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Biographical entry Goodman, William George Toop (1872 - 1961)


14 March 1872
Ramsgate, Kent, England
4 February 1961
Nailsworth, South Australia, Australia


Sir William Goodman was chief engineer (1907-1950) and manager (1908-1950) of the Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) of South Australia where he oversaw the construction of South Australia's tramways network and an increase in the number of MTT buses in service. Then in 1929, Goodman saw the MTT take over and revamp the Adelaide-Glenelg steam railways. Goodman also helped establish the tramways system in Dunedin, New Zealand and sat on many Australian and New Zealand boards and royal commissions. He was knighted in 1932 for his services to Adelaide.


After leaving school in the 1890s, William George Toop Goodman joined the London engineering firm of Poole & White. By 1895 he was back in Australia and installed the first electrical plant at the Mount Lyell mines in Tasmania. Next Goodman went to New Zealand to work for Noyes Brothers on the construction, in Dunedin, of New Zealand's first electric tramway. He remained in Dunedin for some time and in 1903 became its chief electrical engineer.

In 1907 Adelaide established its Municipal Tramways Trust (MTT) and appointed Goodman its chief engineer, then its general manager a year later. He remained in both posts until he retired in 1950. During this time, William Goodman established an electric tramways system in Adelaide (1907) and Port Adelaide (1917), a new power station, increased the number of MTT buses in operation, took over the management of the Adelaide-Glenelg railways (1929), and later replaced Port Adelaide's trams with double-deck trolley buses (1938).

During his forty-two years of service with the MTT, Goodman also held many external posts including: Federal government agent to research advances in munitions production and visited factories in Britain, Europe and the United States of America; member of the royal commissions into transport (Auckland) and South Australian railways; member of the joint Commonwealth-States inquiry into the Hume Reservoir; councilor of the University of Adelaide for over forty years; chair of the South Australian Housing Trust (1937-1944) which provided locals with low-rental accommodation and member of the Metropolitan Omnibus Board. William Goodman's efforts were rewarded in 1932 when he was knighted and again in 1945 when he received the prestigious Peter Nicol Russell memorial medal from Australia's Institute of Engineering.


Career position - Installation of first electrical plant at Mount Lyell mine, Tasmania
1897 - 1900
Career position - Assistant Electrical Engineer for the Tramways Construction Branch at the Department of Public Works in New South Wales
c. 1901 - c. 1902
Career position - Engineer at Noyes Brothers Pty. Ltd., New Zealand
1903 - 1907
Career position - Electrical Engineer at Dunedin City council, New Zealand
1907 - 1950
Career position - Chief Engineer at the Municipal Tramways Trust in South Australia
1908 - 1950
Career position - General Manager of the Municipal Tramways Trust of South Australia
1913 - 1954
Career position - Council member of the University of Adelaide
Career position - Munitions factories inspections in Britain, Europe, and USA
1927 -
Career position - Member of the Metropolitan Omnibus Board of South Australia
Career position - Member of the Royal commission into transport in Auckland, New Zealand
Career position - Member of the Commonwealth-States Hume Reservoir enquiry
Award - Knight of the British Empire (KBE)
1937 - 1944
Career position - Chair of the South Australian Housing Trust
Career position - Chair of the Royal commission into South Australian railways
Award - Peter Nicol Russell Memorial Medal received from the Institute of Engineering (Australia)
Life event - Retired

Published resources

Book Sections


McCarthy, G.J.