Engineering Heritage

Last updated: 12:34:56   07-08-09

Links (please note, to follow these links - you will be leaving this site).

The National Archives UK has a large number of Audio Clips available for download.   Worth looking at are :

     God’s Wonderful Railway : an audio presentation about the GWR and its engineer – IK Brunel.

     The Parish (administration & records) :  Originating in the UK, parts of the Parish system were transported to Australia and survive to this day in the form of original land subdivision – the Parish Plans.  This Audio Clip is an interesting background for anyone curious as to why or how, we came to use the system in the first place.

     Visit and navigate to “Latest Podcasts”.  The Audio Clip (MP3 format) should be downloadable from the site.

Ruth Belville – The Greenwich Time Lady :

A  fascinating Audio Clip about the conveying of accurate “time” around the businesses of London from 1892 until the Second World War.  You can listen online or download the MP3 Clip at

Engineers in Australia – a Professional Ethos

The latest book by Dr Brian E Lloyd (Past National President – Institution of Engineers (Australia) covers the heritage of the Profession in Australia from the early 1800s to the present day.  It can be download (free) at

Ford Global Challenge winner : The Deakin University (Geelong Campus) “Model T2” Project

To commemorate the Centenary of the Ford Model T, the Ford Company issued a global challenge for the design of a Model T for the 21st Century.  The award has been won by a multi-faculty team of students from Deakin University (Geelong).  To find out more, visit


Past Guest Speakers' Program sessions ...

John Monash - engineering a business (21 August 2008)

A business-oriented look at Monash's engineering prior to WWI via chronology and themes.  Aspects included acquisition of knowledge and experience; partnership with JTN Anderson; formation of companies in Victoria and South Australia; products; competitive edge; intellectual property; financial backing; turnover and profits; staffing; marketing; competition and opposition; set-backs and successes.

The Guest Speaker: Dr Alan Holgate.

Alan worked for the Dept of Main Roads in NSW and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority before joining the staff of Monash University.  He taught undergraduate courses in analysis and design of structures and a post-graduate course aimed at helping structural engineers to work with architects.  His published work covers non-computational aspects of structural design; appreciation of architecture; and the oeuvre of leading German designer Jörg Schlaich.  For more than a decade he has been mining the technical archives of Sir John Monash and his Reinforced Concrete & Monier Pipe Construction Co

Further material on John Monash and his engineering activities are available on Alan Holgate’s “John Monash” site at

Video Streaming, Audio Clip and Show Notes available here - soon.

The Path to Colossus: an historical look at the development of the electronic computer (19 June 2008)

During World War 2, Germany gradually increased the complexity of the methods used to encode communications between its armed forces. This talk will review some of the steps taken to decode intercepted messages, leading to the building of Colossus, the world's first programmable electronic computer, at Bletchley Park in February 1944. A videotape will be shown of a recently completed replica of a Mk 2 Colossus. The talk will briefly describe why Colossus was needed, and its significance.


The Guest Speakers Dr Peter Thorne and John McCutchan.


Peter Thorne worked on Australia’s first computer CSIRAC in the early 1960’s when he was an undergraduate physics student. In 1996, while he was Head of Computer Science (in the Faculty of Engineering) at the University of Melbourne, he initiated a project to recover CSIRAC from the Museum store, document its history, and ensure it was displayed and recognised as an icon of Australian engineering achievement. Peter, who has had a lifelong interest in the history of technology, has been fascinated by the Bletchley Park story since its disclosure in the mid 1970s. He visited Bletchley and saw the Colossus re-build project in 1998, when he visited UK to give a paper on CSIRAC.


John McCutchan is an engineer with a long standing interest in the history of electrical engineering and its preservation and display. Particularly tantalising has been the veil of total secrecy which lasted for 30 years over Britain's World War 2 code breaking "Station X". Some aspects of its operations have now appeared in books and in a rather fanciful film "Enigma". Much more is now on display at Britain's National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park. On a recent visit there John was thrilled to see that after 14 years of work, a small team of engineers has just completed a working replica of the historic Colossus computer.

Downloads available :      Show Notes (Slides & Images).

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As Perfect as Possible: the History of Melbourne’s Cable Trams 1885-1940 (Guest Speakers Series 22 May 2008)

The talk commenced with a brief outline of early tramways around the world and a history of Melbourne's street public transport before the arrival of trams and went on to explain why and how the first cable lines were developed in America and New Zealand and how the technology was employed in Australia. Various engineering aspects of the track formation, the all important cables and the magnificent machinery that powered them were included.


Our Guest Speaker: Robert Green is an architect who has practiced in both the private and public sectors. He is currently an architect with Heritage Victoria. Robert's interest in the history of Melbourne's trams stems from an extensive involvement in heritage matters. Almost 20 years ago, he published a history of the Box Hill & Doncaster Tramway (Australia's first electric tramway). Robert is a life member and former councillor of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria. He is also a life member of the National Trust.


