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Robert Charles Patterson

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Robert Charles Patterson (1844-1907)

1907 Obituary [1]

ROBERT CHARLES PATTERSON was born in Melbourne in 1844, and obtained his professional training in England. Returning to Australia in 1864, he was first employed on railway construction in Queensland for Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts, and subsequently in Tasmania on the surveys for the Western Railway between Launceston and Ulverstone.

From Queensland Mr. Patterson went to South Australia, where he held in succession the positions of Resident Engineer for Railways, Chief Assistant Engineer, and finally Deputy Engineer-in-Chief of the Colony.

In 1871 he completed the overland-telegraph expedition to the Northern Territory, and he had the privilege of personally joining the wires which for the first time connected Europe with Australia by telegraph.

After his retirement from this office, he took up contracting work in Tasmania, in which he was entirely successful, and shortly after completing a contract for the construction of part of the Derwent Valley Railway he retired from professional pursuits.

Mr. Patterson then turned his attention to public affairs, in which he continued to take a keen and active interest until his death. In 1900 he was elected one of the members for Hobart in the House of Assembly, and was returned for South Hobart in 1903. During the ensuing session he was chosen leader of the Opposition, but after a few months he was obliged to retire on account of ill-health.

It was, however, as member, and subsequently as Chairman of the Metropolitan Drainage Board, an office for which his training as an engineer and experience as a contractor eminently fitted him, that Mr. Patterson rendered his most valuable and lasting service to the community. He held the office continuously after his election to the Chair.

Whilst presiding at a meeting of a committee of the Board on the 21st June, 1907, he suddenly became unconscious, and despite prompt medical aid, he died within an hour of the seizure, death being due to cerebral haemorrhage. In private life, Mr. Patterson was generally esteemed as a man of wide intellectual and social interests, a stanch friend, and one ever ready to perform acts of kindness and charity.

He was elected a Member of The Institution on the 1st May, 1877. In the following year he presented to The Institution a Paper, "On the best methods of Railway Construction for the Development of New Countries, as illustrated by the Railway Systems of South Australia."

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