Topic: Davis, Charles Llewellyn

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C. L. Davies was clerk to the Lincoln Road Board when, in 1881, the Selwyn County Council asked him to become the first manager of its water race. His duties were to survey and supervise the extension of the water-race system

In the cemetery of St George's Church, Kirwee a marble headstone, topped by a low spire, bears the inscription: "In memory of Charles Llewellyn Davies. Died 24th August, 1903. Aged 58 years. Erected by the residents of the Malvern Water-Race District in grateful recognition of his faithful services."

The inscription is encrusted with lichen and is barely legible, few of today's residents of Malvern County remember C. L. Davies. But it is only because of his drive and expertise that they still have a water-race system for their stock  and, in some cases, their homes.

C. L. Davies was clerk to the Lincoln Road Board when, in 1881, the Selwyn County Council asked him to become the first manager of its water race.
His duties were to survey and supervise the extension of the water-race system, which at that time was rapid. But he is remembered mainly for two major works, one successful and one not. The unsuccessful scheme was the tunnel-and-flume headworks at the Waimakariri Gorge which collapsed in 1908 and was promptly abandoned for half a -century. The successful scheme was the "new" headworks in the Kowai River, below Porters Pass.

Severe floods in 1902 not only wrecked the dam that had been built across the Kowai 25 years earlier, but severely damaged the tunnel that carried the Kowai's water into the main Malvern race. Davies, when the flood had subsided, found that it would cost at least £4500 to repair the damage, and it was doubtful whether the headworks, if repaired, could withstand another flood. So he advised the council to abandon the first dam, and to build a new dam about seven furlongs up the river, just below the junction of the Kowai and Thirteen Mile Creek. From there, an open race could be made to take the water to the existing main race.

Sir Arthur Dudley Dobson, then plain A. D. Dobson, the council's consulting engineer, put his weight behind Davies, and urged the council to accept the scheme, even though it meant several chains of cutting through solid rock, construction of a large flume, and the concreting of the race for quite a way along the top of the river terrace. The council finally accepted the scheme, and it proved to be hugely successful although enlarged over the years, the headworks, basically as Davies and Dobson designed them, are still in use.

The site was also the deathbed for C. L. Davies: he dropped dead in 1903 while working at the intake.

 Source: The Press, 24 December 1977, pg 15

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Davis, Charles Llewellyn


First Names:Charles Llewellyn
Last Name:Davis
Date of Death:1903
User Name:Selwyn Library