Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,518 pages of information and 233,949 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Duncan McLeod

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

Lieutenant-General Duncan McLeod (c1780-1856), of the Bengal Engineers, was a skilful engineer and designed the Moorshedabad Palace and the bridge over the Goomty at Lucknow. He succeeded Major-General Sir Thomas Aubrey as chief engineer for Bengal

1780 February 20th. Born in Ross-shire the son of Sheriff Donald McLeod

1794 Entered the army as cadet

1795 November 28th. Became second lieutenant in the Bengal Engineers

1803 November 13th. Appointed Lieutenant

1805 April 28th. Married at Calcutta to Henrietta Caroline Lestock Friell

1810 February 9th. Appointed Captain

1826 December 1st. Appointed Major

1827 September 28th. Appointed Lieutenant-colonel

1831 June 18th. Appointed Colonel

1841 November 23rd. Appointed Major-general

1842 Major General Duncan McLeod of the Bengal Engineers, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

Surveyed a prospective canal from Calcutta that later became the route of the railway

1847 Chairman of the Great Western of Bengal Railway

1851 November 11th. Appointed Lieutenant-general

Director of the East Indian Railway

He retired to England and became a director of the Agra Bank

1856 June 8th. Died at 3 Clifton Place, Hyde Park, London.

Buried in Kensal Green Cemetery

1857 Obituary [2]

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL DUNCAN MACLEOD, of the Bengal Engineers, the son of Donald Macleod, Esq., of Torbat, in the county of Ross, was born at that town on the 20th February 1780.

In February 1797, he received an appointment as a Cadet of Infantry, on the Bengal Establishment, but was shortly afterwards transferred to the corps of Engineers at that presidency, and in 1806 was employed in making the Barrackpore and Pettah Ghaut Roads.

In 1810, he was appointed superintendent of the new military road from Calcutta to Benares; and in the same year, was selected to survey the river Goomty, with the view of ascertaining the practicability of erecting an iron bridge over it. In the execution of this duty, he received the strongest expressions of the approbation of the Vizier of Oude, and at the earnest solicitation of the Vizier, who desired the further aid of Captain Macleod‘s professional knowledge, not only in superintending the construction of the iron bridge over the Goomty, but also in the execution of some other works of importance, he was allowed to continue at the post, and to undertake the superintendence of the erection of the bridge.

At the same time, in conjunction with another officer, he had the direction of the works of the new military road, an appointment which he resigned in 1813.

In 1816, he became the agent for the manufacture of gunpowder at Ishapore; which post he held until 1820, when he was relieved from it, in consequence of his services being required with his corps.

In February 1822, he returned to Europe, to recruit his health, and while in England, he directed his attention to the processes employed in the manufacture of gunpowder; and with such effect, that on his return to India, in 1825, the government, at his recommendation, ordered very important modifications of the machinery for granulating powder, at the Indian factories.

In July of the same year, he was appointed superintendent of Nizamut buildings, at Moorshedabad. Having matured his plans, he submitted to the government of India, reports regarding the site and plan of the new palace, at Moorshedabad: and the measures he would propose, for clearing and draining the interior of the Kella, and constructing new buildings, for the accommodation of the principal personages of the Nizamut. His plans were considered by the government eminently calculated "to promote the health, comfort, and respectability" of the Nizam, and the members of his family, and he was directed to carry them into effect. This palace is described in Roberts’ "Sketches and Characteristics of Hindostan," as "a fine building, in the European style, of dazzling whiteness, and rising in glittering splendour, amid stately groves of flourishing trees."

The buildings in progress at Moorshedabad, were inspected by Colonel Sir Thomas Aubrey, chief engineer, in 1833, who says in his report;- "I have not during my fifty years’ service, (and I trust that the experience I have gained in that time will obtain for me some credit,) seen such work as Colonel Macleod has executed in the erection of this grand building (the palace) either for the superior excellence of the materials, correctness of the workmanship, and the very beautiful external appearance of the walls and the structure altogether:- the sharp and neat finishing of the masonry, and its regularity of joints, would almost admit of dispensing with plastering, but for the description of the edifice, which without a coating, would be incongruous, and more especially from its peculiar and singularly beautiful architectural character."

This report was submitted to the government of India, by the Military Board, with the expression of their opinion, that it was "highly favourable to Colonel Macleod as an architect and builder of the first order."

The palace was completed in the year 1836. In noticing the opinion given by a committee, specially appointed to inspect the work, its plan and execution, that they were "highly honourable to the professional abilities of Colonel Macleod," the Court of Directors observed:- "The credit due to that officer is the greater, as, with the exception of one young officer, Lieutenant Cunningham, who was placed at his disposal, during a small portion of the time, in consequence of his own unavoidable absence, he had no European assistance, and the building was, as he says, designed and executed by himself, entirely through the agency of natives. We consider it a circumstance of no little importance, that the possibility of executing work of such a description, by native agency, has been established, and we trust, that the experiment so successfully made, will be a source of much saving of expense, hereafter, in the department of public buildings, as well as of permanent benefit to India, by training the native workmen to the highest description of skilled labour, in this important branch of industry."

Whilst engaged on this duty, an experiment suggested by him, for turning the current of the river Bhagruttee into its original channel, in order to protect the city from encroachment, was tried. In noticing the failure of the experiment, the government of India observed:- "It is a subject of regret, that so considerable an outlay should have been made, without full corresponding benefit, the method adopted for turning the channel of the river having failed. But the government were convinced, that reliance might be placed on Colonel Macleod’s professional skill, not to suggest what would not present the best assurance of success that could be commanded."

In 1830, he was appointed a member of a committee to report on the practicability of keeping the river Bhagruttee open.

In November 1831, this committee furnished a report, containing much valuable information, regarding the Nuddeea rivers, and suggesting the construction of a canal, from Rajmahal, on the Ganges, to Mirzapoor, on the Hooghly. In consequence of this report, Colonel Macleod was ordered, in conjunction with Captain Forbes, to examine the country between Rajmahal and the Hooghly, with a view to determine the line for surveys, in order to judge of the practicability of forming the canal.

In 1836, he became a member of a committee, for considering a plan for the protection of the embankments of rivers.

In 1837, he served on a committee, for preparing appropriate designs, for the insignia of the Order of British India, and the Order of Merit, and in, 1839, he was appointed President of a committee, to report on the practicability of establishing steam floating-bridges across the river Hooghly, at Calcutta.

General Macleod finally left India in February 1841, and, in the following year, became an Associate of this Institution, to which he was naturally attracted, by his long and constant practice of engineering duties in India. He frequently attended the Meetings, and urged on all the junior officers of his corps, the necessity of paying marked attention, while in this country, to the construction and design of any public works which might be in progress, with a view to their being enabled, satisfactorily, to hold engineering appointments in the East.

His death occurred on the 8th June 1856, in the seventy-seventh year of his age. As an officer he was greatly admired and respected, and in private life his kindness and uprightness of conduct induced the affection of his relatives and intimate friends, and commanded the esteem of all who had the good fortune to know him.

The dates of his commissions in the Engineer Corps were- Second Lieutenant, 28th November 1795; First Lieutenant, 13th November 1803 ; Captain, 9th February 1810 ; Major, 1st December 1826 ; Lieut.-Colonel, 28th September 1827 ; Colonel, 18th June 1831 ; Major-General, 23rd November 1841 ; and Lieut.- General, 11th November 1851.

See Also


Sources of Information