150th Anniversary

New biography of the engineer who changed Melbourne

William Thwaites, the engineer who oversaw the development of Melbourne’s water and sewerage systems, hugely improving the lives of everyday Melbournians, is the subject of a new biography to be launched in November.

Thwaites was a graduate of the Melbourne School of Engineering, and one of the first engineers to be educated entirely in the colony of Victoria.

Dr Robert La Nauze, himself a graduate of the Department of Chemical Engineering in 1968, has written the biography: Engineer to Marvellous Melbourne: the life and times of William Thwaites, which will be published next month by Australian Scholarly Publishing.

William Thwaites engineered the Melbourne sewerage system, overcoming technical challenges with such efficiency and foresight that the scheme served Melbournians unchanged for the next 60 years.

During a severe drought, he diverted water across the Great Dividing Range and into the City’s supply and undertook extensive swamp reclamation that changed the face of Melbourne.

Tragically, Thwaites died in 1907 while nearing the completion of the sewerage system and his remarkable achievements have been largely forgotten.

Further information about Dr La Nauze’s book will be available from Australian Scholarly Publishing from mid-November 2011.

Dr Robert La Nauze wrote a short profile of William Thwaites, available via The Melbourne School of Engineering 150th Anniversary Blog.

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