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George Henry Hill

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George Henry Hill (1827-1919), head of G. H. Hill and Sons and largely responsible for Manchester's water supply.

1919 Died at his home, Marple Bridge, at the age of 92. [1]




1921 Obituary [2]

GEORGE HENRY HILL was born on the 2nd August, 1827, and died on the 4th March, 1919, at Ernocroft Hall, Compstall, in Derbyshire, where he had lived for more than 40 years. His early life was spent at Stockport, the home of his father, Mr. Thomas Hill, and he was educated at the school of Mr. Harlings at Chester.

He became a pupil of the late Mr. J. F. La Trobe Bateman, F.R.S., in 1843, and 6 years later was appointed by his chief to be one of his resident engineers in charge of the construction, for the Manchester Corporation, of the extensive system of large impounding reservoirs, known as the Longdendale Works, situated in the upper reaches of the valley of the River Etherow. The ability which he displayed during this time in dealing with great natural difficulties arising from land-slips, floods, foundations, etc., when reliable records and experience in such matters were comparatively limited, led to his being transferred to Scotland for the execution of the scheme which Mr. Bateman had designed for the water supply of Glasgow from Loch Katrine. After supervising the construction of the works at Lochs Katrine, Vennacher and Drunkie, as well as those on the first 15 miles of the aqueduct thence towards the city, he was, in 1861, placed in charge by Mr. Bateman of his practice in the North, with offices in Manchester.

From 1861, until 1880 when he became a partner of Mr. Bateman, he was continuously engaged with his chief on the design and execution of important schemes and works for most of the large towns in this country, and, on several occasions, visited places abroad in connection with matters on which advice was desired there.

Amongst the numerous schemes referred to was that for obtaining water from Thirlmere in the Lake District, at a cost of several million pounds, and conveying it to Manchester, a distance of nearly 100 miles, the necessity for this important extension having arisen on account of the large growth of consumption in the city fo r which the supply available from Longdendale was no longer sufficient. When the time came for proceeding with the execution of the Thirlmere works, the Corporation appointed Mr. Hill to be the sole engineer for their design and construction, and he continued to carry on this and other work connected with his extensive practice after the expiration of the partnership with Mr. Bateman in 1887. The Thirlmere undertaking is described in a Paper which Mr. Hill contributed to The Institution on the 14th April 1896, and for which he was awarded a Telford Medal and Premium.

The Manchester Ship Canal was under construction about this time, and when the Company applied to the Manchester Corporation for financial assistance, in 1891, Mr. Hill was appointed to act on their behalf, with the engineer of the Canal Company, for the completion of the work, in respect of which loans amounting altogether to about £5,000,000 were granted by the city.

In 1892 and 1893 Mr. Hill served as a Member of the Royal Commission on Metropolitan Water Supply under the chairmanship of Lord Balfour of Burleigh, to inquire into the adequacy of the sources from which that supply could be maintained. A few years later Mr. Hill took his two sons, Mr. E. P. Hill and Mr. H. P. Hill, into partnership, under the style of G. H. Hill and Sons.

In addition to advising authorities for whom he was accustomed to prepare schemes of water supply, and subsequently to construct the works involved, Mr. Hills's services were in constant demand in connection with cases before Parliamentary Committees on Private Bills, and in the Law Courts. He knew, with few exceptions, almost every drainage-area suitable for water-works purposes in the kingdom, and he was intimately acquainted with questions of rainfall, having acted on several occasions as referee, over a period of years, to settle the amount of compensation water due to the rivers about to be used for water-works schemes. For many years, when Private Bill legislation was far more active than at present,, few Water Bills of any importance were promoted on which he was not retained on one side or the other. He was frequently appointed umpire, or arbitrator, for the determination of disputes, since his great experience and judicial but genial temperament gave him a peculiar fitness for such positions. It was only towards the latter end of his long career that advancing years at last compelled him to take a less strenuous part in business, and he still preserved his enthusiasm for his profession up to the very end of his life.

Mr. Hill became a Member of The Institution of Civil Engineers in 1872, a Member of the Council in 1897, and served as a Vice- President from 1907 to 1909, then retiring from the latter position because he felt, in view of his increasing years, unable to undertake the further responsibilities attaching to the office of President. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological and Geological Societies.

During the time he was engaged on the Loch Katrine undertaking, Mr. Hill married a daughter of the late Rev. Charles Kenrick Prescot, Rector of Stockport. His wife predeceased him in 1914, and he had a family of two daughters and three sons, who, with the exception of the second son, all survived him.



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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1919/03/14
  2. 1921 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries