Engineering Heritage Australia

Celebrating Australia's rich history of engineering accomplishments.

About Engineering Heritage Australia

Engineering Heritage Australia (EHA) is Engineers Australia's peak heritage body. Its Board is comprised of representatives from each of the Division heritage groups. The Board develops policy and represents Engineers Australia nationally on engineering and industrial heritage matters. The Board also manages a number of Australia-wide programs and provides guidance and a degree of co-ordination to the engineering heritage groups located in each Division.

The Board

The Board's functions include:

  • representing Engineers Australia on engineering heritage matters
  • developing and promulgating policies and guidelines about engineering heritage and its conservation
  • managing the Australian Historic Engineering Plaquing Program
  • managing the National Engineering Oral History Program
  • creating and maintaining awareness of engineering heritage within the community and the profession
  • being the 'champion' of engineering heritage and participating in public debate.
  • managing the Engineering Heritage Conference Program
  • publishing the EHA Newsletter "Engineering Heritage Australia"

And conducting an awards program comprising :

  • the John Monash Medal for individuals
  • the Colin Crisp Award for heritage projects
  • the Award of Merit to members of engineering heritage groups

Division Engineering Heritage groups

Division engineering heritage groups are intimately involved at the State and local level in promoting the conservation of engineering heritage and in representing Engineers Australia on heritage matters. They:

  • identify items of engineering heritage, bring them to public notice and promote their recording on State and National registers
  • assist in archiving engineering documents
  • provide continuing education of the profession in engineering heritage e.g. conduct of engineering heritage conferences, seminars and workshops
  • are involved in educating the profession and community in the importance of engineering heritage and in recording its history e.g. awarding historic engineering plaques
  • conduct oral history programs
  • participate in community events
  • conduct heritage walks, talks, lectures and site visits
  • produce and publish heritage publications
  • provide input into the heritage policies and procedures of State Governments and their authorities
  • are involved in State heritage issues
  • provide advice and specialist knowledge on engineering heritage matters
  • interface with the community and heritage organisations to ensure the role of the engineering profession is adequately represented
  • represent Engineers Australia on government and other heritage committees.

Use the menu * to learn more about Engineering Heritage Australia's groups

Affiliations

Engineering Heritage Australia's Board and The Newcomen Society's Council have agreed to recognise their association and close kindred interests by mutual affiliation. It is envisaged that this will further facilitate the awareness of the activities of each group and of a sharing of knowledge and expertise between the two organisations.

What is Engineering Heritage?

Items of engineering heritage are those that have been designed, constructed and operated by engineers, tradesman and other technicians that may be significant for historic, aesthetic, scientific or social reasons.

In addition, heritage items may attain levels of significance because of their association with a particular person or their rarity. It should be noted that engineering heritage items may have considerable social significance, and not just scientific.

Why is Engineering Heritage important for future generations?

Engineering heritage provides an insight into past societies and cultures. It can represent:

  • innovation in equipment, structures and processes
  • the historical nature of services and industry
  • the historical nature of work and working conditions
  • the means of supporting individual and community lives.

Where do I find Engineering Heritage?

The answer is everywhere! Just look around you and you will see that engineered structures, processes and products provide much of the infrastructure that supports society.

Our water supply and sewerage systems are designed, constructed and operated by engineers. The electrical energy that powers our appliances is generated and distributed by infrastructure built by engineers. Engineers design transport vehicles, corridors and interchanges as well as the transport networks.

Our telephone, radio and television systems depend on vast networks developed by engineers, while our clothing and processed foods and many general consumer items come courtesy of manufacturing and production facilities designed by engineers.

What are some examples of Engineering Heritage?

Engineering heritage items may be fixed or moveable.

