Kiwi women were also build­ing bridges

Central Leader - - News - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

When four English en­gi­neers came to New Zealand in the late 1950s to help con­struct the Auck­land Har­bour Bridge, three of them found more than they bar­gained for.

Peter Loveys, now in his 70s, was one of the four and worked on the land­mark struc­ture for nearly two years.

He says three of them mar­ried New Zealand girls.

“We found the girls ir­re­sistible,” he laughs.

This month marks the Auck­land Har­bour Bridge’s 50th an­niver­sary.

Mr Loveys still drives over the har­bour bridge and has com­pleted the bridge climb with his son.

He only drives over the cen­tre lanes be­cause they are part of the orig­i­nal bridge that he helped con­struct and his chil­dren call it dad’s bridge.

“It didn’t have the clip-ons in those days,” he says.

Mr Loveys came to Auck­land from Sus­sex, Eng­land, when he was 22 to work on the bridge shortly af­ter construction be­gan in 1957.

He was in charge of pier four, with sev­eral piers over the span num­ber­ing from one on the North Shore side.

He tells of the big steel trusses which were built once the piers were com­plete.

“It was a big top heavy looking steel struc­ture.”

Mr Loveys says in Novem­ber 1958 a storm in­ter­rupted the process of float­ing a truss out into po­si­tion.

“We had the an­chors down but it was slip­ping, the wind was so strong.”

An Auck­land tug, the William C Daldy, helped hold the steel struc­ture still un­til the storm had passed.

Garth Har­ris was an en- gi­neer­ing stu­dent when he worked on the bridge for six weeks in 1957 be­fore be­ing fired.

He was one of a group of work­ers to be fired af­ter an in­dus­trial dis­pute, one of many dis­putes dur­ing the bridge’s construction. But he will be around for the 50th an­niver­sary.

“For a bridge that has been around 50 years and been ser­viced, it is do­ing pretty well.”

Mr Loveys would like to see a cel­e­bra­tion to mark the bridge’s an­niver­sary but the New Zealand Trans­port Agency will be hav­ing low key cel­e­bra­tions, say­ing that dif­fi­cult eco­nomic times mean spending out­side of core re­spon­si­bil­i­ties is lim­ited.

Photo: AMELIA JA­COB­SEN

Looking back: Peter Loveys re­mem­bers a storm which hit while en­gi­neers floated large steel trusses out into place to com­plete the bridge.

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