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Biographical entry Risson, Robert Joseph Henry (1901 - 1992)

Born
20 April 1901
Ma Ma Creek, Grantham, Queensland, Australia
Died
19 July 1992
Murrumbeena, Victoria, Australia
Occupation
Civil engineer, Military engineer and Tramway Engineer

Summary

Robert Risson was a Civil Engineer, with a distinguished career with the Brisbane and Melbourne Tramways; and a Military Engineer during the Second World War in the United Kingdom, North Africa, Palestine, Syria, New Guinea, Morotai and Borneo, with the ranks of Major, Lieutenant-Colonel and Brigadier.

Details

As a civil engineer, he specialised in Tramway construction, maintenance and operation.

His career commenced with the Brisbane Tramways Trust from 1923-1939, where he implemented modern methods of track construction, and concluded with his long term position as Chairman of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board (M&MTB) from 1949-1970.

As chairman of the M&MTB, he championed the role of Tramways as an efficient system for moving large numbers of people around the city, but any improvements were constrained by the high ongoing costs of maintaining roadway surfaces, as well as maintaining the tramway rails, poles and wires.

In the mid 1960s he ambitiously proposed an underground tramway along the length of Swanston Street. His persuasive arguments against the automobile and bus lobbyists during this period, ensured that the Melbourne tramways remained, when other metropolitan tramway systems around the world were removed.

His military engineering career, included siting of defence works in South England, 1940; Commander, Siege of Tobruk 1941; Commander, Syrian Campaign, 1941; Commander, design and construction of concrete defence works, roads, bridges, storage facilities at Tripoli, Syria (£1,000,000), 1941-42; Commander, Western Desert Egypt, including battle of El Alamein 1942; Chief Engineer, New Guinea 1943-44; Chief Engineer, Morotai and Borneo 1945.

Events

1922
Career event - Student Member (StudIEAust), Institution of Engineers Australia
1923 - 1924
Career position - Assistant Engineer, Brisbane Tramways Trust, under William Muir Nelson
27 April 1923
Education - Bachelor of Engineering (Civil), University of Queensland
1924 - 1927
Career position - Inspecting Engineer, Brisbane Tramways Trust, under William Muir Nelson
1927 - 1939
Career position - Maintenance Engineer, Brisbane Tramways Trust
February 1927
Career event - Associate Member (AMIEAust), Institution of Engineers Australia
1939 - 1946
Career position - Military Service, Royal Australian Engineers
September 1942
Award - Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), for military service in the Middle East
February 1943
Award - Distinguished Service Order (DSO), in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the Middle East
August 1943
Career event - Member (MIEAust), Institution of Engineers Australia
July 1945
Award - Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), for military services in recognition of gallant and distinguished services in the South West Pacific
1946 - 1947
Career position - Superintending Engineer, Brisbane Tramways
1947 -
Career position - Councillor, Institution of Engineers Australia
1947 - 1948
Career position - Deputy Manager, Brisbane Tramways
1947 - 1949
Career position - Honorary Secretary, Brisbane Division, Institution of Engineers Australia
1948 - 1949
Career position - General Manager (acting), Brisbane Tramways
1 October 1949 - June 1970
Career position - Chairman, Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board
June 1958
Award - Companion of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB), for distinguished service in the Field.
June 1970
Award - Knight Bachelor

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