This badge was presented to Alfred Culver, a rigger on the bridge's construction team, for his participation in the opening pageant. It is a significant reminder of the importance the Sydney Harbour Bridge had in people's lives, not just on the opening day but during the many years of its construction. The 'curve' dominated the skyline for many years and was a focus of the souvenirs produced when it finally did open.
The English company Dorman, Long and co succssfully tendered to construct an arch bridge with abutment towers faced with granite masonry for a cost of 4,217,722 pounds. Construction began in 1923 and on Saturday 19 March 1932 the Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened. The state government declared the 19th a public holiday. A voluntary group the Sydney Harbour Bridge Celebrations Committee organised a week of 'pageantry and display that would advertise to the world the faith and pride we have in our State and Capital'. In October 1931 the Committee declared that the opening 'will form a landmark in Australia's national history and , together with the subsequent festivities, will leave a deep impression on the minds of the children ... more particularly as they will play such an important part in the Pageantry and Church Thanksgiving Services.'
The program included sporting competitions, art exhibitions, balls and surf carnivals. Some 52,000 school children walked over the bridge three days vefore the opening. and over a million people crossed the bridge in the first 24 hours after opening. The official opening attracted thousands of specatators. An estimated 750,000 lined the city streets along the path of the pageant and gathered on Observatory Hill.
Governor Sir Philip Game opened the official proceedings at 10 am with a congratulatory message from King George V. The Premier, the Hon JT Lang, made a speech but before he could cut the ribbon, Captain de Groot of the New Guard rode up and slashed it exclaiming 'in the name of the decent and loyal citizens of New South Wales I declare this bridge open!' The ribbon was retied and Lang opened the Bridge. The official party then motored to the northern side of the bridge where the Mayor of North Sydney cut another ribbon. A two kilometre long Historic Pageant with 27 floats, military bands, war veterans and boy scouts proceeded across the Bridge. The pageant was led by the Young Australia League Band followed by 656 specially selected children from regional NSW schools, 100 bridge workers and a 'party of 25 picked Aborigines'. Once this was complete the public were allowed to stream across. On 21 March 1932 the 'Daily Telegraph' reported that 'over 1,000,000 people in trains, trams, vehicles and on foot crossed the newly opened Harbour Bridge during the first 24 hours'. In the evening a Venetian Carnival of illuminated boats concluded with a 20 minute firework display.
The day the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened became an important marker in many people's lives and even ephemeral reminders such as this badge were treasured.
Caroline Mackaness (ed), 'Bridging Sydney', Historic Houses Trust, 2006
Peter Spearritt, 'The Sydney Harbour Bridge: A life', George Allen & Unwin, 1982