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John Waddell

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John Waddell (1828-1888) was a Scottish-born railway contractor based in Edinburgh.

1828 Born in New Monkland, Lanarkshire

He ran the enterprising and respected firm John Waddell and Sons and went on to complete many routes during the rise of the railways across England during the late 19th century, especially for the NER.

1861 John Waddell 33, railway contractor, lived in Bathgate, with Margaret Waddell 29, Ann Waddell 8, George Waddell 5, Elizabeth Waddell 3, Margaret Waddell 1, Agnes Waddell 2 Mo, Isabell Waddell 16[1]

1871 John Waddell 42, chief magistrate, railway contractor and landowner, lived in Bathgate with Margaret Waddell 49, Ann Waddell 18, George Waddell 15, Elizabeth Waddell 13, Margaret Waddell 11, Agnes R Waddell 10, Robt D Waddell 7, John Waddell 5, Jane Waddell 3, Janet Waddell 10 months[2]

Notable examples of his work include the rebuilding of Putney Bridge in London (1882), the Scarborough and Whitby Railway, completion of the Whitby Redcar and Middlesbrough Union Railway and the Mersey Railway Tunnel.

On 17 February 1883 an agreement was reached with John Waddell to construct a tunnel under the River Thames between Tilbury and Gravesend, work which would have carried trains through to Dover for a potential Channel tunnel, although that proposal was eventually dropped.

He died at his home, 4 Belford Park, Edinburgh on 17 January 1888, aged 60. He left three sons - George, Robert and John, who carried on his business after his death.


1888 Obituary [3]

JOHN WADDELL was born in 1828 at the Gain, near Airdrie.

His early life was spent with his father on the Gain farm; but while still very young he set up as a railway contractor, and for several years carried out contracts of limited extent and importance, thereby gaining the experience which led to the great success he subsequently attained.

The following were the more important works carried out by himself and the firm of which he was the head:— Leadburn and Dolphinton Railway; Carstairs and Dolphinton Railway; Burntisland Sewerage Works; Cleland and Mid-Calder Railway; Camps and Addiewell Railways; Glasgow and Coatbridge Railway; Sighthill Branch Railway; Hawthornden and Penicuick Railway; Millerhill, Loanhead, and Glencorse Railway; widening of the North Bridge, Edinburgh; Byker, Walker, and Percy Main Railway; Sunderland and Monkwearmouth Railway, including the massive iron bridge over the Wear; Leuchars and Tay Bridge Railways; new Dundee Tunnel and Station Works; East Norfolk Railways;. Montrose and Arbroath Railway; Ely and Newmarket Railway; Downham and Stokeferry Railway; James Watt Dock and Harbour Works, Greenock; Tweedmouth Railway; Burndall and Yarmouth Railway; Lofthouse and Whitby Railway; Whitby and Scarborough Railway; Llanelly and Mynydd Mawr Railway; new Putney bridge across the Thames; Clapham and Putney-Hill Sewers; Mersey Railway and Tunnel Works, Liverpool; Edinburgh and South-Side Suburban Railway.

He had for some time been engaged in the development of large coal-fields in South Wales; and at the time of his death was a director of many companies, occupying the chairmanship of the Burntisland Oil Company, the Northern Cable Tramways Company, and the Rosewell Gas Coal Company. He also took great interest in agricultural matters, and was president of the Bathgate Agricultural Association.

In 1863 he was appointed provost of Bathgate, and two years later senior magistrate, an office which he held for ten years, until he removed to Belford Park, Edinburgh. He acted as convener of the building committee of the Edinburgh Exhibition in 1886; and as a member of the local committee for the Summer Meeting of this Institution in Edinburgh last year he gave his assistance in connection with the excursion to the Burntisland Oil Works.

His death took place on 17th January 1888, in the sixtieth year of his age.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1887.


1888 Obituary [4]

MR. JOHN WADDELL, head of the firm of Messrs. John Waddell & Sons, contractors, died at his residence, Belford Park, Edinburgh, on the 17th January last.

Mr. Waddell was born at the Gain, near Airdrie, in 1828, and consequently was in the 60th year of his age at the time of his death. In early life, spent with his father on the Gain farm, he showed that agriculture was not suited to his taste and his energetic habits of life.

He had an early instinct which took his thoughts along the lines which were afterwards those of his life-work; and he was fond of telling how, as a boy, he was struck with the congested state of the traffic on the high-road between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and saw the necessity for developing a new mode of conveyance. Thereafter he asked permission, and, though under the requisite age, was allowed, to sign a petition to Parliament in favour of one of the first Scotch railways, which was at that time being opposed by interested parties.

As a young man he undertook the business of a railway contractor. For several years his contracts were of limited extent and importance, kit he carried them out in a manner which gained for him a thorough and practical experience of every detail of railway and general works construction - an experience which he frequently alluded to as having been the means of doing much to further the successes he subsequently attained. His business qualities soon attracted the notice of eminent engineers, many of whom were anxious to secure his services in the carrying out of the most extensive and difficult works under their charge, and in connection with two of his later undertakings he was honoured with an introduction to the Prince of Wales at the opening ceremony.

Amongst the more important contracts carried out, either by Mr. Waddell himself, or by the firm of which he was the head, were:— The Leadburn and Dolphington Railway; the Carstairs and Dolphington Railway; Burntisland Sewerage Works; St. Andrews Sewerage Works; Cleland and Mid-Calder Railway; Camps and Addiewell Railway; Glasgow and Coatbridge Railway; Sighthill Branch Railway; Hawthornden and Penicuik Railway; Millerhill, Loanhead, and Glencorse Railway; widening of the North Bridge, Edinburgh; Byker, Walker, and Percy Main Railway; Sunderland and Monkwearmouth Railway, including the massive iron bridge which spans the river Wear; the Leuchars and Tay Bridge Railways; the new Dundee Tunnel and Station Works; East Norfolk Railways; Montrose and Arbroath Railway.; Ely and Newmarket Railway; Downham and Stokeferry Railway; James Watt Dock and Harbour Works, Greenock; Tweedmouth Railway; Burndall and Yarmouth Railway; Lofthouse and Whitby Railway; Whitby and Scarborough Railway; Llanelly and Mynydd Maur Railway; the New Putney Bridge across the river Thames; the Clap. ham and Putneyhill Sewers; the Mersey Railway and Tunnel Works, Liverpool; the Edinburgh and South-Side Suburban Railway, and many other works.

Mr. Waddell's firm had been for some time previous to his death engaged in the development of large coal-fields in South Wales. At the time of his death, Mr. Waddell was a director of several influential public companies. He was chairman of the Burntisland Oil Company, of the Northern Cable Tramways Company, and of the Rosewell Gas-Coal Company, &c.

Mr. Waddell took a great interest in agricultural affairs, and was highly successful in the breeding of Clydesdale stock. On the occasion of the recent Edinburgh International Exhibition, lie acted as convener of the Building Committee, and in that capacity had much to do with the success which attended the enterprise in question.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1885.


1888 Obituary [5]



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