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JOSHUA THOMAS ANDERSON, CIVIL, MINING & MECHANICAL ENGINEER

This cover front only was sent from the University of Sydney to J.T. Anderson Esq, B.A., B.E., A.M. (---- ), Messrs Monash & Anderson, Civil and Mechanical Engineers, Australian Buildings, 49 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne and the pair of the lilac ‘ONE PENNY’ ‘Sydney Views’ stamps of New South Wales were obliterated with an illegible postmark, but there was a fine HOMEBUSH/ SP 27/ 1894/ N.S.W postmark alongside (Figure 1).

Joshua Thomas Noble Anderson practised innovative engineering during difficult times in the Depressions of the 1890s and 1930s, and in June 1894 the firm of Monash and Anderson opened at 49 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne a mere 5 months before the reception of this cover. Noble had been a friend of John Monash since tutoring him for the water supply engineer’s exam in 1891, and the two set up as civil, mining and mechanical engineers, and patent agents. Monash also came into demand as an advocate and expert witness in legal-engineering work, and between 1897 and 1899 spent much time in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. In September 1897 Monash and Anderson became the Victorian agents for Monier reinforced concrete construction. This led to their involvement in the building of the Anderson Street (Morell) Bridge over the Yarra River and becoming contractors for the Fyansford (Barwon River) and other Victorian bridges. They also took up pipe manufacture forming with David Mitchell, and the Monier Pipe Co. Pty. Ltd of Victoria in 1901. By 1905 the parnership in their company was dissolved.

Anderson was born 14 February 1865 at Springbank, Dunmurry, County Antrim, Ireland the third child of seven born to Rev. Samuel Anderson and all children received a good education: Joshua was educated at Queen’s College, Belfast and the Royal University of Dublin, graduating in engineering and Arts. He worked for 3 engineering companies, went into private practice for a time and then left for Victoria in 1889. He had married Ellen Mary, also a child of clergyman, in Melbourne in 1892 and his first contact with engineering in Victoria was with the Laanecoorie Weir. He took up a lectureship in mechanical engineering at the University of Melbourne.

Monash and Anderson were much the same age and liked each other from the start of their association from the start. And in the early days of their partnership, Anderson continued working part-time at the University until1896. Anderson must be given the credit for the introduction of reinforced concrete in Victoria. On the basis of this new technology the company secured contracts for Bridges at Melbourne, Geelong and Bendigo as well as Perth. Financial problems forced Anderson to go to Dunedin, New Zealand where he was consulting engineer for the Drainage Board, prior to the partnership being dissolved. At the time of his leaving Victoria he was President of the Victorian Institute of Engineers. In 1906 the growing family went back to Ireland, but he was back in Victoria by the next year, and later he was working as a Shire Engineer for several local government councils from 1912-19. Life for the family was difficult in the country, and he was often separated from them for a month at a time.

In the 1920s Anderson advised Burley Griffin on the design of Canberra, including what later became Lake Burley Griffin and for the water supply system at the Cotter Dam. His final years were more tranquil at Richmond than earlier times, and he died on 18 October 1949, aged 84.

See:  Armed Forces category for paper on John Monash.

 
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