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Biographical entry Smith, Alexander Kennedy (1824 - 1881)

7 July 1824
Cauldmill, Roxburghshire, Scotland
16 January 1881
Studley Park, Victoria, Australia
Engineer and Politician


Alexander Smith was involved in the development of many of Victoria's gas and water works during the 1850s and 60s. Originally from Scotland, he was sent to Melbourne in 1854 to manage and build the Melbourne Gas and Coke Co. works. Once that project was complete, Smith remained in Victoria and set up his own practice. He built gas works in Victoria's Ballarat, Castlemaine and Sandhurst regions as well as one at Newcastle in New South Wales. Smith also drew up plans and specifications for many other works in Australia and overseas and worked as an engineer on the South Yarra Waterworks and was a consulting and locomotive engineer for the Melbourne and Suburban Railway Co. Smith was also a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1877 to 1881, member for the La Trobe Ward in the Melbourne City Council for fifteen years and Mayor of Melbourne from 1875 to 1876.



1846 - 1854
Career position - Engineer with the Great Western Railway Co.
1853 - c. 1857
Career position - Seconded to build and manage the Melbourne Gas and Coke Co. works - a five year contract
Career position - Arrived in Australia (Melbourne)
c. 1857 -
Career position - Civil and Consulting Engineer private practice established in Carlton, Victoria
1860 - ?
Career position - Major in the Victorian Volunteer Artillery Regiment
1875 - 1876
Career position - Mayor of the City of Melbourne
1877 - 1881
Career position - Member for East Melbourne in the Legislative Assembly

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Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions

Book Sections

Conference Papers

Journal Articles

  • Beauchamp, David, 'The Victorian Engineers of University Square', Transactions of Multi-disciplinary Engineering, Australia, GE26 (2002), 25-33,;dn=509163979814738;res=IELENG. Details
  • Smith, A.K., 'The Manufacture of Sulphuric Acid and Stearine Candles', Transactions and Proceedings of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science, 1 (1854-1855), 162-167. Details
  • Smith, A.K., 'On Gas and Gas Works', Transactions and Proceedings of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science, 1 (1854-1855), 74-92; 143-148. Details
  • Smith, A.K., 'Notes on the Quality of Hartley and Greta Shale for the Manufacture of Gas, together with a Description of the New Coal Seam at Greta', Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 10 (1874), 5-11. Details


See also

  • Science and the making of Victoria, with Royal Society of Victoria, 2001, Details
  • Cumming, D. A., Some Public Works Engineers in Victoria in the Nineteenth Century (Melbourne: University of Melbourne, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, 1985), 59 pp. Details
  • Engineers Australia, Wonders never cease: 100 Australian engineering achievements (Barton, Australian Capital Territory: Institution of Engineers, Australia, 2019), 236 pp. p.176. Details

McCarthy, G.J.