Downloads available : Show Notes (13 MB).


Producer Gas & the Australian Motorist (Guest Speakers Series 22 Feb 2008)

This session was recorded for Video Streaming as part of the Engineers Australia (Victoria Division) policy to enhance the availability of selected topics to regional groups and the wider engineering profession. Click HERE to go to the Streaming Link  When you get there, scroll down the linked page to the Producer Gas Talk. Broadband video streaming, Dial-up Audio and a downloadable MP3 version of the actual presentation are available via the link.

The Speaker : Don Bartlett, Chairman of Engineering Heritage Victoria. Don is an engineer in private practice.

Downloads available :

During the Talk, several historical papers on Gas Producer Units were cited and are now available on-line : Rennie (1930) IE Aust Paper   Woods (1939) IE Aust Paper

The talk was revised and presented to the Sydney Engineering Heritage Committee on 2 Jun 2008.

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History of Holden & Vehicle Safety - Thursday 16 August 2007

The talk covers the history of Holden, early research into the causes of injury, the history of safety research at Holden, crash mechanisms, the history of computer simulation, general aspects of road safety, presents some insights into the risks of driving on Australian roads and concludes with some strong advice as to how to minimise these risks.  The talk is highly relevant to any driver - or pedestrian - over 20 years of age!


Guest Speaker : Dr Laurence John Sparke, OAM : Laurie Sparke is an engineering graduate from RMIT, Deakin and Melbourne Universities as well as the Kettering University in Michigan USA.  He has studied and worked in America and Germany.  As Director of Holden Innovation, he was responsible for the development of new technology including vehicle safety systems, IT, environmentally friendly powertrains and virtual engineering.  Over the past twenty years, Laurie has led the development of world-leading occupant protection systems, starting with the release of an Australian designed airbag system in 1995.  This work culminated in protection strategies for side impact crashes.  All of these achievements have been documented in a recently published book - “Vehicle Design for Minimum Societal Harm”.  The contributions of Laurie Sparke to vehicle safety have been recognised by the awarding of the Medal of the Order of Australia and the SAE - Ralph H Isbrandt Automotive Safety Engineering Award.


Downloads available : Audio (11 MB) and Show Notes (8 MB).  Please note that the audio levels of some segments of the Audio Clip have been boosted to compensate for unavoidable recording hitches and to maintain the best possible listening volume.


Colonial Engineer Scratchley - 21 June 2007

Captain Peter Scratchley RE served in Victoria in the early 1860s as the Colonial Engineer.  He had a distinguished career in Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and the UK (including service during the Indian Mutiny and the Crimea War).  He died in 1885 with the rank of Major General.  This talk examines what is known of Scratchley’s early career as an Engineer, his later influence on the defence schemes of the Australian colonies, some anecdotal insights into the Scratchley approach to duty, with asides into the views of his contemporaries.

It is part of an ongoing research project into the engineers who were involved in early colonial development. Comments and contributions are most welcome and should be directed to with <Scratchley> in the Subject Line.

The Guest Speaker for this session was Major General Michael O'Brien CSC (ret). Mike graduated from Duntroon in 1968 and was allocated to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He served as a platoon commander and intelligence officer of 7 Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in Vietnam from 1970-71 and later wrote the battalion history. His military specializations included acquisition and logistics. He commanded the Army Technology and Engineering Agency and before he retired in 2002, was the Army's Support Commander. He has extensive Board experience in credit unions, runs an Antiquarian Bookshop near Glenferrie Station and lectures aboard Cruise Ships.  In October 2007, Mike represented the Chief of Army at the re-burial of five Australians killed in the Third Battle of Ypres (1917).

Downloads available :          Shownotes (PDF - 7 MB)

The Murray Darling Basin - the History behind how we got to Where we are Now! - 19 April 2007

This is the audio of a Talk given to EHV by John Forrest MP FIE(Aust) - the Federal Member for Mallee (photo at left).  John was born on the Murray at Red Cliffs and holds a Master of Science and Bachelor of Engineering.  Before entering parliament in 1993, he was a successful consulting engineer with offices in Swan Hill and Mildura.  He served a term as a Swan Hill City Councillor and was a member of the local Water Board.  John is one of the few professionally qualified engineers in any Australian Parliament and arguably the only one in Federal Parliament - as he explains toward the end of his talk.  This talk was given in the evening of 19 April 2007, a few hours after Prime Minister John Howard's major announcement on Murray Darling Basin Irrigation Allocations and the contingency planning report relating to the water shortages in the Murray-Darling Basin

Downloads available : Shownotes

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Engineering Heritage Information : 

Colonial Engineers Project (Municipal List)

EHV March 2008 Newsletter   EHV Jan 2008 Newsletter   EHV Sep 2007 Newsletter    EHV July 2007 Newsletter    EHV May 2007 Newsletter    EHV March 2007 Newsletter   

