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Calder Edkins Oliver (1855–1930)

Deep regret will be felt at the news of the death of Mr. Calder Oliver, formerly chief engineer of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, which occurred at a private hospital last night. Mr. Oliver was aged 74 years.

Mr. Calder Edkins Oliver was born at St. Kilda in 1855. His father was the late Mr. Alexander Calder Oliver, one of the first secretaries of the Roads and Bridges department of Victoria. He was educated at the Church of England Grammar School, Melbourne, under Dr. Bromby. At the Melbourne University Mr. Oliver passed his examination as civil engineer in 1877, and was awarded the degree of master of civil engineering in 1893. In 1896 he obtained the certificate of municipal engineer, and that of hydraulic engineer in 1889. He was the first student selected from the Melbourne University to assist in the observation of the transit of Venus in 1874. In 1888 he was elected associate member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, and member in 1897.

Mr. Oliver's career covers an unbroken period of 42 years in connection with some of the most extensive works executed throughout Australia - works necessitating skill in the construction and maintenance of railways and viaducts, and in bridges, channels, reservoirs, and also in water supply and sewerage works. During 1877 and 1878 he was engaged in the Victorian Railways department as field assistant on survey, and from 1878 to 1883 was with Messrs. C. and E. Millar, railway contractors, as engineer on construction in Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales, supervising the laying of more than 600 miles of railway line. In 1883 and 1884 he was engaged by the Sydney Corporation on sewerage and water supply work, and afterwards returned to railway construction in New South Wales and Western Australia, after a brief service with the Water Supply department.

Mr. Oliver commenced his connection with the Metropolitan Board of Works on its inception in 1891. He has filled in turn the positions of superintending engineer of sewerage, superintending engineer of sewerage and water supply, acting chief engineer, and in 1908 he was appointed engineer in chief. He was connected with many professional institutions and bodies, and delivered numerous papers and addresses on scientific subjects. He was a member of the University Club, and also one of the honorary co-examiners in hydraulic engineering for the Melbourne University.

In April 1019, Mr. Oliver retired from his position on the Metropolitan Board of Works, and in recognition of his great services extending over a period of 27½ years, the board granted him a gratuity of £1,000. While in the service of the board Mr. Oliver's services were requisitioned by various Government bodies, and he was engaged on the sewerage of Perth in 1909, of Brisbane in 1912, and of Canberra in 1916. On his retirement from the Metropolitan Board of Works, Mr. Oliver joined in partnership with Mr. A. G. Harding Frew as consulting engineers, and later he practised on his own account. Mr. Oliver retired altogether from the active practice of his profession about seven years ago.

Mr. Oliver married in 1883 a daughter of the late Mr. Charles Kernot, M.L.A., Mrs. Oliver being a sister of the late Professor Kernot. He leaves a family of three daughters and one son, Mr. Calder Kernot Oliver, who was a lieutenant of engineers, and saw active service during the war. He is now in Sydney.

Original publication

Citation details

'Oliver, Calder Edkins (1855–1930)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 24 May 2024.

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