Friday, January 28, 2011

Suicide Mission: Goldfields Pipe Dream

My latest Th!nk5: Water post

We grew up in the '50s thinking that all famous engineers were Scots, as the only encyclopaedia entries with our surname were a father and son engineering duo. Their water connections were confined to bridges, canals, lighthouses and the like. London Bridge is just one of their many famous projects. This post is about a place far from the sea or rivers, and an Irishman.

Kalgoorlie is famous for a number of things that have become part of our national ethos including:
  • mining, especially its Gold Mile
  • the water pipeline from Perth
At Primary School we were told an apocryphal tale about the engineer who built the pipeline. The story went that he had committed suicide days before the water reached its destination, believing that the system had failed.

A great story! A grand quest! A fateful tragedy!

Real life is less dramatic but sometimes just as memorable as myth. In 1902 Irish-born Charles Yelverton O’Connor killed himself less than a year before its successful completion on 24 January 1903. His suicide followed sustained criticism of the pipeline project and allegations against him of corruption.
Suicide Mission: Goldfields Pipe Dream

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