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John Wilson (1846-1922)

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John Wilson (1846-1922) of Chief Engineer of the Great Eastern Railway from 1883 to 1909

1846 Born the son of Robert Wilson, a Merchant

1863-7 Apprenticed as mechanical engineer at the Great Western Railway works at Worcester, and later at the Worcester Engine Co. Supervised erection of a bridge over the River Usk at Abergavenny.

1867-72 Assistant engineer to his uncle Mr Edward Wilson on Parliamentary surveys, including 2 years on the Metropolitan extension of the Great Eastern Railway from London to Walthamstow and to Enfield.

1872-5 Resident engineer on the East Norfolk Railway

1875 Resident engineer on the Banbury and Cheltenham Railway

c.1877 Member of the firm of Edward Wilson and Co; Continued the business after his uncle's death under the name of John Wilson

1878 Elected member of Inst of Civil Engineers

1881 Joined the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

c.1883 Appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Great Eastern Railway

One of his sons, Edward Arthur Wilson, became chief engineer of the Metropolitan Railway


This John Wilson was a distant ancestor of John Wilson (1770-1850) who worked on the Caledonian Canal, the Göta Canal and the Glencorse dam. Two of his sons became civil engineers, one establishing his own business in London and the other travelling the world. They in turn were succeeded by two nephews, one of whom carried on the London consultancy whilst the other (this one) became Chief Engineer to the Great Eastern Railway. They in turn had sons who continued as civil engineers, and grandsons who have diversified into newer branches of engineering[1]

1922 Obituary [2]

JOHN WILSON was born in Glasgow in 1846 and was educated at the Dollar Academy.

He served his apprenticeship in the shops of the Great Western Railway at Worcester, but later was articled to the late Mr. Edward Wilson, who was the Consulting and Constructional Engineer to the Great Eastern, Great Western, Metropolitan and other railway companies.

In 1877 on the death of Mr. Wilson, he became a partner in the firm, and six years later was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Great Eastern Railway, a post he filled for twenty-six years until he retired in December 1909, since when he has continued to act in a consultative capacity.

Among the engineering works with which he was most prominently associated may be mentioned the Metropolitan Extension and the construction of Liverpool Street Station, and the East Norfolk branch for the Great Eastern Railway; the construction of the Banbury and Cheltenham Railway, now part of the Great Western System; and many improvements and extensions on the Great Eastern Railway, including the large developments made in the docks at Lowestoft.

He died on 6th November 1922, aged 76 years.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1881; he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of other technical societies.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Wilsons - A line of engineers, 1982 [1]
  2. 1922 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  • Railway Employment Records, 1833-1956
  • Civil engineer records