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Alexander Duncanson

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Alexander Duncanson (1819-1906) of he Liverpool Waterworks

1907 Obituary [1]

ALEXANDER DUNCANSON was born in 1819, near Dunfermline in Fifeshire, and served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Caird and Company, Shipbuilders, of Greenock.

In 1845 he entered the service of the Bootle Waterworks Company, which, with the Liverpool and Harrington Company, at that time supplied Liverpool with water. Whilst in their service, Mr. Duncanson rendered valuable assistance to the company's engineer, the late Michael Scott, in connection with improvements in the pumping machinery, which resulted in a considerable saving being effected.

In 1848 the water companies were taken over by the Liverpool Corporation, to whom Mr. Duncanson transferred his services, acting as Assistant Engineer under the late Mr. Thomas Duncan until that gentleman’s death in 1869. During that period Mr. Duncanson had charge of the pumping stations and machinery, and superintended the sinking of a new well and the construction of an engine-house at Bootle. He also carried out a series of experiments on the yield of wells at Rivington for the late Mr. Robert Stephenson, Past-President.

In 1869 he became acting Water Engineer, and had sole management of the waterworks until 1872, when Mr. G. F. Deacon was appointed Borough and Water Engineer. Mr. Duncanson also held charge of the public baths and wash-houses of Liverpool, and was responsible for the design and construction of four large establishments.

In 1881 Mr. Deacon devoted himself entirely to the work of carrying out the Vyrnwy water-supply, and Mr. Duncanson as Deputy Water Engineer became responsible for the home work. This arrangement continued until 1890, when failing health necessitated his relinquishing part of his duties, and in the following year he definitely retired from professional pursuits at the age of 71, having been in the service of the Corporation for 43 years.

Although essentially a practical man, a type of the engineer whose shrewd common-sense contributed largely to the advancement of engineering during the past century, the scientific side of his profession always held a deep attraction for Mr. Duncanson. He made some valuable researches on the flow of water in pipes, and was one of the first to advocate the systematic flushing of sewers and drains. For several years Mr. Duncanson held a commission in the 2nd Lancashire Engineer Volunteers.

He died at Liverpool on the 20th January, 1906, at the advanced age of 86.

He was elected a Member of The Institution on the 7th March, 1876.

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