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Thomas William Keele

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Thomas William Keele (1850-1927)


1928 Obituary [1]

THOMAS WILLIAM KEELE was born on the 23rd December, 1850, at Mudgee, New South Wales.

He was educated at Macquarie Fields, N.S.W., and in 1868 entered the Harbours and Rivers Branch of the Public Works Department of New South Wales as a cadet under Mr. E. O. Moriarty, M. Inst. C.E., then Engineer-in-Chief.

Three years later he was appointed Assistant Surveyor, being engaged upon surveys of the Murray river. He qualified as a Licensed Surveyor of the Colony in 1873, and during the following 2 years he assisted Mr. C. W. Darley, M. Inst. C.E., then Resident Engineer of the Harbour Works, Newcastle. He was subsequently employed as Engineering Surveyor, being in charge of all the principal surveys for improving the navigation of the rivers and bar harbours of the Colony, military surveys for the defence of Sydney harbour, and surveys for the sewerage of country towns and of Sydney, including the trial survey for the Bondi tunnel.

New works for the water-supply of Sydney were begun in 1880, and he was appointed Resident Engineer for the headworks, including the Nepean and Cataract tunnels. This work he described in a Paper on “The Alignment of the Nepean tunnel, New South Wales.”

Two years later he became District Engineer for the twelve tunnels on the line, which aggregated 11; miles in length, and were constructed at a cost of £336,000. The works carried out under his direction include the Nepean and Cataract dams, and 5 miles of 73-inch wrought-iron pipe-line.

From 1885 to 1889 he was engaged in investigations for the water-supply of several towns, and supervised works for the improvement of Circular Quay, Sydney.

He was appointed in 1889 Engineer-in-Charge of works in the Tweed river and Richmond river districts, carrying out improvements to the entrance of the Richmond river designed by Sir John Coode ; but in the following year he returned to Sydney to take up the appointment of Principal Assistant Engineer.

In 1901 he became Principal Engineer of the Harbours and Rivers Branch. He was a member of the Royal Commission formed in 1902 to report upon the water-supply to Sydney; President of the Metropolitan Board of Water Supply and Sewerage from 1904 to 1908 ; and a member of the Sydney Harbour Trust from 1908 to 1922. He was also Chairman of the Managing Committee of the State Dockyard at Cockatoo Island. After his retirement from public service, in 1923, he was elected a member of the Sydney Water and Sewerage Board, on which he served until his death.

Mr. Keele was frequently consulted by all the States of the Commonwealth and by the Government of New Zealand, and was associated with many important harbour works, as well as with works for the water-supply and sewerage of Sydney.

Mr. Keele was elected an Associate Member of The Institution in 1883, transferred to the class of Members in 1888, and elected a representative member of the Council in Australia in 1927, but did not live to take office as such. Besides contributing to the Correspondence on Papers read at The Institution, he wrote a second Paper: on “Investigation of the Nile River Flood-Record for Traces of Periodicity,” for which he was awarded a Telford Premium. He married, in 1883, Annie, daughter of George Pattrick.

He died at his home in Sydney on the 18th June, 1927, and was survived by his widow, four daughters, and two sons.


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