Engineering Heritage Victoria – Talk

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Engineering Heritage Victoria
Three New Zealand Engineers in Colonial Victoria – Brees, Holmes, and Richardson


Ken McInnes, Retired Civil Engineer

In early 1853 in Victoria, Australia, three engineers: Samuel Charles Brees (1810–1865), George Holmes (c1822–1877) and Edward Richardson (c1831–1915) came together in the design and construction of “Brees Bridge,” a significant large Howe through-truss timber road bridge over the Maribyrnong River at Keilor, on the main road to the goldfields.

These engineers are well known in New Zealand: Brees as engineer/surveyor/artist for the New Zealand Company 1842–1845 and Holmes and Richardson as the contractors for the very significant Christchurch to Lyttelton Railway line and tunnel, 1861–1867. But their engineering work in Victoria is not well known.

In 1853, Brees was briefly the first Victorian Colonial Engineer, and between 1853 and 1861, Holmes and Richardson were the contractors for many significant engineering works in Victoria: the first large laminated timber arch bridge (Johnston Street); the first large iron box girder railway bridge (Maribyrnong River); and other works (Yarra River Wharves, South Yarra Waterworks, Essendon Railway, and Brighton Railway).

This presentation will explore the interrelationships between these engineers and their contemporaries, describe their significant engineering works, and fill some biographical gaps about their lives in Victoria.

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