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British Industrial History

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Robert William Peregrine Birch

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Robert William Peregrine Birch (1845-1896)

1896 Obituary [1]

ROBERT WILLIAM PEREGRINE BIRCH was born in London on 25th September 1845.

After being educated at King's College, London, he became in 1864 a pupil of the late Mr. James Abernethy, under whom he was employed upon important works, and was for some time a member of the engineering staff constructing the Swansea Docks.

On leaving Mr. Abernethy he became resident engineer on the Thetford and Watton Railway under Mr. J. S. Valentine.

In 1870-71 he designed and carried out the drainage of Walton-on-Thames on the intermittent downward filtration system. This was one of the earliest applications of this method of sewage disposal, and was highly successful; but as the area of ground acquired for the purpose was surrounded by land suitable for broad irrigation, the original plan was abandoned in favour of the latter as less troublesome and more profitable.

Having started business in Westminster as a consulting engineer, he became joint author with the late Mr. William Haywood of a scheme for the sewerage of the Lower Thames Valley.

He was next connected with the enquiry into the pollution of the Thames by the sewage of London. Together with Mr. James Mansergh and Mr. Baldwin Latham he was employed by the City Corporation in 1882 to lay before the Royal Commission on Metropolitan Sewage Discharge the case against the late Metropolitan Board of Works, with the result that the chemical treatment of the sewage was effected before its discharge into the river.

He frequently acted for the London Water Companies in their dealings with the London County Council. Though best known as a hydraulic and sanitary engineer, he was also connected with railway work, being associated with Sir J. Wolfe Barry, K.C.B., and Mr. Brunel as engineers to the Guildford, Kingston and London Railway; and in conjunction with Professor Henry Robinson he was engineer to the Wimbledon and Putney Railway.

Recently he had made an important extension of the pier at West Brighton.

His death took place on 30th August 1896 in his fifty-first year, from erysipelas of the face after a few days' illness at Foyers, Scotland, while on a visit to the water-power works he was carrying out for the British Aluminium Co.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1877; and was a Member of Council of the Sanitary Institute and of the Royal Meteorological Society, and also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

1897 Obituary [2]

1896 Obituary [3]

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