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James Williamson

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James Williamson (1881-1953) M.Inst.C.E.. of James Williamson and Partners

Educated at Royal Tech. Coll., Glasgow, and Glasgow Univ.

Chief Assistant., Formans and McCall, C.E., Glasgow

Asst. Engineer., Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Co.

Sectional Engineer., Gretna Munitions Factory, with S. Pearson and Son, Ltd.

Chief Engineer., Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners

Consulting Engineer, Westminster

By 1939 Chief Engineer and Director, Sir William Arrol & Co., Ltd.

1947 Formed James Williamson and Partners with Mr. E. J. K. Chapman and Mr. W. Young.

Author of "Surveying and Field Work" (revised 1938), Constable.



1953 Obituary [1]

ENGINEERS and particularly those engaged in the profession of civil engineering will have learned with regret of the death of Mr. James Williamson, which occurred on August 18th, in his seventy-third year.

Mr. Williamson, who was the senior member of the firm of James Williamson and Partners, which he formed in 1947 with Mr. E. J. K. Chapman and Mr. W. Young, was well known for his work on hydro-electric and water power schemes. His work in this field extended over many years, going back to 1923, when be was concerned with the Humber Arm water power scheme and paper mill in Newfoundland and also the Galloway water power scheme.

In recent years he was closely associated with hydroelectric development in Scotland and in 1941 was appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland a member of the Cooper Committee to investigate such developments.

James Williamson was born on April 5, 1881, at Westfield Farm, Holytown, and received his early education at the nearby Uddingston Grammar School and afterwards proceeded to the Royal Technical College and Glasgow University to follow a course of technical education.

During the four years from 1899 to 1903 he served an apprenticeship with the Engineer to the Middle Ward of the County of Lanark and gained experience in the design of drainage, sewage purification works, highways and bridges.

Subsequently he joined the firm of Formans and McCall as an assistant engineer, becoming chief assistant in 1907, and during those years was largely engaged in railway construction work. This included the building of the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire extension lines of the Caledonian Railway, surveys of that railway and of the Paisley and Barrhead railway, and work on gravity marshalling sidings on the Clydebank Dock Branch Railway.

In the immediately succeeding years Mr. Williamson was in charge of a variety of work ranging from drainage systems to dock and harbour extensions and including a considerable amount of structural design of diverse character, such as the steelwork for large buildings, factory extensions.

He did some estate work and temporarily returned to railway activity when he prepared plans for the Dingwall and Cromarty Light Railway before spending a year with the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Company, gaining additional experience in structural design and manufacture.

In 1913 he was again with Formans and McCall, being mainly engaged on structural work for the Aberdeen passenger station, a biscuit factory and some water supply projects.

The beginning of the first world war found Mr. Williamson in charge of surveys for a cordite factory at Ardler and for an 80-mile broad and narrow-gauge railway system for H.M. Explosives Factory at Gretna, Scotland, and also on the preparation of plans for the factory. Later he was transferred to S. Pearson and Son, Ltd., the construction managers for the Gretna factory, and became chief of the civil engineering department responsible for the acids and gun-cotton section.

For a few months in 1917 Mr. Williamson occupied a similar position with the Ministry of Munitions at the Henbury explosives factory near Bristol and then joined the Royal Engineers with the rank of lieutenant. In this capacity he was engaged on design work connected with the channel train ferries and reinforced structures for the Richborough port and certain aerodromes, and was then seconded for work on various reinforced concrete barges and tugs, which were built at Shoreham Shipyard.

For two years, 1920-22, Mr. Williamson was in private practice in Westminster and then became chief engineer to Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners and continued with them until 1936. Many major works were carried out under his charge, including the Barking power station, Ipswich harbour extensions, the Maentwrog hydro-electric scheme of 24MW capacity, the 102MW Galloway water power scheme and the preparation of designs for the Humber Arm and Gander Valley water power and paper schemes in Newfoundland, and the Uhl River water power scheme, Mandi State, India.

In addition to the above many important miscellaneous works were dealt with, ranging from a colliery ropeway, a shipyard fitting-out quay, flood prevention measures and harbour schemes to train ferry bridges.

Following a year in which Mr. Williamson reverted to private practice as a civil engineer, he accepted an invitation, in 1938, to join Sir William Arrol and Co., Ltd., as a director and chief engineer, and he continued to occupy this position for the next six years.

During this period he supervised the design and construction of bridges, factory buildings, the establishment and equipping of shipyards, and the assembling and launching of tank landing craft at Alloa. Items of special interest were the construction of a cylindrical steel chamber for testing model aeroplanes under high or low pressure at speeds up to 600 m.p.h. and the rapid building of an aeroplane factory near Chester.

As already mentioned, Mr. Williamson served, in 1941, on the Cooper Committee, wh1ch reported on hydro-electric development in Scotland and, following the constitution of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board in 1943, he was appointed a member of the panel of consulting engineers to the Board. Since then he had been employed in planning hydro-electric developments in the Board's area.

In 1943 he collaborated with Freeman Fox and Partners in preparation of a report on further hydro-electric development in North Wales covering schemes having a potential of 300,000kW.

In the following year, Mr. Williamson began practice as a consulting civil engineer in Glasgow, and three years later, in 1947, as already noted, the firm of James Williamson and Partners was constituted.

Since 1944 he had supervised much work for the Hydro-Electric Board, including the civil engineering works for the 130,000kW Loch Sloy project, the Glen Lussa scheme in Kintyre, the Lawers scheme, and the 59,000kW Lyon-Lochay scheme, and his firm has also been responsible for civil engineering work for a number of new steam stations.

Mr. Williamson, who was made a C.B.E. for his work, was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He read a number of papers before that institution and elsewhere and was also the author of a number of technical books.


1953 Obituary [2]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1953/09/04
  2. 1953 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries