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A BRIDGE BUILDER.
DEATH OF NORMAN SELFE. A DISTINGUISHED CAREER,
A pioneer bridge builder, a public spirited citizen and an engineer who played no unimportant part in the building up and remodelling
of Sydney died yesterday in the person of Mr. Norman Selfe.
Tho deceased gentleman was one of the best known civil engineers in Australia. Born on December 3, 1839 at Kingston on Thames he had just passed the allotted three score years and ten. Yet up to the last he retained the fullest use of all his faculties, and only last week gave a detailed account of the events which led to the proposed bridge or tunnel connection with North Sydney and explained minutely the design of his bridge which was selected by the Advisory Board from competitors from all over the world.
Educated in England for the engineering profession, Mr Selfe arrived in Sydney during Ing January of 1855 and was at once articled to the eminent engineering firm of which the late Sir Peter Nicol Russell was the head. After serving his time at the various mechanical branches-both for wood and metal working and also in the drawing office-he became their chief draftsman. For several years afterwards, until the partnership was dissolved he was the responsible officer of this firm for the design of hundreds of engineer
ing works carried out, many of them under contract for the Government
He was afterwards the superintending engineer to two kerosene companies designed and carried out the mining plant, with the mountain railway and incline at Hartley Vale; as well as the works at Waterloo and the North Shore. Then under engagement with the Gas Comparny he erected the new head station and designed several of the prominent buildings still stinding
Mr Selfe gave up his engagement with the Gas Company to accept the position of chief draftsman and scientific engineer to Mort's Dock and Engineering Company at Balmain. This position he held for a number of years until by the kind co-operation of the late Mr T.S. Mort he commenced private practice. Mr Seife visited 70 cities in Europe and the United States and made himself acquainted by personal observation with great engineering works in two hemispheres.
Many years since he was elected a full member of the English Institution of Civil Engineers, and later a member of both the Mechanical Engineers' and Naval Architects Institutions; he has also been president of both the local engineering associations. In recognition of a work on engineering, published lished in Chicago, he was made hon. member of an American association.
Durng the course of his extended career Mr Selfe has designed the hulls, machinery or both, for over 40 steamers incuding the Australian torpedo vessels. He was the first to introduce the compound engine to local boats, both paddle and screw; and designed the first ferry boat with screw at both ends now so common in Port Jackson. Included among his works are numbers of mills and manufactories, country water works, the ori- ginal high level pumping plant at Crown
Street and the supplementary engines at Botany, for the Sydney supply. He designed the first ice machines made in the colony and is the author of work on the subject. He first introduced lifts or elevators into New South Wales designed some scores of them including the 40 ton lifts still working. He patented a new svstem of wool pressing which revolutionsed the business by increasing the capacity four fold and has carried out number of hydraulic and electric light installations in the city. He also designed all the apparatus by which trains on the New South Wales railways were first lighted by gas.
Nearly all the deep sea wharfs at the north end of the city of Sydnev have been reconstructed by Mr Selfe to accommodate modern vessels on entirely now lines introduced by him and with piles of unprecedented size and weight. Here also the first solid quay wall of concrete in the harbour was built by him 25 jours ago. All this is now the property of
The first school for technical instruction in New South Wales was initiated by Mr Selfe at the School of Arts in 1865; he was afterwards successively a member of the committee of the Working Men's College and of the Board of Technical Education. For over three years he was the chairman of the latter body until its work was absorbed by the Department of Public Instruction in 1889.
Mr Selfe always took a keen, active interest
as a citizen in all that concerns the improvement
of Sydney and its port, quite apart from his professional practice. When it was proposed
in 1873 to construct iron wharfs in Svdney Cove, suitable then only for the berthing
of small sailing vessels, suggested to the Govornment tat provision should rather be made there for mail steamers and he was then requested to prepare plans for his scheme. He did this and sat forth a scheme
for building wharf walls under water and ultimately all the leading features he
advocated were adopted in the work carried out
Mr. Selfe for over twenty years was a strenuous advocate of a circular city railway that should connect up the eastern, western, and northen suburbs of the city with the
marine suburbs of the harbour, and stations adjacent to the ferries; also the construction of a rational head station, accessible on all sides to the tram and vehicle traffic. The
resumption and remodolling of the 'Rocks'
and old burying grounds for city improvement were shown on his plans, printed in 1887. There aro other improvements, the result of his proposals and although he spent many hundreds of pounds on the preparation of such plans and prepared evidence without charge for two Royal commissions and two Public Works Comittees dealing with the city railway and the North Shore bridge,
he rendered them freely.
Later on he was the successful competitor for the North Shore bridge and his design was recommended bv the Government Advisory Board and will soon be considered by the Public Works Committee. He was one of the best-known figures in the city, and his death removes one who had come closely in contact with the leading public men in the State for over half a century.