Grafton Bridge: Robert Forbes Moore


Robert Forbes Moore Chief Engineer the Ferro-Concrete Company of Australasia

Robert Forbes Moore (1864-1938) had been born in South America and educated in England, later joining the Royal Engineers.

After moving to Australia, he became involved in mining engineering. In 1891 he married Minnie Herbert Noyes at Launceston, Tasmania. They had one child Nora Kathleen b.1892.

In 1892 he was appointed a provisional Lieutenant in the Wellington Rifle Company of Hobart Tasmania.

In the early 1900s he was employed by the Ferro-Concrete Company of Australasia, becoming its engineer-in-chief based in Auckland.

Moore was responsible for overseeing the company’s construction of extensive works along Auckland’s waterfront, including

The Railway (later King’s) Wharf extension 1904-8

The Ferry Jetty 1907

Queens Wharf 1907-9.

He also oversaw the construction of early reinforced concrete buildings in Auckland such as the Northern Roller Mills building (1907-8), and a breakwater extension and new wharf for the Napier Harbour Board (c. 1906).

Other structures designed by Moore are;

Grafton Bridge 1910

What is now called the Old Mangere Bridge, which cost around £22,000 and was completed in 1915

The Old Panmure Bridge [since demolished] which was opened by Prime Minister William Massey on August the 15th 1916

Moore was also Chief Engineer for the “Soltar” Company which converted the Coal Tar into a form of Asphalt paving and roofing.

Coal Tar is the residue left over from the creation of Coal Gas for lighting and heating.

The Soltar works were located in Beaumont Street next to the Auckland Gas Works.

Moore designed and built his own home in Epsom using the remaining materials left over from Grafton Bridge. This concrete villa still stands in Kipling Avenue (originally no7 now no9 Kipling Avenue).

Moore’s daughter Kathleen married Joseph George Gallagher at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Sydney on the 10th of November 1915.

The stress engendered by the Ferro-Concrete Company’s problem’s and it’s eventual Bankruptcy affected Moore and his marriage.

Problems connected with the Soltar Works may have been a issue as well.

His wife Minnie testified that he began drinking heavily and paying attention to other women. She eventually divorced him in November 1916.

During the First World War Moore was part of the New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company which was intially involved in the Tunneling operations under North Head.

In 1917 he embarked for Europe as part of the 5th Reinforcements on board the Turakina. He attened the rank of sergeant.

He died in Auckland in 1938 aged 73.