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James Gordon Brickenden

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James Gordon Brickenden (1848-1887)

1888 Obituary [1]

JAMES GORDON BRICKENDEN, the second son of Major Lambart Brickenden, late 71st Highland Light Infantry, was born at Warninglid (now Lydhurst), Slaugham, Sussex, on the 30th of May, 1848.

He was at school at, Glasgow and Leeds, and lastly at St. Peter’s Grammar School, York, where he won distinction in mechanical and water-colour drawing.

On leaving St. Peter’s, in 1865, he was apprenticed to the late Mr. Joseph Mitchell, M.Inst.C.E., of Inverness, under whom and Mr. Murdoch Paterson, M.Inst.C.E., his partner, he was engaged upon the construction of the Sutherland Railway (Bonar Bridge to Golspie) as assistant to the Resident Engineer. While upon this work he showed himself remarkably quick and apt in picking up information and acquiring professional knowledge.

He was subsequently engaged under Mr. Paterson upon the Parliamentary and working surveys of the Dingwall and Skye Railway (55 miles in length), and as one of that gentleman’s assistants, during the period of the construction of the line, he was frequently upon the works assisting the Resident Engineers. Amid the romantic scenery through which these lines pass, he found plentiful opportunities, in the intervals of professional work, of gratifying his artistic tastes by water-colour sketching.

In 1871 he left Scotland to join the engineering staff of the London and North-Western Railway Company, under the late Mr. William Baker, Member of Council Inst. C.E., Engineer-in-Chief, and he remained in the service of the Company until his death.

From 1871 to 1875 he was engaged upon the preliminary plans and sections of intended new works, and upon the construction of coal and general depots in the north of London.

In 1875 he was appointed Resident Engineer upon the Seaton and Wansford Railway, 114 miles in length, comprising Some heavy works, including viaducts over the rivers Welland and Nene. On the completion of the Seaton and Wansford line, in 1880, Mr. Brickenden was appointed by Mr. Francis Stevenson, M.Inst.C.E., Resident Engineer on the widening of the railway at Stockport, a work which included the doubling of the Stockport tunnel; and in 1881 he was appointed Resident Engineer on the Denton and Dukinfield Railway (14 mile in length).

In May 1883 he became Resident Engineer on the new Exchange Station, Manchester, then in course of erection, and the widening of the line between that station and Ordsall Lane, through the town of Salford.

On the completion of these works in 1885 he entered the Permanent-Way Department as assistant to Mr. S. B. Worthington, M.Inst.C.E., Engineer of the Northern Division of the London and North Western Railway, and shortly afterwards removed to Lancaster.

On Mr. Worthington's retirement, in 1886, the divisions were re-arranged, and Mr. Brickenden was appointed to the new Northern Division, which comprised the northern half of the old division of the same name.

From about this time his health began to decline, and a lengthened stay on the Continent in the early part of 1887, when he suffered from the effects of the disastrous earthquakes in the Riviera, did not have the desired result in restoring him, and though he resumed work on returning from abroad, he never completely regained his strength.

In the autumn he went over to Dublin to undergo a course of massage, but died there on the 4th of November, 1887.

Mr. Brickenden combined with his professional gifts a keenly appreciative aesthetic sense, for which his favourite medium of expression was painting in water-colours; he was also a good amateur photographer. He took some interest in the study of geology, and was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society in 1878. Of his personal qualities this is not the place to speak, further than to say that his painstaking thoroughness and courtesy inspired respect in all with whom he came in contact professionally, and affection in more intimate circles.

He was a Student of the Institution from October 1872 until February 1875, and was elected a Member in May 1882.

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