The tunnel boring machine for the Metro under the harbour was named Kathleen. Few people in Sydney now would know who Kathleen was, but in the early 1920s everyone knew Kathleen Muriel Butler, Confidential Secretary to John Bradfield building the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A remarkable young woman, the more so for her times, Butler played a vital role in the bridge construction both in Sydney and in London where she was sent to represent Bradfield and the NSW government in their dealings with Dorman Long and Co, the British contractors for the work.
Butler and Bradfield had met in 1910 when she was 19 and in her he must have seen the capability he needed in an assistant, and he went out of his way in the next decade to encourage her and
develop her talent. He is on record as saying that he did not think he could have built the bridge without her. During his prolonged absence abroad in 1922 she remained in Sydney managing those tendering to build the bridge and supporting the NSW Parliament considering the Bridge Act.
books published – The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridges, By Muscle of Man and Horse, building the railway under Sydney 1916-1932, from Eddy Avenue to Menin Gate – the Great Sydney Station Honour Board, The Timber Truss Railway Bridges of NSW, and Steam at its Pinnacle – the photography of Norman Joseph Read. His current research effort is the centenary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge whose construction began in 1922.
The Hawkesbury River Railway Bridges received the Colin Crisp Award for documentation of heritage from Engineers Australia in 2019.
Bill was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 2013 for service to people with disability through the charity Technical Aid to the Disabled. He is a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia.
He has recently become a volunteer guide at the Australian National Maritime Museum and joined their speakers’ panel.