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Alexander Bain Moncrieff

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Alexander Bain Moncrieff (1845-1928), Irish civil engineer who worked in Australia.

1845 May 22nd. Born in Dublin the son of Alexander Rutherford Moncrieff, although his family was of Scottish ancestry.

He was educated principally at the Belfast Academy, and at 15 was articled to C. Miller, engineer in Dublin to the Great Southern and Western Railway. His seven years apprenticeship included manual work in the blacksmith's shop, and he obtained there an understanding of his fellow workers which was valuable in later years.

He was afterwards employed at the Glasgow locomotive works for two years, and subsequently at Dublin again, and in private practice in Hertfordshire, England.

In November 1874 he obtained a position as engineering draftsman with the South Australian government, and arrived at Adelaide in February 1875.

1877 He married Mary Benson, daughter of Edward Sunter, who survived him with a son and a daughter.

In 1879 he was made a resident engineer on the South Australian Railways, and took charge of the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta line as it was gradually extended.

In 1888 Moncrieff became engineer in chief of South Australia at a salary of £1,000 a year, and a little later the departments of waterworks, sewerage, harbours and jetties, were placed under his charge. He was elected M.Inst.C.E., England, in 1888, and America in 1894. He was chairman of the supply and tender board, and afterwards president of the public service association. He was appointed railway commissioner of South Australia in 1909 but also did important work outside that department. He was responsible for the planning of the outer harbour, the Bundaleer and Barossa water scheme, and the Happy Valley waterworks.

He retired from the position of railway commissioner in 1916, and took pride in the fact that during the seven years he was in charge, no serious accident occurred for which any railway employee could be blamed. Moncrieff's motto had always been "safety first". He was also chairman of the Municipal Tramways Trust for about 12 years, retiring in 1922, and he had much to do with the early stages of the Murray Water scheme, though the actual work was not begun in his time. He was also responsible for the south-eastern drainage scheme.

1909 He was created C.M.G.

1928 April 11th. Died at Adelaide.


1929 Obituary [1]

ALEXANDER BAIN MONCRIEFF, C.M.G., son of Alexander Rutherford Moncrieff, and brother of the late J. C. B. Moncrieff, M. Inst. C.E., was born at Dublin on the 22nd May, 1845.

He was educated at Belfast Academy, and in 1860 entered the Inchicore works of the Great Southern and Western Railway as a pupil of Mr. W. Miller, completing his articles under Mr. Alexander McDonnell, M. Inst. C.E.

In 1866 he entered the works of Messrs. Dubs and Company, at Glasgow, being engaged upon the design of locomotives.

He returned in 1867 to the Inchicore works, and was put in charge of out-door works and buildings.

In 1869 he was appointed locomotive foreman to the Irish North Western Company, and from 1871 to 1874 he was engaged in private practice and in the management of a machine shop in Hertfordshire.

He entered the service of the South Australian Government in 1874 as a draughtsman under Mr. H. C. Mais, M.Inst.C.E., the Engineer-in-Chief.

During 1878 and 1879 he assisted Major-General P. H. Scratchley, R.E., Assoc. Inst. C.E., in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, and acted as constructing engineer of fortifications in South Australia.

Returning to railway work in 1879, he became resident engineer on the Great Northern Railway, South Australia, being in charge of the extension of the line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta.

On the retirement of Mr. Mais in 1888 he was appointed to succeed him as Engineer-in-Chief, South Australia, and he held that office for 20 years, being responsible for all harbours, jetties, and lighthouses, and many other public works, including the Outer Harbour, Adelaide, the Happy Valley waterworks, and the Rarossa waterworks.

He was Chairman of the South Australia Supply and Tender Board from 1895 to 1899, and served as a Commissioner of the South Australian Railways from 1909 to 1916.

He was appointed Chairman of the Adelaide Municipal Tramways Trust at its inception in 1907, and held that office until 1922, when he finally relinquished public duties. Companionship of the Order of St. Michael and St. George was conferred on him in 1909.

He was elected a member of The Institution in 1888, and served as a representative Member of the Council in Australia from 1908 to 1910. He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and a Past-President of the Public Service Association of South Australia.

He married in 1877 Mary Bonson, daughter of Mr. Sunter and is survived by his widow, a son, and a daughter.

He died at his residence in Rose Park, Adelaide, on the 11th April, 1928, after a short illness.


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