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Daniel Kinnear Clark

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Daniel Kinnear Clark (1822-1896) of Edinburgh.

1854 Locomotive Superintendent of the Great North of Scotland Railway.

1858 11 Adam Street, Adelphi. [1]


1896 Obituary [2]

DANIEL KINNEAR CLARK was born in Edinburgh on 17th July 1822, being the youngest of three sons of Mr. Daniel Clark, a merchant of that city.

After serving his apprenticeship from 1839 to 1845 at the Phoenix Iron Works of Messrs. Thomas Edington and Sons, Glasgow, he became mechanical engineering draughtsman to Mr. John Miller of Edinburgh, who was chiefly connected with railway work. Here he utilized his spare time for two years as assistant editor of a local publication entitled the "Practical Mechanic and Engineer's Magazine."

On leaving Mr. Miller's office in 1848 he entered the locomotive department of the North British Railway in Glasgow, but removed to London in 1851 to become engineer to the Deep Sea Fisheries Association, a post he retained until his return to Scotland in 1853.

In 1852 he contributed two papers to this Institution on the expansive working of steam locomotives (Proceedings 1852, pages 60, 109), which produced a discussion that added greatly to the knowledge of the locomotive.

In 1853 he became locomotive superintendent of the Great North of Scotland Railway; but as the retention of this position involved a permanent residence in Aberdeen, he resigned it after a tenure of about eighteen months.

His first published work of importime was "Railway Machinery," which is even now regarded as a standard work on railway rolling stock. Originally published in parts and completed in 1855, this book at once established his reputation as an authority on locomotive engines. In the course of the six years occupied in its compilation he visited nearly all the railway works in England and Scotland. During his visits to London in connection with its publication, he was brought into contact with some of the leading engineers of that day, on whose advice he decided to commence practice in London as a consulting engineer.

In 1855 he accordingly settled in the Adelphi, where he continued to practice for the rest of his life. The reputation which his "Railway Machinery" achieved in America led to his introduction to the late Zerah Colburn on the occasion of his coming to England shortly after its publication; and their meeting resulted in the publication in 1860 of a supplementary volume embracing the more recent practice in English and American locomotives.

In 1853 he contributed to the Institution of Civil Engineers the first of a series of papers on the "Experimental Investigation of the principles of the Boilers of Locomotive Engines." Thirty years later these contributions were supplemented by a paper on the "Behaviour of Steam in the Cylinders of Locomotives during Expansion."

In 1862 he was appointed superintendent of the machinery department of the International Exhibition held in London; and at its close received the thanks of the Commissioners of the Exhibition for the able manner in which his difficult and delicate duties bad been carried out. A cyclopedia of the machinery, written by him, was published in 1864, entitled "The Exhibited Machinery of 1862; " and a paper on the "Locomotive Engines in the International Exhibition of 1862" was contributed to this Institution (Proceedings 1863, page 78).

In 1869 and again in 1871 he proceeded to Egypt as Sir John Fowler's representative, to report on the railways of the country, and to prepare plans for a scheme of agricultural irrigation and for the construction of a ship railway at the first cataract of the Nile. Returning to London in 1872 he devoted himself mainly to literary work, the pursuit of which was well adapted to his studious tastes and retiring disposition.

In 1877 was published his "Manual of Rules, Tables, and Data for Mechanical Engineers," on which he had bestowed several years of labour in order to render it as perfect and complete as possible; it enjoys a high reputation as a leading work of reference, more especially among American engineers.

In 1879 appeared his book on "Fuel; its Combustion and Economy," which may to some extent be regarded as the sequel to an invention brought out in 1857, having for its object the perfect combustion of fuel in furnaces by means of jets of steam introduced into the fire-box over the coal; this plan had already been applied successfully to a large number of stationary and locomotive boilers.

In 1880 he was appointed testing engineer to the Smoke Abatement Committee, and in that capacity carried out a largo number of tests of fuels and of heating and cooking apparatus in connection with the exhibitions held at South Kensington in 1881 and 1882, the results of which were embodied in a report published in 1883. His first work on "Tramways; their Construction and Working" was published in 1878, and was followed by supplementary and enlarged editions in 1882 and 1894.

In 1892 was published his "Mechanical Engineer's Pocket Book," a comparatively little known but valuable work, containing a vast amount of original and useful information.

By far the most important of his later works is "The Steam Engine a treatise on Steam Engines and Boilers," published in 1892. It is probably by this exhaustive treatise that he will be best known to posterity; it may in fact be regarded as the master-piece of a long life devoted to the interests of the engineering profession.

His last work, which was placed in the publisher's hands only a short time before his death, was an enlarged edition of his earlier work on "Tunnelling."

The concluding years of his life were saddened by ill health resulting from over-work, which forbade all mental activity except at rare intervals.

His death took place at his residence in Buckingham Street, Adelphi, Loudon, on 22nd January 1896, at the age of seventy-three.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1854, and was a Member of Council in 1863-4.


1896 Obituary [3]

DANIEL KINNEAR CLARK, born on the 17th July, 1822, was the youngest of the three sons of Daniel Clark, a merchant, of Edinburgh.

His taste for mechanics showed itself at an early age; and there is now in the possession of his relatives a MS. entitled 'A Descriptive History of the Steam Engine from the Earliest Age,' written by young Clark in 1836, when fourteen years old.

He commenced life as a teacher of mathematics at the Edinburgh Grammar School. He speedily tired, however, of the drudgery and monotony of teaching, and, in 1839, apprenticed himself to Thomas Edington and Sons, of the Phoenix Ironworks, Glasgow. At the expiration of his apprenticeship in 1845, he entered the service of John Miller, of Edinburgh, and in the following year became principal draughtsman in that gentleman’s office. During two of the three years he remained in Edinburgh, Mr. Clark utilised his spare time as assistant editor of the Practical Mechanic and Engineer’s Magazine. He left Mr. Miller in November, 1848, and then served in the Locomotive Department of the North British Railway.

It was at this period that Mr. Clark came into contact with Blackie and Son, a meeting which resulted in the publication of his first book. . . . [more]


1896 Obituary [4]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1858/07/30
  2. 1896 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  3. 1896 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  4. Engineering 1896 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index