A project from the National Trust of WA
A self-guided drive trail between the Perth Hills and Western Australia’s Eastern Goldfields. Go with the Flow. Follow the water to discover more about the audacious goldfields water supply scheme and Engineer CY O’Connor.
“Future generations, I am quite certain will think of us and bless us for our far seeing patriotism, and it will be said of us, as Isaiah said of old, ‘They made a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert”
In 1937, when many of the pipes on the Goldfields Water Supply Scheme were being replaced due to corrosion, a Kellerberrin resident noted that, while many of the top halves were still in good condition, it was only the bottoms that were corroded.
Frank Mather had been born in Fremantle in 1903 and moved to Kelleberrin at the age of four with his family. Frank was always interested in machinery, building his own hay-baling machine. He was the first person in the area to use pneumatic tyres on a tractor.
In 1937 gangs replacing corroded pipes in the water supply pipeline worked opposite the Mather family farm. Frank Mather observed pipes discarded when only one half was corroded. He was told two good halves couldn’t be welded together because of the locking bar. To “cut” a pipe-half below the locking bar would affect its shape.
Always one to find a solution to a problem, Frank looked for a solution to save the sound top halves of the pipes. He invented a machine to cut the locking bar from the pipe. It had metal cutting saws through which a pipe could be fed to remove the locking bar.
Two good halves were then welded together – making a pipe about 7 cm smaller in diameter than the original – and a concrete lining spun in. The authorities were initially sceptical but gave him a short trial contract of about 550 m. It proved so successful, with considerable cost savings to the government, that Mather’s Kellerberrin welding company was soon awarded more contracts.
Click on any map section or place below to discover The Golden Pipeline.