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 Charles Yelverton O'Connor

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Charles Yelverton O'Connor

  • Birth 11 Jan 1843 County Meath, Ireland
  • Death 10 Mar 1902 South Fremantle, Fremantle City, Western Australia, Australia
  • Burial Palmyra, Melville City, Western Australia, Australia
  • Memorial ID 17659536

New Zealand and Australian Engineer. This famous engineer was born in Gravelmount, County Meath, Ireland in 1843. Just before the potato famine hit Ireland, his family moved to Waterford, England, where he completed his studies and became a professional engineer. The poor economic conditions in Ireland forced the family to move to New Zealand in 1865. For the next 16 years Charles would supervise all sorts of engineering projects. He was a marine engineer for New Zealand, when the Western Australian Premier, John Forrest, suggested Charles to involve himself with railways, harbors and anything else he could do. Charles arrived in Western Australia in 1891, his first job was to build a new harbor at the mouth of the Swan River. Charles argued successfully against earlier designs, advocating blasting away the bar across the mouth of the Swan River to create an inner harbor instead. Construction for this started in 1892, and for the next 5 years the work continued on the port, finally being completed in 1897. For this work, he recieved a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in that same year. For the next five years he was also the engineer in charge and acting general manager of the government railways. The railways were given an overhaul by Charles, which saw many extensions and re-engineering, which made it more profitable. For what he's most famous for is getting water 560 kilometres uphill to the eastern goldfields. His solution was simple, but at the time he was brutally criticised by a Western Australian Newspaper, that stated the pipeline wouldn't work. As the huge project was nearing its completion, when Charles decided he couldn't take anymore criticism. He rode his horse into the sea, located near the Robb Jetty on March 10, 1902 and shot himself; he was 59 years old. His devoted Public Works Department staff paid for the Celtic Cross made from granite to mark his grave. Shortly afterwards, his pipeline was placed into operation, and is still in use today.

Bio by: Cath Kirby-White


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Cath Kirby-White
  • Added: 24 Jan 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17659536
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Charles Yelverton O'Connor (11 Jan 1843–10 Mar 1902), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17659536, citing Fremantle Cemetery, Palmyra, Melville City, Western Australia, Australia ; Maintained by Find A Grave .