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Biographical entry Shea, Frederick James (1891 - 1970)

6 July 1891
Moonee Ponds, Victoria, Australia
6 September 1970
Mona Vale, New South Wales, Australia
Public servant and Railway engineer


Frederick Shea was a railway engineer who made significant contributions to Australia's railway systems. During 17 years with the Victorian Railways he was involved in the modernisation of the workshops and the electrification of the network. During his time with the South Australian Railways as Chief Mechanical Engineer he designed three types of locomotive to cope with local conditions. Shea's railways career was interrupted during WWII when he joined the Aircraft Production Commission in 1940 and was responsible for aircraft maintenance and putting much of Australia's industry on a war footing. His return to rail came towards the end of the war when he became director of mechanical engineering under the Commonwealth Government's program to standardise railway gauges across Australia. He later joined locomotive manufacturer Clyde Engineering which names one of their diesel hydraulic locomotives in his honour.



Career event - Apprentice Fitter and Turner, Victorian Railways' workshops, Newport, Victoria
Education - Diploma in mechanical engineering, Working Men's College, Melbourne
1923 - 1939
Career position - Chief Mechanical Engineer, South Australian Railways
1940 - 1941
Career position - Manager, Beaufort Division, Aircraft Production Commission, Fishermens Bend, Melbourne
1942 - 1946
Career position - Director of Aircraft Maintenance, Department of Aircraft Production
1946 - 1958
Career position - Director of Engineering, Clyde Engineering Co. Pty Ltd
Life event - Retired

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Published resources

Book Sections

  • Fort, Carol, 'Shea, Frederick James (1891-1970), Railway Engineer and Public Servant', in John Ritchie and Diane Langmore (eds), Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 16, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne, 2002, pp. 221-222. Also available at Details

Online Resources

Ailie Smith and Helen Cohn