Francis De Groot's Sword

Francis De Groot's Sword
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When right-wing agitator Francis De Groot upstaged the 1932 opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and sliced through the ceremonial ribbon, the antique sword he wielded cemented its place as an Australian national treasure.

Part of a monarchist militia called the New Guard, Irish-born De Groot was protesting about a perceived communist push led by working-class hero and nationalist NSW Premier Jack Lang.

The ribbon was retied and cut by Lang, but the story didn’t end there. A lengthy court battle followed, which resulted in De Groot being found guilty and fined £5 for trespassing. He immediately counter-sued for wrongful arrest and was awarded compensation.

The legal battle established that De Groot, not Lang, had legally opened the bridge, which is now included in the National Heritage List. His sword is held by a private collector.

Did you know:

  • Francis De Groot, the man who gatecrashed the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, was an Irish immigrant and successful antiques dealer.
  • When Jack Lang, the Premier of New South Wales, announced that he, rather than Australia’s Governor-General, would officially open the new Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932, the right-wing monarchist group calling itself the New Guard planned to kidnap him.

Australia's Heritage: National Treasures with Chris Taylor is also available for purchase from the NFSA Online Shop.