Browse Entries

Use Trove to find more resources by/about this Biographical entry

  • Trove

Biographical entry Harper, Herbert Reah (1871 - 1956)

23 June 1871
London, England
27 July 1956
Toorak, Victoria, Australia
Electrical engineer


Herbert Harper worked for the Victorian State Electricity Commission from its inception in 1919 until 1936. Prior to this he was employed by the Department of Mines, the Melbourne City Council and the Brush Electrical Engineering Co. (England). While working for the latter, he was sent to Malta to oversee the installation of a power supply system and was then sent to Brush's subsidiary company, the Electric Light and Traction Co. in Melbourne (1899). During an overseas trip for the Department of Mines, Harper discovered the usefulness of brown coal as an energy source. When he returned to Australia, he was appointed to the government's brown coal advisory commission whose report instigated brown coal-mining and a power plant at Yallourn, in Victoria's La Trobe Valley. Herbert Harper's efforts saw the industrialisation of Victoria based on cheap power supply. He was awarded the Kernot (The Melbourne University Engineering Foundation) and Peter Nicol Russell (Institution of Engineers, Australia) Medals in recognition of his achievements.



c. 1891 - 1893
Career position - Apprentice at Rennoldson Electrical Engineering Company in England
1893 - 1901
Career position - Electrical Engineer at Brush Electrical Engineering Co., UK
1895 - 1896
Career position - Supervisor, then Chief Engineer of the Malta electrical supply system
1899 - 1901
Career position - Assistant at the Electrical Light and Traction Melbourne
1901 - c. 1911
Career position - Electrical Engineer at the Melbourne City Council
1911 - 1919
Career position - Electrical Engineer at the Department of Mines
Career position - Inaugural President of the Electrical Supply Association of Australia
1919 - 1936
Career position - Inaugural Chief Engineer at State Electricity Commission (SEC) of Victoria
Career position - President of the Institution of Engineers, Australia
Award - Kernot Memorial Medal, for distinguished engineering achievement in Australia. Faculty of Engineering, University of Melbourne
Career position - World tour of electrical works for the SEC
Life event - Retired
1937 - 1938
Career position - Consultant to the New South Wales Government
1941 - 1945
Career position - Member of the Army Mechanization Board

Related Awards

Related People

Published resources

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • Harper, Herbert Reah, 'Notes descriptive of the electric supply station of the Melbourne City Council (Paper & Discussion)', Proceedings of the Victorian Institute of Engineers vol. VII (1907), 18-26. Details
  • Lorimer, G. & Harper, Herbert Reah, 'Fuel Calorimetry (Demonstrations & Discussion)', Proceedings of the Victorian Institute of Engineers vol. X (1910), 81-88, 95-104. Details


Annette Alafaci