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James Benjamin Ball

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Sir James Benjamin Ball (1867-1920)


1921 Obituary [1]

Sir JAMES BENJAMIN BALL was born at Cowes, Isle of Wight, on 9th March 1867.

He was articled to Mr. Joseph Hall, Civil Engineer, and began his career on the staff of the Great Northern Railway in 1890.

In 1895 he was engaged under Mr. Elliott-Cooper (afterwards Sir Robert Elliott-Cooper, K.C.B.) as resident engineer on the construction of the Lancashire, Derbyshire, and East Coast Railway and became engineer to that line in 1899.

On the absorption of that railway by the Great Central Railway in 1907, Mr. Ball (as he then was) was appointed assistant engineer for new works to the Great Central Railway Co., and whilst holding that position was mainly responsible for most of the important civil engineering works carried out, including the rebuilding of the Carriage and Wagon Works at Dukinfield, the Gravity Concentration Yard at Wath, the Ardwick and Hyde Junction and Torside to Woodhead Widenings, and the lay-out of the permanent-way, bridges and equipment works in connexion with the new deep-water dock at Immingham then under construction. This latter included the power station and ferro-concrete granary, as well as a large number of ferro-concrete bridges both there and elsewhere on the Great Central system.

In 1911 he was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Railway. Chief amongst his works in this capacity may be mentioned the new railway and roadway bridge over the River Trent at Keadby, in which he was the first engineer in this country to adopt the Scherzer principle for a bridge of that magnitude, which contains an opening span of 160 feet and is the largest and heaviest lifting span in Europe, having a total moving mass of over 3,000 tons.

In 1917 he severed his connexion with the Great Central Railway to succeed the retiring chief engineer of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway in a similar position, but his services were very quickly requisitioned by the Government as Controller of Timber supplies, and his valuable services in that capacity were rewarded by the honour of knighthood in 1918.

1920 His death took Place suddenly from heart failure on 16th September 1920, at the age of fifty-three.

Read his obituary in The Engineer 1920/09/24.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1914; he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.



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Sources of Information

  1. 1921 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries