The Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

Hudson’s Temporary Scheme

© Prospect Heritage Trust Inc.

In 1885, drought seriously threatened Sydney’s water supply. The Prospect Reservoir and Upper Canal System were only half completed.


The authorities responsible for Sydney’s water supply, namely the Mayor and the Aldermen of the City, called on the Government for help, which resulted in Colonel F. A. Wright, the Minister for Public Works, accepting an offer put forward by Hudson Brothers.

The Hudson Brothers’ Temporary Scheme would result in 13000 mega litres of water being carried directly into Botany Swamps on a daily basis. To accomplish this, in the Upper Canal sixteen concrete dams were built, eight creeks were bridged and twelve hundred cast iron pipes were laid, some of which weighed almost 4 tonnes. As a result of this approximately one million mega litres of water was delivered into Prospect Reservoir. Between the Lower Canal and Botany the Hudson Brothers constructed over three kilometres of timber fluming on timber trestles, twenty-one metres high in some places. This structure carried the water first to a tank at Dog Trap Road, Guildford, then on to a tank at Potts Hill, after which the water was carried in thin sheet-iron pipes to Botany. At the Clyde Works of Hudson Brothers, special machines were designed and made to manufacture these pipes. The Hon. Jacob Garrard, Minister for Public Works, turned on the water supply on 30 January 1886.The joints of the pipes were found to be defective when the water was turned on, but the Hudson Brothers soon overcame this problem.

On 1 February 1886, The Sydney Morning Herald reported:

‘The new stream could be distinctly traced as it flowed into the water previously stored, and for a few days the supplies which will be sent into the City are sure to be discoloured by it. The real merit of the work consists in it having removed all danger of a water famine…The Mayor of Sydney entertained the visitors at a picnic not far from the spot where the event took place, with unusual but very palatable fare, vix., hot juicy steak and potatoes boiled in their jackets: bush tea was also brought in addition to wines, the new water was conspicuous by its absence.’


After the main scheme was completed the emergency work was dismantled.

Temporary fluming and pipeline

Fluming over railway

Fluming of Hudson’s Temporary Scheme