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John Macglashan

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John Macglashan (1824-1884)

1885 Obituary [1]

JOHN MACGLASHAN, the eldest son of Mr. John Macglashan, of Peterhead, was born on the fifth day of September 1842.

He was educated at the Marischal College, Aberdeen. Selecting the profession of a civil engineer, his studies were directed with that view, and in 1860 he was articled to Messrs. Bell and Miller, MM. Inst. C.E., of Westminster and Glasgow.

Early qualifying for a responsible position, he was deputed Assistant-Resident at the New Albert Docks, then under construction at Greenock, under Mr. John Thompson, as Resident Engineer. These works, to some extent of a novel character, attracted the attention of the late Professor Rankine, who became a frequent visitor during their progress. Mr. Macglashan's method, his constant application and extreme accuracy, did not escape the critical eye of one so well competent to judge as Professor Rankine, who, with great kindliness, recorded his impressions in a complimentary letter of encouragement addressed to the young engineer. Mr. Macglashan acted as Resident in charge of the new Graving Docks constructed for Messrs. Tod and Miller, at Partick. At this time he found leisure to conduct classes of engineering and mechanical drawing at the Glasgow School of Art.

In 1865 he was one of six candidates selected from among numerous applicants for the office of Assistant Engineer to the Port of Dublin, but before the appointment was made he accepted an engagement upon the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, offered to him by Messrs. Hood, Winton and Mills, contractors, and proceeded at once to the Central Provinces to take charge of a section of 20 miles of the works' then in progress between Hurda and Sohagpore. This step seems to have been the decisive one that influenced and determined his future professional life.

After acquitting himself satisfactorily on the contract referred to, upon the works drawing near a close in 1868, he went home, married, and returned at once to India to take up an appointment as Assistant Resident Engineer upon the staff of the Railway Company.

In February 1869, he was placed in charge of the construction of 35 miles of single line it was intended to double, including the reconstruction of an important viaduct over the Waghoor river. After the completion of these works, he directed the maintenance of a district of 200 miles in length, and, later, the reconstruction of important bridges and viaducts upon 83 miles of the Nagpore extension.

The summer of 1874 in India was an unusually hot one; works were pushed on upon the "re-construction" with concentrated energy, as the building-season drew near its close, and the annual rains and floods approached, entailing more than ordinarily severe exposure. In Mr. Macglashan's case it unfortunately led to his prostration by sunstroke, seriously affecting his health at the time, and in its after-consequences aggravating into a chronic form an ailment – asthma - symptoms of which had sometimes shown themselves.

After the completion of the reconstructions upon the Nagpore branch-line, Mr. Macglashan was transferred, in 1876, to the district between Sholapore and Raichore. In the famine year of 1878, the sudden and general failure of the water-supply upon the district referred to and adjacent to it, threatened to interfere most seriously with the traffic of the railway; it was only by the most energetic and unwearying efforts of the engineers and their principal subordinates, that the danger was averted. In this work Mr. Macglashan elicited the warm commendation of the Engineer-in-Chief, and was afterwards deemed worthy of the special thanks of the Board of Directors in London It was then hoped that his health would become re-established; for taking advantage of the privileges of his service as to leave-of-absence, he twice visited Australia, and once the hill-districts of Ceylon, deriving considerable benefit at the time from the change.

Mr. Macglashan’s next and last position, from 1881-83, was on the Dond and Munmar line, with a residence at Ahmednuggar; it was a special appointment, with sole charge of the district, immediately under the Chief Engineer, Mr. Wilson Bell, M.Inst.C.E., and probably kindly directed with special reference to the climatic advantages it afforded. With lapse of time, however, no amelioration of his malady was perceptible, and it needed the courage and firmness of will conspicuous in Mr. Macglashan’s character, to make it possible for him not only to remain at his post, but to continue to discharge his duties ably and energetically.

In May 1883 he went home on furlough, when it was hoped his native air might prove beneficial. There was an apparent rally during the fine summer of 1884, but unhappily a relapse occurred, and he died September the 23rd, in the forty-second year of his age, at Aboyne, Deeside.

Mr. John Macglashan’s personal characteristics were, a singular unselfishness, a kindness of heart, and an affectionate disposition, endearing him not only to his family circle, but to many outside it. He conducted his business-intercourse with others in a way that avoided exciting friction ; and though emphatically a man without guile,” yet more than a match for the guileful man whom he encountered in business ; with all the characteristic shrewdness of his nation, and keenly alive to the interests of the service to which he belonged.

He was elected an Associate Member on the 23rd of September 1875.

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