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British Industrial History

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John Chisholm

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John Chisholm (1777-1856)


1857 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN CHISHOLM, born in the year 1777, was a nephew of the late Mr. Thomas Simpson, of the Chelsea Water-Works.

He was brought up as a practical millwright, and was remarkable, in early life, for his skill both as a workman and as a draughtsman.

He was a man of herculean frame, possessed of strong natural ability, and had a most retentive memory ; whilst decision and integrity were prominent features in his character.

After remaining some time in the employment of his uncle, he went to Lancashire, at a period when the millwrights held almost undisputed sway over mills and machinery. There he added greatly to his practical acquirements, and on his return to London became a member of the old millwrights’ society.

Subsequently he accepted employment under the late Mr. Rennie, who, a few years later, recommended him for the situation of Resident Engineer of the Londonderry Water-Works, the duties of which he performed in a very satisfactory manner, attending at the same time to other important works, including a large flour mill, which he constructed under Mr. Rennie’s able direction.

In the year 1812, he was, at Mr. Rennie’s recommendation, appointed by the Government to construct the water-works at Cape Town, Cape of Good Hope, which, with the exception of a brief period, during Sir B. D'Urban’s governorship, ever after remained under his direction. He also entered into general practice in the colony, and the late Lord Charles Somerset, when governor, entrusted him with some important works, including the laying out and making of the road from Cape Town to Simon’s Town, the construction of water-works at Simon’s Town, at Government House, Newlands, as well as at several other places.

Mr. Chisholm’s death occurred, in August 1856, at his residence in Cape Town, in the 79th year of his age. He was much and deservedly esteemed and regretted in the colony, but his long and continued residence abroad did not enable him to enter into the proceedings of the Institution, which he joined, as a Member, in the year 1843.



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