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Albert Johnstone Campbell

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Albert Johnstone Campbell (1854-1907)

of Read and Campbell (Contractors)

1907 Obituary [1]

ALBERT JOHNSTONE CAMPBELL, born at Stoke on the 7th December, 1854, was the last surviving member of the ancient family of Campbells of Glen Saddel. After being educated at Rugby, he entered the Royal School of Mines, of which he gained the Associateship in 1876. The next 4 years were spent in studying practical mining arid engineering in Cornwall and Spain.

In 1880 he was appointed General Manager of the Trojes and Aujangeo Silver Mines and Smelting Company, Mexico, a position which he held for 3 years.

In 1883 Mr. Campbell joined Mr. H. V. Rudston Read in partnership as Consulting Engineers in London, with a branch establishment in Mexico, and whilst in that country he carried out many important engineering works, both for the Mexican Government and for private clients, the most notable undertaking with which he was connected being the construction of the Tequixquiac Tunnel for the drainage of the Valley of Mexico. This tunnel was originally designed to be nearly 10 miles long, but owing to water difficulties and the nature of the ground, it was decided during the course of its construction to open up more than 3 miles of it, leaving the total length of the tunnel, as eventually completed, about 6.25 miles. The construction of this tunnel involved many interesting problems, in the solution of which Mr. Campbell displayed great skill and resource.

The entire work took about 8 years to complete, and at the date of completion was the longest tunnel in existence completely lined with brickwork and cement blocks. Mr. Campbell's achievement was officially recognized by the Government of Mexico, and subsequently his firm was awarded a Gold Medal by the Committee of the Chicago Exhibition in recognition of the magnitude and importance of the work and its successful execution.

At a later date Mr. Campbell was jointly responsible with his partner, Mr. Rudston Read, for the construction of the Mexican Southern Railway, commenced in 1889 and completed in 1892. This line was the first railway in Mexico to cross the Sierre Madre Range, being thence continued down the Pacific slope. The whole time originally allowed for the construction of the railway was 10 years, but subsequently for political reasons a large bonus was offered for its completion in 3 years. Within the latter period the work was completely carried out and handed over, with the line fully ballasted and all masonry, culverts, and bridges in position, the full bonus being thus earned by Mr. Campbell's firm. A section of this railway is probably one of the heaviest pieces of work in the country, 60 miles of line being constructed in an almost impassable cafion. In the construction of this portion, 150 miles of side-roads had to be made for carrying supplies to the workmen, of whom 8,000 were employed at one time.

In 1896 Mr. Campbell returned to England and carried on consulting practice in London. The zeal and energy which he devoted to his work in Mexico told ultimately upon his health, and the illness which led to his deat,h was traceable to fevers eontracted many years before in the Mexican swamps.

He died on the 23rd March, 1907, aged 52.

Mr. Campbell was elected an Associate Member of The Institution on the 14th April, 1885.

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