James Moore (engineer)

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James Moore
Born 1826
Died 19 November 1887
Lismore, New South Wales[1]
Nationality English
Engineering career
Discipline civil engineer
Projects Hobsons Bay railway line Victoria

James Moore (1826–1887) was an engineer responsible for the first steam railway to operate in Australia.

Early life[edit]

James Moore C.E. was born in about 1827 in England, a nephew of Sir William Cubitt, under whom he was engaged on the South Eastern and Great Northern railways in Britain, and presumably learnt his trade there. Moore moved to Australia in the 1850s to take up a position with the first railway project in the country.

Hobsons Bay railway[edit]

Moore was appointed as Chief Engineer for the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay Railway Company in Melbourne, Australia, in March 1854, replacing a William Snell Chauncy, who had resigned the engineership of the line under a cloud as the work on the railway pier had proven useless. It was said of Moore that he was a man of whose abilities rumour speaks favourably.[2] Moore was responsible for completing the railway line between the city and Sandridge, as well as the main deep-water pier on Hobson's Bay at Sandridge. He can also be credited with the first locomotive in the Australian colonies when he attached a pile driving steam engine to one of the heavy railway trucks, to assist in construction of the line.[3]

At the opening of the line in September 1854, he was presented with an engraved watch with the inscription: "James Moore, Esq. Engineer of the Melbourne & Hobson's Bay Railway by the Commissioners as a token of their esteem and in commemoration of his having opened the first Railway in the Australian Colonies Sept. 12th 1854".[4] However, not long after this he was replaced on 12 December 1854, by William Elsdon, possibly due to some perceived incompetence.[5]

Later career[edit]

Little is known of Moore's later career, although he is noted as having been late resident engineer of the Windsor and Richmond Railway (in New South Wales) and then superintendent of works on the Southern extension of the New South Wales Great Southern Railway into the town of Goulburn.[6]

A James Moore is also credited with building the Victorian Railways Administration Offices in Spencer Street, Melbourne. However, although commissioned in 1886, building only started in 1888 and was not completed until 1893, so it is possible that this was a different James Moore.[7][8]

He moved to Lismore in New South Wales in about 1870, where he managed a well-known sugar plantation in the Big Scrub but when he experienced some heavy losses he moved into Lismore and took up the position as Engineer for the Borough of Lismore in 1886, until ill health caused him to resign on 15 April 1886.[9]


Moore died in Lismore, New South Wales in 1887 of diabetes aged 61, having been resident at the country property Jesswoolgan, near Alstonville, New South Wales for some time, and was referred to as for many years civil engineer of the Railway Department in Sydney.[1] He was described as ...one who was always kind and affable, and whose' hand was ever stretched forth to assist the needy or distressed.'[10] His funeral was held at the Lismore Church of England read by the Rev. A. Poole, and his remains were interred at the Wilson's Ridges Church of England Cemetery, Lismore.[11]


  1. ^ a b Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) Thursday 24 November 1887 p.2.
  2. ^ "THE COURIER.". The Courier (Hobart, Tas. : 1840-1859). Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia. 25 March 1854. p. 2. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  3. ^ Colonial Times (Hobart Tasmania) Wednesday 7 June 1854 p.2.
  4. ^ Pocket Watch - Walsh Jones & Co, presented to James Moore, 1854 Object Reg. No: ST 026238
  5. ^ "MELBOURNE AND HOBSON'S BAY RAILWAY COMPANY.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848-1954). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 6 June 1855. p. 6. Retrieved 23 June 2011. 
  6. ^ The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW) Friday 20 January 1865 p.2.
  7. ^ National Trust Classification B4967
  8. ^ 'New Railway offices, Melbourne' c 1895 State Library Victoria H93.64/63
  9. ^ "Borough Council Business Paper.". Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954). Lismore, NSW: National Library of Australia. 13 March 1886. p. 3. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Northern Star.". Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954). Lismore, NSW: National Library of Australia. 23 November 1887. p. 2. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 
  11. ^ "Local and General News.". Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954). Lismore, NSW: National Library of Australia. 26 November 1887. p. 2. Retrieved 14 May 2013. 


  • Cumming, D.A. Some Public Works Engineers in Victoria in the Nineteenth Century Technology Report No. TR-85/10. August 1985.
  • Lee, Robert. The Railways of Victoria 1854-2004 Melbourne University Publishing Ltd, ISBN 9780522851342.
  • Harrigan, Leo J. (1962). Victorian Railways to '62. Public Relations and Betterment Board. p. 274.