Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Ernest William Moir

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May 1888. For the Forth Bridge.

Sir Ernest William Moir (1862-1933), Civil Engineer of S. Pearson and Son

1862 June 9th. Born

1877 Apprenticed to Alexander Chaplin and Co., maker of locomotives and cranes, at Cranstonhill Engine Works in Glasgow

1880 Second apprenticeship at R. Napier and Sons, Shipbuilders, Glasgow.

Attended evening classes at the Mechanics’ Institute in Glasgow

1882 Entered University College, London, where he studied engineering for two years under Alexander Kennedy.

c1884 Joined Tancred, Arrol and Co., contractors for the Forth Bridge. William Arrol invited him to join the staff in the drawing office, where he became one of Arrol’s four personal assistants. Moir was employed in building the pair of cantilevers on the south side of the bridge. He was also involved in placing the caissons.

1887 he married Margaret Bruce Pennycook. His wife became directly involved in all her husband’s works, calling herself ‘an engineer by marriage’.

c.1889 Engaged on the construction of the 'Old Hudson River Tunnel' for which S. Pearson and Son were the contractors. The original attempt had been abandoned. The 1889 attempt was also abandoned when the backers, Baring Brothers, failed. Work recommenced in 1902 with Charles M. Jacobs as Chief Engineer.[1]

Ernest Moir invented a medical air lock, used in New York for the first time in 1890, which reduced the annual death rate among employees from 25 to 1 per cent.

1901 Ernest W Moir 38, civil engineer, lived in Hampstead with Margaret Moir 36, Reginald Moir 8, Arrol Moir 6, and his sister Janet S Moir 27[2]

Engineering Work: Blackwall Tunnel; Seaham Harbour; Surrey Commercial Docks Extension; G.N. and City Railway and Finsbury Park Terminus of the Brompton and Piccadilly Railway; Admiralty Harbour, Dover; East River Tunnels, New York; Royal Albert Dock Extension (South); Dover Defence Works for Admiralty; served on various Govt. Departmental Committees and Royal Commissions

1911 Ernest William Moir 48, civil engineer, lived in Midhurst with Margaret Bruce Moir 47; they had had 3 children of whom one had died[3]

WWI Comptroller, Inventions Department, Ministry of Munitions; later, in charge of the American Organisation for the M. of M., and, on returning to England, appointed Member of M. of M. Council.

1916 Elected Fellow of University College, London

1921 Patented a diving bell. [4]

1933 June 14th. Died in Knightsbridge[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Engineering Wonders of the World' Vol 2, Ed. Archibald Williams, Thomas Nelson & Sons
  2. 1901 census
  3. 1911 census
  4. The Engineer 1921/01/28
  5. Find a Grave
  • Biography of Sir Ernest William Moir, ODNB