William Thwaites engineered the Melbourne sewerage system with meticulous and untiring attention. He overcame technical challenges with such efficiency and foresight that the scheme served Melburnians unchanged for the next 60 years. During its construction, he responded to unremitting and unfounded criticism. Tragically, Thwaites died in 1907 while nearing the completion of this great colonial project and his remarkable achievements have been largely forgotten.
From artisanal London to pioneering Melbourne, the book charts his family’s path to religious dissent and civic action that engendered in Thwaites a strong sense of public service. In the 1880s, Thwaites stood apart from the land-boomers of Marvellous Melbourne and dedicated himself to much-needed sanitary reform. During a time of severe drought, he diverted water across the Great Dividing Range and into Melbourne’s water supply and undertook extensive swamp reclamation that changed the face of Melbourne.
Engineer to Marvellous Melbourne provides a compelling account of the evolution of Melbourne’s water and sewerage systems and the life and achievements of a great Australian engineer who, in triumphing over difficulties, left an enduring impact on Melbourne.