Local Identities

Charles Edmund Moorhouse (1911– 2002)

By Irma Walter 2019.

Charles Moorhouse was born 1911 in Armadale, Victoria, the son of Rev. William Edmund Moorhouse, and Ruth Elinor Topp. Another son Geoffrey was born in 1913. The family went from Victoria to WA in 1915, where William served as Curate in Bunbury, before his appointment as Rector of the South Bunbury Church. Devastated by the sudden death of his wife Ruth in June 1917, William travelled back to Victoria to place his two small boys in the care of their grandparents, before returning to his position at South Bunbury.

At the end of that year William was back in Melbourne, where he enlisted as an Army Chaplain, leaving almost immediately from Sydney. After serving in France, the Rev. William Moorhouse returned to WA in 1919, this time taking up an appointment at Boyanup near Bunbury. At the end of that year he married Dora Johnston, daughter of Forster Johnston of ‘Leschenault Homestead’ near Bunbury.

In 1921 William Moorhouse was appointed Anglican Minister of Harvey, a position he held until 1924[1]. His son Charles attended the Harvey State School during that year, but in 1922 a decision was made to send the child back to Victoria, where he attended the Melbourne Grammar School, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. The rest of his family went to Victoria in 1928, when William was appointed Principal of the Theological College in Ballarat.[2]

Achievements: After leaving school Charles Moorhouse enrolled at the University of Melbourne, where his family had strong links. Both of his parents had graduated from the University with BA (Hons) in Classics. His maternal grandfather, Charles Alfred Topp, had served there as Warden of the University Senate from 1886-90 and as a member of the Council from 1890-1896, following a career in the top ranks of the Victorian Public Service.

Charles graduated from the University with bachelor degrees in Mechanical Engineering (1933) and Electrical Engineering (1934). He was employed as an assistant engineer with the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, from 1938 – 1945. During WW2 Charles served with the Royal Australian Engineers, and in 1941 he was ‘range finding, at the Maribyrnong munitions works’.[3]

When the War ended, Charles Moorhouse became a senior lecturer in the Electrical Engineering School at the University of Melbourne in 1946. From 1950 as Professor of Engineering he was leading a team conducting research into electronic computers, believing them to be the future for industry.[4] He held the Chair of Electrical Engineering at the University from 1948 until 1976. In 1974 Professor Moorhouse became a member of the Academic Advisory Committee, and in 1976 a member of the Interim Council of Deakin University.

Award: In 1981 Emeritus Professor Charles Edmund Moorhouse was awarded an AM for service to Education, in particular Electrical Engineering.

At the end of an illustrious career, Professor Moorhouse died in 2002.


Ann C Howie (Ed), Who’s Who in Australia, 28th Edition, 1992.

University of Melbourne, https://digitised collections.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/1260.

Canberra Times, 26 January 1981.

Harvey State School Students 1921, Infants Class 1, 2 & 3.

Back Row (L to R): Geoff Pearson, unknown, Newton Hicks, Tom Atkins, Bill Johnson, Llewellyn Gibson, Sydney Johnson, Graham Sharp, Peter Johnson, Arthur Thornton, Jack Pridmore, Bob Smith, Charles Moorhouse, Vernon Moore.

Second Row:  Dora Crampton, Alice Atkins, Joyce Johnson, Evelyn Feazey, Dora Rodway, Kate Hindmarsh, Lily Hicks, Jean Cooper, Mabel Hindmarsh, Flora Lethbridge, Dolly Blowfield, Winnie Gibsone, Enid Roesner, Flo Gibsone.

Third row:  Vera Jones, Bessie Byrd, Jean Ward, Connie Piggott, Peggy Driscoll, Amy Smith, Mary Eckersley, Muriel Williams, Gwen Eldridge, ­­Unknown, Joan Driscoll.

Fourth row:  Mavis Jenkins, Kath Byrd, Violet Davidson, Lou Shenton, Ivy Grieves, Alma Green, Ruby Currell, Emily Knapp, Unknown, Emma Webster.

Front:  Ossie D’Evelynes, Roy Pinner, Bill Mitting, Lew Fryer.

Photo courtesy of Harvey Districts Historical Society, Federation Display.

Moorhouse contributed to Harvey Primary School, 100 Memories 1899 – 1999, edited by Marion Lofthouse née Manning.

I am now 87 years of age…. I recall the names Adam and Eve Hindmarsh mainly because I was impressed by the fact they walked miles to the school. I had a series of fights on the oval to establish my place in the pecking order and recall the boys and girls congregated in separate areas of the playground.

At the age of ten girls tend to be bigger and tougher than boys and woe betide any boy who strayed into their area at playtime.

There were I recall three or four form classes in the same room and I was able to listen in to the adjoining ones as well as my own. There was a day out at the irrigation dam and I won a prize, I think 2/- or so, for coming third in a race for my age group. There were to me mysterious music sessions where we went through a series of Do Re Me Far So la – in a variety of orders. I was puzzled why we did this.

We had I recall some first aid classes including what to do for a broken collarbone. This however was not recognised by our instructor when one boy managed to break his collarbone as the result of a fall ‘cock fighting’ (when the combatants were sitting on the shoulder of bigger boys). At one stage during the year there were boys who trotted in circles around the playground in what to me was a mysterious way – later it occurred to me they were copying trotting races. This I fear is all I can remember of that year apart from learning the poem about the girl who had never been over the Moonbi Range, hearing of Western Australia’s exploration and drawing a map of West Australia.


[1] Joan Bartlett, Journey A history of the Anglican Diocese of Bunbury, Western Australia, 1904 – 2004, Printery Albany, WA, 2004.

[2] Daily News, 24 January 1928.

[3] Camperdown Chronicle, 18 November 1941.

[4] Age, 13 November 1952.