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Biographical entry Kelso, Alexander Edward (1894 - 1943)


6 June 1894
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
12 January 1943
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Civil engineer


Alexander Kelso, MM MCE AssocMInstCE AMIEAust, was Engineer of Water Supply for the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) from 1935-1943. He supervised the construction of the O'Shanassy weir, the Silvan dam and designed the Upper Yarra dam. In the siting and foundation design for the Silvan dam, he pioneered geo-technical engineering. When it was designed, the Upper Yarra dam was one of the largest earth filled dams in the world.


During the Second World War he was the chief engineer to the engineering section of the US army in Australia; was technical adviser to the Minister of the Army; and was a member of the Business Advisory Panel.

During the First World War he served in France under Sir John Monash, was wounded and gassed and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry in the field. He received a commission in 1918.

As engineer for the Country Roads Board, in 1922, he was involved with the construction of the bridge over the Barwon River at Geelong.

In 1934 he presented a paper to the Institution of Civil Engineers "The Construction of Silvan Dam, Melbourne Water Supply". He was also Chairman of Melbourne Division and a Member of Council of the Institution of Engineers, Australia; and a member of the Faculty of Engineering and of the Standing Committee of Convocation of the University of Melbourne.


1909 - 1912
Education - Scotch College, Melbourne
1916 - 1918
Career position - War Service, 10th Field Company of Engineers, AIF, France, under Major W.J.B. McCormack
Award - Military Medal for gallantry in the field
Career event - Foundation Associate Member (AMIEAust), Institution of Engineers Australia
c. 1919
Award - The Argus engineering Scholarship, University of Melbourne
1919 - c. 1920
Career position - Hydraulic engineer, Hydro-Electric Power Department, Tasmania
Education - Bachelor of Civil Engineering (BCE), University of Melbourne
Award - Stawell Scholarship for Research in Engineering, University of Melbourne
1920 - c. 1921
Career position - Assistant engineer, Ouse Diversion Works, Hydro-electric Power department, Tasmania
14 December 1920
Career event - Associate Member (AssocMInstCE), Institution of Civil Engineers, London
Education - Master of Civil Engineering (MCE), University of Melbourne
1921 - 1922
Career position - Resident engineer, Hume Reservoir Works
1922 - c. 1924
Career position - Engineer for bridges, Country Roads Board, Victoria
c. 1924 - 1927
Career position - Resident engineer, O'Shannassy dam, MMBW, Victoria
1927 - 1930
Career position - Resident engineer, Silvan dam, MMBW, Victoria
1930 - 1931
Career position - Senior Construction engineer, Sewerage, MMBW
1931 - 1934
Career position - Assistant engineer of Sewerage, MMBW, Victoria
1934 - 1936
Career position - Assistant engineer of Water Supply, MMBW, Victoria
1936 - 1943
Career position - Engineer of Water Supply, MMBW, Victoria.
1939 - 1940
Career position - President, Melbourne Division, Institution of Engineers, Australia


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Published resources


Resource Sections

  • Rasmussen, Carolyn, 'From the Significant to the Indispensible: The Working Lives of Seventeen Figures in the History of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works', in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Australian National University, 2019, Details

Ken McInnes