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British Industrial History

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John Vipond Davies

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John Vipond Davies (1862-1939)

1880-84 Apprenticed to Parfitt and Jenkins.[1]

Detailed early career in his proposal for membership of the ICE

1939 Obituary [2]

JOHN VIPOND DAVIES, son of Andrew and Emily Vipond Daviea, was born at Swansea, South Wales, on the 13th October, 1862, and died at Flushing, Long Island, on the 4th October, 1939.

He was educated at the Wesleyan College, Taunton, and at London University. In Wales he was engaged in the coal-mining and steel-manufacturing industries until 1889, when he went to New York at the instigation of the late Mr. C. M. Jacobs, with whom he later formed the partnership of Jacobs and Davies. In this earlier association he was employed on the Long Island Railroad during the regime of Mr. Austin Corbin. Later he took up the post of chief assistant engineer of the tunnel under the East River, constructed for the East River Gas Company.

During the course of his distinguished career he held many important positions: consulting engineer to the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company; consulting engineer to the city of Detroit for water-supply and for the tunnel under the Detroit River ; consulting engineer for twenty-six aqueduct tunnels in Mexico; one of the board of three engineers responsible for the construction of the Moffat tunnel in the Rocky Mountains near Denver; engineer in charge of the Astoria tunnel for the Consolidated Gas Company of New York; engineer in charge of the construction of the Hales Bar dam across the Tennessee River at Chattanooga; engineer in charge of the construction of the intake and discharge tunnels of the New York Edison Company; one of two engineers engaged on the tunnel and bridge crossing of San Francisco Bay. He was engineer in charge of design and construction of the West Virginia Short Line and the Kanawha and Pocahontas Railroads, and of the Atlantic Avenue Improvement of the Long Island Railroad. He was also concerned with the crossing of the Mississippi River at New Orleans.

Amongst his major works were the designing and building (in partnership with Mr. Charles M. Jacobs) of the four tunnels under the Hudson River for the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad, the planning of the Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel under the Hudson and East Rivers. He also designed and supervised the building of the Paris Metro tunnel under the Seine and across the Place de la Concorde.

He was elected a Member of The Institution in 1910, and was awarded the Telford Gold Medal in 1914 for his Paper on “ Extensions of the Hudson River Tunnels of the Hudson and Manhattan Railroad Company l.” He was a Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, who awarded him the Thomas Bitch Rowland Prize in 1917 for his Paper on "The Astoria Tunnel under the East River for Gas Distribution in New York City." He was awarded also the Norman Gold Medal in 1913 and the Fowler Professional Award in 1930. He was a member of the American Institute of Mining Engineers, of the American Institution of Consulting Engineers, and of the United Engineering Society, of which he was president from 1920 to 1923.

He was a member of the Pilgrims of the United States, the Engineers Club, and the Railroad Club of New York, of which, for many years, he was a member of the Board of Governors ; he was also a member of St. George’s Society, holding the position of President from 1922-1923.

In 1895 Mr Davies married Ruth Ramsey of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, who died in 1931. They had one son and two daughters.

1939 Obituary [3]

Mr. John Vipond Davies, the noted American civil engineer, whose death is announced by Reuter from New York, was born in Swansea in 1862, but went to the United States early in life. The family went to Newport from Swansea when Mr. Vipond Davies’s father. Dr. Andrew Davies, closed a partnership with his brother Dr. Ebenezer Davies, at that time medical officer of health for Swansea.

In the United States Mr. Davies quickly received recognition, and was the designer and builder, among other works, of four tunnels under the Hudson River. His most famous tunnel was that connecting Manhattan with New Jersey.

1939 Obituary [4]

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