Examples of fixed engineering include:

  • Water Supply - dams, weirs, reservoirs, pipelines, pumps, water towers
  • Sewerage - pipes, screens, ponds
  • Transport - roads, rails, runways, bridges, airports, stations, signaling, vehicles, ships
  • Gas Services - retorts, gas holders, meters, piping
  • Electricity - boilers, generators, switch-yards, cables, towers, transformers
  • Drainage Systems - pipes, canals, traps
  • Communications & electronics - telephones, cables, poles, exchanges, broadcast stations, satellite stations, transmitting and receiving stations, radar stations, navigational aids & TV equipment
  • Agricultural/Pastoral - elevators, silos, sieves, shearing sheds, dips, scours
  • Mining - shafts, addits, poppet heads, crushers, puddling mills
  • Smelters - furnaces, boilers
  • Foundries - cupola, shot blasters, grinders
  • Manufacturing - presses, forges, rolls, welder
  • Food Processing - pressure cookers, can lines.

Moveable engineering heritage may include tools and equipment that can be reasonably readily transported from site to site. Examples include:

  • Blacksmiths shops - forge, bellows, anvil and all the tools (hammers, tongs, etc.)
  • Shearing sheds - hand shears and machine combs (probably not the shearing machine and its engine)
  • Farms - tractors, ploughs, rakes, harvesters, elevators.

Many of these movable items have significance in their own right, or add to the significance of the place they are associated with. Movable engineering heritage also includes items that by their nature are not related to a particular place, such as historic trains, planes, automobiles, traction engines, boats and the like.

Engineering heritage issues

Sometimes engineering heritage can be:

  • difficult to assess

Compared to heritage buildings it may be difficult to assess the significance of engineering items

  • difficult to conserve

Issues include heavily polluted sites and items which may not lend themselves to adaptive re-use, for example a mining poppet head

  • costly to conserve

For example the renovation work on extremely high brick chimneys such as at the Walk Water Works near Maitland

  • costly to maintain

For example the maintenance of exposed timber structures such as the Gundagai Bridge viaduct.

Centenary Book Project

Celebrating Engineers Australia’s Centenary in 2019

  • How would you communicate rapidly with the other side of the world?
  • How would you turn hard stoney ground into productive wheat fields?
  • How would you turn a creative vision into a world-renowned building?
  • How would you land the space shuttles safely back on Earth?

Australian engineers have answered these questions and the stories of how they did it will be told in “Wonders will never cease” – a book being developed by Engineering Heritage Australia to commemorate the centenary of Engineers Australia in 2019.

The book will feature 100 stories of Australian engineering achievements with an emphasis on maximising reader interest and providing an elegant and colourful mixture of text and images in a large landscape format.

The book is not intended to be a comprehensive history of engineering or engineers in Australia. Instead a small team (the Centenary Book Committee) has been working for some time to come up with a list of 100 works which capture the range and variety of Australian engineering – from the historic past to the emerging future.

We’ve developed an assessment process which enabled us to choose subjects based on:

  • the benefit to Australian society
  • the ingenuity or innovation of the engineering
  • the “wow factor” of the story.

The book is intended for the widest possible audience, not just engineers, and so the last aspect was particularly important – is it a good story likely to capture the imagination of the reader?

The list of 100

The list we’ve come up with is published here, along with one-line summaries which try to capture the essence of each story. But it is by no means final.

Download the list of 100

The Centenary Book Committee is further developing this story with your help. An updated book will be published in 2017.

If you have suggestions or comments, or would like more information, please send an email with “Centenary Book Project” in the subject line to: eha@engineersaustralia.org.au.

Contact the Committee

Awards

Join us

The care and protection of our engineering heritage is an enormous task. Engineering heritage has been much neglected in the past, and the tasks of researching, listing, and conserving are beyond the means of the hundred or so volunteers currently involved.

If you are interested in technical history and could spare some time, then please contact one of the Divisional representatives, or our Administrator. Non-members of Engineers Australia are very welcome.

Engineering heritage email forum

Join discussions and make enquiries through the Engineering Heritage Australia email group.

This group passes on all manner and nature of news and enquires relating to Engineering heritage, as well as other diverse heritage subjects. The email group is accessed from all over Australia and many heritage consultants and advisers use it as a resource to find difficult information. Its a good point of contact if you're in the business of heritage.

Contact us

For further details about Engineering Heritage Australia, please contact:

Email: eha@engineersaustralia.org.au

Engineers Australia
Engineering House
11 National Circuit
Barton ACT 2600

To contact Member Services please call 1300 653 113

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