William Kelliher

William Kelliher is our Alumni profile due to his work at Main Roads and unique history with the RAAF during World War Two.


When did you first join Main Roads?

First joined Main Roads early 1951 and was assigned to work with Principle Engineer Clifford Rees, who gave me the job of resurrecting the materials laboratory which have fallen into disarray over the war years. I oversaw the laboratory which has fallen into disarray over the war years. I oversaw the set up of labs at Moora, Narrogin, Northam and Carnarvon and then switched to construction work under Metropolitan District Engineer H Smith.

Round 1955, there were stirring of industrial development in the form of the Kwinana oil refinery and I was seconded to take charge of the road developments within Medina town site and the refinery. As that came to an end, I took over control of construction of the interchange area at the Narrows Bridge and the first section of freeway in Western Australia (Kwinana Freeway).


What area of Main Roads did you work in?

When the project came to an end in late 1959, I was promoted to Divisional Engineer in the Moora Division where I served till 1963. In that year I was transferred to Head Office as Assistant Chief Engineer with Mr D Davies Planning Branch to help develop the Main Roads portion of the Metropolitan Region Plan.

When Mr Davies retired I took over the portfolio of Planning and Traffic Principle Engineer and saw out my time with Main Roads until my retirement at 60 years of age in July 1981 except that for the last 12 months of service I did an efficiency review of the department at the request of the commissioner.


What is your fondest memory of working at Main Roads?

Hard to pick as I have many fond memories of the old Main Roads. It was quite a small outfit when I joined in 1950 with Jim Young as Commissioner and Digby Leach as his 2IC. The annual budget would just about finance the tea money in today’s depreciated currency and we were housed in depilated offices in the old pensioner barracks, of which only the tower survives with the rest having been demolished for the Mitchell Freeway.

My first assignment, under the direction of Principle Engineer, Clifton Rees was to resurrect the old soils testing laboratory and then to set up subsidiary’s in the Divisions. This gave me a great opportunity to get to know the staff in Northam, Narrogin, Bunbury, Geraldton and Carnarvon and meet some interesting people. I moved on from that to Metropolitan Division under Herbert Smith. The construction of the Serpentine Dam was about to start so I was involved in the survey and construction of the access roads. After a short stint here, I was immediately seconded to supervise the town site roads for Medina (For the Public Works Department) and the roads for the Kwinana oil refinery. I found this work very interesting as it required much liaison with PWD and the construction people on the refinery project.

Another fond memory I have during my time at Main Roads was when I was promoted to Principle Engineer of Planning and Traffic, responsible for forward planning of freeways and Main Roads and Traffic Engineering. This is where I finished my career after spending twelve months preparing an efficiency report on the operations of the Department for the Commissioner (Don Aitken).


Modified: 25 Jul 2014