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John Bernard Hartley

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John Bernard Hartley (1814-1869)


1872 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN BERNARD HARTLEY, the only son of Mr. Jesse Hartley, Engineer and Dock Surveyor at Liverpool from 1824 to 1860, was born at Dungarvon, county of Waterford, on the 3rd of September, 1814.

His early youth was passed in Yorkshire, at Pontefract and the immediate neighbourhood, where the family of the Hartleys had resided for a considerable period, engaged as county surveyors and bridge-builders, and in the designing and construction of important engineering works.

He received his primary education at Giggleswick Grammar School, near Settle in Yorkshire, and lastly under the Rev. William Shepherd, LL.D., the celebrated divine and excellent scholar of Liverpool.

In 1829, at the age of fifteen, he was taken into training by his father, and placed in the millwright’s shop at the Dockyard Liverpool. It was whilst engaged here, and in the other workshops attached to the Dock Estate, that young Mr. Hartley became initiated into a practical knowledge of the details of his profession.

Subsequently, and with a further educational view, he was, in 1835, articled for a short term to the late Mr. James Walker, Past- President Inst. C.E., an intimate friend of his father.

In 1840 Mr. J. B. Hartley commenced business in Liverpool on his own account. Up to this time he had mainly assisted his father in works and engagements, among which may be enumerated the Manchester and Bolton Railway, the Harrington Docks near Liverpool for the Harrington Dock Company, surveys of Sunderland Harbour, of Port Carlisle, and of Whitehaven Harbour, besides surveys, inspections, and reports on works of a minor character.

In November, 1842, he was appointed Consulting Engineer for the new works then about to be commenced by the Hull Dock Company; and between that date and October, 1858, when he resigned the appointment, he had designed and executed the Railway Dock with its sheds and warehouses, the Victoria Dock and Basin, the Ferry-boat Dock and Piers, and the Junction Dock Warehouses. The area of water-space was increased by this dock-extension at Hull from 21 acres, or thereabouts, to 49 acres.

On the successful completion of these works, the following resolution was unanimously passed at the Annual General Meeting of the Company, held on the 2nd of February, 1854: “That Mr. J. B. Hartley be informed that the Court of Proprietors of the Hull Dock Company entirely agree with the expression contained in the Annual Report of their Directors, of the zeal and ability with which Mr. Hartley has conducted the extensive works intrusted to his management, and brought them to a satisfactory termination; and, as a mark of the high estimation which the Proprietors of this Company entertain of the character and professional talents of that gentleman, of their personal esteem, and as a memento of his long connection with the Port of Hull, the Directors are hereby authorized to expend the sum of £l05 in the purchase of such a testimonial as Mr. Hartley may be pleased to select, to be presented by them to Mr. Hartley on behalf of, and in the name of, the Hull Dock Company.”

In 1847 Mr. J. B. Hartley was appointed one of the surveying officers for Admiralty inquiries, under the 9th and 10th Vict., cap. 106, and in that capacity held inquiries on Bills for the Southampton and Dorchester Railway, the Portsmouth and Fareham Railway, the Windsor and Slough Railway, the Windsor, Staines, and South Western Railway, the Swansea Docks, the South Wales Railway, and the Staines, Ascot, and Wokingham Railway. He was also engaged at this time, and subsequently, on the lighthouses at the mouth of the Lune near Lancaster, the Morecambe Bay Docks and Harbour, the Hull and Barnsley Railway, the Pontefract and Goole Railway; also for docks at Purton Pill on the Severn, the drainage of Port Madoc, the docks at Silloth Bay, a graving dock at Grimsby, and on a proposed scheme for docks and a harbour at Cardiff.

He was also consulted on works B)r the improvement of the ports of Bremerhaven and Genoa, as well as at various other places where questions arose relating to the construction of dock and harbour works.

In July, 1847, he was specially appointed by the Liverpool Dock Trustees to act, in conjunction with his father, as Engineer of the Liverpool Docks. But by far the most arduous and anxious labours were those which occupied him during the contest that arose on the proposal to construct a deep-water basin and docks at Birkenhead, on designs prepared by the late Mr. James Meadows Rendel, Past-President Inst. C.E.

From 1844 to 1856, in every session of Parliament, this contest was maintained almost without intermission.

In 1855 the warfare ceased, by the transfer of the Birkenhead Dock Estate to the Corporation of Liverpool, from whose hands it passed, on the 1st of January, 1858, to the Liverpool Dock Trustees, since recognised under the title of “The Mersey Docks and Harbour Board.”

In the interval that elapsed between the purchase of the Cheshire or Birkenhead Estate by the Corporation of Liverpool and its transfer to the Liverpool Dock Board, as well as subsequently, Mr. J. B. Hartley held the appointment of Engineer of the Birkenhead Docks. He also superintended on behalf of the Corporation of Liverpool, and in conjunction with the late Sir William Cubitt, Past-President last. C.E., the construction of the Prince’s floating Landing-stage at Liverpool.

Associated as Mr. J. B. Hartley was throughout the whole of his professional career with his father in the construction and management of the Liverpool Docks, any record of the life of the younger Hartley would be necessarily imperfect that did not include a brief allusion to his father Mr. Jesse Hartley, and also some account of the Liverpool Docks, the scene of their united labours.


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Sources of Information

  1. 1872 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries