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British Industrial History

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George Buchanan

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George Buchanan (1834-1902)

possibly son of George Buchanan (c.1790-1852) of Edinburgh

Married Emily, youngest daughter of Thomas Boosey

Their eldest son was George Buchanan (1865-1940), who was born at Islington on 20 April.

1902 Obituary [1]

GEORGE BUCHANAN, son of Mr. George Buchanan, Engineer, of Edinburgh, and nephew of Professor Faraday, was born in Edinburgh on the 8th December, 1834, and was educated at the High School and the University in that city.

In 1851 he became a pupil of Mr. John Hawkins, Resident Engineer at Granton Harbour, with whom he remained until 1853, when he was taken into the office of Mr. James Walker, Past-President.

There he was engaged until 1858, during which time he gained extensive experience in the design and execution of important works connected with harbours, docks, lighthouses and canals, among which may be mentioned the Government harbours of Dover and Alderney, the Bute Docks, Cardiff, and the Birmingham canals.

In 1859 Mr. Buchanan obtained an appointment from Mr. (afterwards Sir John) Fowler, Past-President, to go to Portugal on railway surveys, and on his return in 1860 he was appointed a Resident Engineer on the works of the Madras Irrigation and Canal Company. Returning from India in 1863, he was next sent to the Argentine Republic to survey and report on a line of railway.

From 1864 to 1868 Mr. Buchanan was engaged in England in the service of Messrs. Smith, Knight and Co., and of Messrs. William and John Pickering, contractors, and in 1869 he was instructed by the Secretary of State for India to survey and report on a proposed line of railway across the Western Ghauts. The work involved was of a most arduous description, and at one time the whole of his staff were laid up with fever, his chief assistant dying in the jungle. The survey, however, was completed to the entire satisfaction of the Government, and Mr. Buchanan returned to England in 1870.

From 1871 to 1878 he remained in this country, being engaged as Resident Engineer on the Whitby and Lofthouse Railway, and as contractors’ Engineer and Agent on the Port Talbot docks and breakwater, and on the graving dock in Devonport Dockyard.

From 1878 to 1887 Mr. Buchanan practised on his own account both in London and in South Africa, his principal work being the design and execution of the Kimberley Waterworks. In these works Mr. Buchanan introduced a novel feature by the use of 14-inch wrought-iron pipes for 17 miles of main, rising 500 feet, the principal reason for their adoption being the great cost of carriage up country. In 1888 Mr. Buchanan went to Malta for a short time as Manager of the Railway, and in 1889 he was appointed by Messrs. Meiggs and Son their Agent on the works of the Chignecto Ship Railway in Nova Scotia. This work, the engineers for which were Sir John Fowler, Sir Benjamin Baker, Past Presidents, and the late Mr. H. G. C. Ketchum, was designed to connect by means of a ship-railway the Gulf of St. Lawrence with the Bay of Fundy.

Well planned and with every prospect of success, the finances of the company unfortunately failed when the railway and docks were on the eve of completion.

Mr. Buchanan returned to England in 1892, and after being engaged on various minor undertakings at home, he retired from active work in 1899. He was a man of untiring energy and unswerving honesty. Of a generous and amiable disposition, he made friends wherever he went.

He married, in 1864, Emily, a daughter of Mr. Thomas Boosey, the music publisher, and the shock caused by her death at Kimberley, in 1882, was one from which he never entirely recovered.

He died suddenly of heart failure at his residence in Chiswick on the 3rd May, 1902. Mr. Buchanan was elected a Member of the Institution on the 24th May, 1870.

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