C. Y. O`ConnorPrint Page Print this page

16-June-2015 (Bryan Hardy)
16-June-2015 (Bryan Hardy)

Photographs supplied by Father Ted Doncaster / Bryan Hardy

The cross on the grave commemorates the engineer, Charles Yelverton O`Connor who committed suicide by riding his horse into the sea and shooting himself. The memorial cross was paid for by Public Works staff.

Charles Yelverton O'Connor CMG (11 January 1843 – 10 March 1902) was an Irish engineer who is best known for his work in Australia, especially the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.

A succession of gold rushes in the Yilgarn region near Southern Cross in 1887, at Coolgardie in 1892, and at Kalgoorlie in 1893 caused a population explosion in the barren and dry desert centre of Western Australia, exemplified by towns like Cunderdin and Merredin. On 16 July 1896, John Forrest introduced to Western Australian Parliament a bill to authorise the raising of a loan of £2.5 million to construct the scheme: the pipeline would pump 23,000 cubic metres of water per day to the Goldfields from a dam on the Helena River near Mundaring Weir in Perth, pumped in eight successive stages through 560 kilometres of 760 millimetre pipe to the Mount Charlotte Reservoir in Kalgoorlie. The water is then reticulated to various mining centres in the Goldfields.

O'Connor was subjected to prolonged criticism by members of the press and also many members of the Western Australian Parliament over the scheme.  Forrest, always a supporter, had left Western Australian politics to become federal defence minister; defamatory attacks by the press had wounded him. O'Connor committed suicide less than a year before Forrest officially commissioned the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme.

The Public Works Department has just erected over the grave of their late chief, Mr. C. Y.O'Connor, a memorial. A sum of £259 was raised by subscription in the department, and a magnificent Celtic cross of rough faced Meckering granite, rising from a pedestal of Italian marble has been erected over the grave. The cross stands 14ft. high, and is a very chaste and solid memorial. On one face of the pedestal is the inscription : 'Sacred to the memory of Charles Yelverton O'Connor, C.M.G., engineer-in-chief for Western Australia, who died at Fremantle on March 19, 1902, aged 58 years. Erected as a mark of esteem by the officers and employees of the Public Works Department, Western Australia.'
Kalgoorlie Miner, 30th January 1903.



Address:Carrington Street, Fremantle Cemetery, Grave A251, Palmyra, 6157
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -32.051831
Long: 115.780761
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Government - State


Approx. Monument Dedication Date:January-1903
Front Inscription

Sacred to the memory of Charles Yelverton O`Connor C.M.C.

Engineer in Chief for Western Australia who died at Fremantle 10th March 1902. 

Aged 50 Years

Erected as a mark of esteem by the Officers & employees of the Public Works Department W. A.


Source: MA,ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au