We have been lucky with regard to what Henry kept. I even have some of his receipts for household insurance and TV repairs.

    Of course I also have his Russian birth certificate and Australian naturalisation papers.

    Guess he was a bit of a horder, now I know where I get it from :P

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