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John Lawton Haddan

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John Lawton Haddan (1841-1880)

1880 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN LAWTON HADDAN was born on the 3rd of June, 1841.

He was educated at a private school at Brighton, on leaving which he joined the classes for mechanics at King’s College, London, where he early evinced a predilection for mechanical subjects. At this time he also attended lectures on chemistry at the City of London School, where his experiments in this branch led to several narrow escapes.

His introduction to the engineering profession was as a pupil to Mr. Henry Ashton, architect and surveyor, with whom he remained from 1855 to 1857.

He then entered the works of Messrs. C. De Bergue and Co. at Manchester, where he passed through the shops and afterwards the office. He attained considerable skill in modelling iron girder-bridges ; one model about 20 feet long taking him more than nine months to complete. The late Mr. Charles Blacker Vignoles, F.R.S., Past-President Inst. C. E., was at this time constructing the Tudela and Bilbao railway, and he offered Mr. Haddan an appointment as chief draughtsman, from which he rose to take charge of a section, and finally of all the station arrangements, besides being occupied on calculations of the velocity of the river Ebro, deep-sea soundings for a harbour in the Bay of Biscay, &c.

On leaving Spain he proceeded to India, and for two years was engaged by Mr. Berkley, M. Inst. C.E., on the preliminary surveys of the Sholapore to Raichore Extension of the Great Indian Peninsula railway, and in the survey of the town of Sholapore; but the climate not suiting his health, he again took employment under Mr. Vignoles, and was for two years occupied on the construction of thc Warsaw and Terespol railway in Poland.

On returning to England he entered the Surveyor’s department of the Metropolitan Police, where he devised an ingenious plan for regulating London cab fares, which he entitled the "Conrse System.”

In March 1868, he again left England, and until 1873 he held the responsible position of Chief Engineer and Director of Public Works for Syria and the Lebanon in the Ottoman service, and in that capacity constructed 45 miles of carriage roads, besides various iron and stone bridges, a model of one of which he prepared for the Sultan, who, for his services to the Porte, presented him.with the Order of the Medjedie. He projected the Beyrout water supply, built the College of Science and Arts, executed the Sejour irrigation works, and made surveys of the province of Syria for the Euphrates Valley railway, his report on which was embodied in the consular reports presented to the House of Commons.

About this time the Emperor of Austria visited Jerusalem, and Mr. Haddan was deputed by the Porte to show his Majesty the objects of interest, and his Majesty presented him with a valuable diamond ring on leaving that city. During his service under the Porte he laboured under the disadvantage of having to train his staff, instruct native workmen, and prepare his own materials without the assistance of expert foremen as in Europe.

From 1873 to 1875 he was in Constantinople in connection with narrow-gauge railways from Moundania to Broussa, the Ismid railway, and the Roumelian railways, and was appointed a member of the Technical Council of the Ministry of Public Works.

In 1876, Mr. G. P. Harding, being much interested in the question of steam tramways of Paris, engaged Mr. Haddan as chief of his staff, and there he remained until 1875.

His extensive acquaintance with foreign countries and their requirements led him to devise a system of communication termed “Post and rail,” being a single rail combined with a system of continuous driving for use in countries where the traffic would not support railways on the European system, and he devoted the major part of his time during the latter portion of his life to promoting his “pioneer” system of railways. It is believed that over anxiety in regard to this matter hastened his death, which occurred at the early age of thirty-nine years, on the 17th of March, 1880.

Mr. Haddan was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 24th of May, 1870, and was transferred to the class of Members in December 1873.

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