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Biographical entry Henderson, John Baillie (1836 - 1921)

25 July 1836
London, United Kingdom
15 February 1921
Queensland, Australia
Hydraulic engineer


John Henderson was a hydraulic engineer who had a varied experience with the Victorian colonial and shire governments between 1862 and 1878, working on roads and water supply in regional areas such as Geelong, Bendigo and Gippsland. Having been made redundant in 1872, he moved to Townsville and found employment with the water supply for the town. Between 1893 and 1914 he was employed as a hydraulic engineer for the Government of Queensland. Henderson recognised the need to understand local hydrological, rainfall, evaporation and flood conditions. He advocated fieldwork experiments, meticulous record-keeping, flood warning systems, the use of water meters, and the prevention of building on flood plains, and was involved in the widening and deepening of the Brisbane River.



Life event - Migrated to Australia with his family
1862 - 1863
Career position - Road overseer, Victorian Department of Roads and Bridges
1863 - 1866
Career position - Shire engineer, Gippsland, Victoria
1866 - 1872
Career position - Engineer and surveyor, Victorian Department of Water Supply
Career event - made redundant
1878 -
Career position - Resident engineer, northern waterworks, Townsville, Queensland
Career event - Associate Member (AssocMInstCE), Institution of Civil Engineers, London
7 December 1880
Career event - Associate Member (AssocMInstCE), Institution of Civil Engineers, London
1883 - 1895
Career event - Member (MIMechE), Institution of Mechanical Engineers, London
1883 - 1914
Career position - Hydraulic Engineer, Queensland Government
4 November 1884
Career event - Member (MInstCE), Institution of Civil Engineers, London
Life event - Retired

Published resources


  • Whitmore, Raymond, Hydraulic Henderson: water resources pioneer (Brisbane: Engineers Australia, 2009), 188 pp. Details

Book Sections

Edited Books

Journal Articles

  • Cook, Margaret, 'John Baillie Henderson: a hydrologist in colonial Brisbane', International Review of Environmental History, 4 (1) (2018), 69-92. Details


Helen Cohn