Extracts from Articles of Interest

        Commonwealth Engineer:

1 Sep 1926 Edition : Determination of River Discharge                A Graphical Method for Sewerage Pumping III            Kyneton Water Supply       SA Water & Sewerage Systems      IE Aust Notes (260901)      CE Editorial Notes etc (260901)       Victorian Road Tests                Mechanical Spraying of Roads         Miscellaneous CE(260901)               Water Purification at Swan Hill

And from earlier editions of the same journal : The Maribyrnong River Railway Bridge (1914)       The Moorabool Viaduct (1918)

        Journal of the Inst of Engineers Aust - 1931

John Monash Obituary   Monash Military Photo-clips  (The) Humphrey Pump    Hawthorn Bridge Reconstruction    The Mining of Brown Coal (Bridges)

        Ballarat Engineering Heritage Conference Papers 1998 (Authors names in brackets).

JT Noble Anderson (Lloyd)    Gold Dredging (Ralph)

        2nd National Conference on Engineering Heritage - Melbourne - 1985.

Economic Preservation of Engineering Heritage (Butcher)    Engineering Heritage (Mining - Davey)    History of Engineering at Canterbury Uni (NZ - Mullenger)    19th C Aust Engineering Societies (Haas)    Education of Engineers pre 1940 (Fergusson)    Development of Sovereign Hill (McCarthy)    Lessons from the Past (Milner)    Treatment of Artefacts (Kentish)    Development of Melb Engineerium (Atkinson)    Victorian Engineering Heritage 1842-1942 (Wieckhardt)  Early Automatic Telephony (Moynihan)     Construction of Fitzroy Dock (Balint)    Engineering considerations in an Historical Argument (Jones)    Monier & anti Monier - Early RC in Aust (Lewis)    Telford, Stephenson & Brunel (Staughton)    The 1st Sydney - Brisbane Steamship Service (Whitmore)    The Woomera Story (Frost)    First Australian Aeroplane & Engine (Daw)    Mr Watts Stupendous Steam Engine (Crossley)   Role of Gov in EH Conservation - Doring 1985

These scanned versions of the 1985 Conference Papers have resulted from a collaborative effort with John Metcalf.

        Engineering Heritage Conference 1992.

Conference Papers List    Oral History & Engineering Heritage (Raxworthy)    Engineering & Port of Melb (Milner)    Echuca Bridge Footway & Lattice (Fredericks)    Duck Reach Hydro (McFie)    Cowra Bride Preservation (Fraser)        Aust Databases & Engg Heritage (Cummings)    Moorina Power Development (Smith)    Recording Engineering Heritage (Daw)    Not only the Hardware (Doubleday)    Heritage Talking (Longworth)    Ballarat Railway Station & Yards (Martin)    Callington Mill (Murphy)    Sydney Water Board (Longworth)    Tas Royal Engineers Building (Spratt)    Pt Waratah BHP Works (Collins)    Historic Bridges NZ (Thornton)    Heritage Buildings on Reactive Clays (Jordan)    Demolition of Union Hill Quartz Roasting Mills (Supple)    Aspects of Victorian Torpedo Warfare (Cahill)    Mt Morgan - a new beginning (Boyle)

These scanned versions of the 1992 Conference Papers have also resulted from a collaborative effort with John Metcalf.

        Transactions of the Institution of Engineers (Aust) - 1934 - Marking 100 Years of Engineering in Victoria

Public Services    Metro Roads & Bridges    Country Roads & Bridges    Railways    Tramways    Ports  Air Transport    Melb Water Supply    Melb  Drains & Sewers    Rural Water Supply    Irrigation Water  Gas    Electricity        Communications    Industrial Development    Mining Engineering

100 Years of Engineering in Victoria

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The following files are the first instalment in a series that will ultimately cover the Development of the Melbourne Metropolitan Electricity Distribution System between the years 1900 to 1950.  They are from a recent opportunistic find in an archival draw associated with the former State Electricity Commission of Victoria.  The “original” documents have been well kept but are hard to read and difficult to scan.  The first two files cover the Story of the Richmond Power Station and the Distribution Network development up to 1905.  Others will be added ASAP.


The Story of Richmond Power Station (SECV)     Development of the Melbourne Metro Electricity Distribution System – Introduction (SECV)


Other miscellaneous material ….


John Monash Presidential Address to Victorian Institute of Engineers (1913)


The Kernot Medal    The Kernot Medallists    Professionalism (Lloyd - 1973)   Victorian Building Stones (Mines Dept 1949)    Laurence Wackett      Fishermen's Bend    Peter Brock & his Austin   Plan Printing     National Engineering Heritage Conference (Nov 2007)


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Links : John Monash Engineering (Holgate Website)     More Engineering Heritage information (McInnes Website)      Melb Uni Kernot Medal Site   

Just for Fun

The 2 Stoke Engine    The Dam Builders    How did It get There?    In the beginning...


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