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Alexander Brown Portus

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Alexander Brown Portus (1834-1905)

1906 Obituary [1]

ALEXANDER BROWN PORTUS, born on the 21st February, 1834, at Black Creek, Hunter River, New South Wales, received his training as an engineer and millwright under his father, Mr. John Portus, with whom, after undertaking a voyage to Europe and America in 1855, to make himself acquainted with engineering pmctice in those countries, he was engaged in the design and erection of various classes of machinery until 1865.

In the latter year, he entered the Public Works Department of New South Wales, and after carrying out dredging work on the Hunter River and at Newcastle, he was appointed in 1880 Superintending Engineer of all dreging-plant in New South Wales, at first under the late Mr. E. O. Moriarty, and subsequently under Mr. C. W. Darley.

He retained this appointment until his retirement, owing to failing health, in 1904. During his occupation of the position of Superintendent, considerable additions were made to the comparatively small fleet of dredging-machines which the State possessed in 1880, and much valuable lanwd as reclaimed and other improvements effected. On his initiative centrifugal-pump dredging was introduced into the Colony, and the work done was described by Mr. Portus in Papers read before the Royal Society of Kew South Wales. Eighteen powerful suction dredgers were also added, and have greatly reduced the cost of removing sand. The twin-screw hopper dredgers built to his design, drawing only 54 feet of water and capable of steaming and dredging at the same time, proved an unqualified success in the rough water on the sandy bars of the rivers on the coast of New South Wales.

Many improvements in connection with dredging were devised by Mr. Portus, and the gimbal joints and rings for connecting pipes on pontoons, extensively used in the Colony, were introduced by him. His skill and ability were recognized not only by the Government of New South Wales, but also by other States and private bodies who wailed themselves of his professional services.

He died at his residence, Moore Park, Sydney, on the 8th October, 1905, in his seventy-second year.

Mr. Portus was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 7th February, 1888.

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