In March 1932, 60,000 school children were given the chance to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, days ahead of its official opening (19 March). One of those children, 8-year-old Kenneth Jones, was selected by The Melbourne Herald newsreel team to climb to the top of the brand new bridge. The fearless boy doesn't seem to be wearing a safety harness, as he says to the camera that 'they look like ants down there!'.
We included this film in our Harbour Bridge curated collection. On 13 March, Seven News Sydney ran a story about our online exhibition, including this remarkable footage. Journalist Chris Maher asked the public to help us find little Kenneth Jones and, less than 12 hours later, the Jones family contacted us!
It’s not every day that you’re watching the news and a family member pops up.
Unfortunately, Kenneth passed away in the 1980s, but he is survived by his wife Maureen, their five children, and several grandchildren. One of his granddaughters, Tahlia Jones, sent us an email:
'It’s not every day that you’re watching the news and a family member pops up. It’s sad that he isn’t here to share his experience with you guys. As a granddaughter of Kenneth Jones, seeing this footage makes my heart melt. It’s a shame I never got to meet him, so seeing the film is amazing! My brother, who looks up to my pop so much, is excited about all of this, and I’m sure my other cousins and relatives are happy to know about this.'
We also spoke with Maureen Jones, who said: 'I was a bit shocked. I knew about the Harbour Bridge story, but it sort of took me by shock when I saw it on TV last night. It was a surprise.'
We're very excited that the Jones family were able to see their beloved Kenneth again, as a young child, doing something absolutely amazing. It's a reminder of the power of the NFSA collection, and the thousands of stories preserved in it.