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Thomas Paterson (1830-1869)

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Thomas Paterson (1830-1869), Engineer of Roads, Railways, etc.

* 1870 Obituary[1]

Deaths of Mr. Thomas Paterson and Mr. James Balfour, Civil Engineers, in New Zealand.

The Edinburgh papers record the deaths, in New Zealand, of two civil engineers, who were natives of, and long resident in Edinburgh, namely, Mr. Thomas Paterson, formerly chief assistant with Messrs. B. and E. Blyth, and Mr. James Balfour, bred under Messrs. Stevenson. They had both acquired considerable distinction in the colony of New Zealand, in connexion with the engineering works which they executed for the Government and for other bodies. Both of them met their untimely death by drowning in December last.

1871 Obituary [2]

MR. THOMAS PATERSON was born in Edinburgh on the 26th of December, 1830.

He was educated chiefly at the High School in that city, and was subsequently a pupil of Mr. John Miller, M.P;, M. Inst. C.E. On Mr. Miller’s retirement from the profession, Mr. Paterson completed his pupillage with the late Mr. B. Hall Blyth, M. Inst. C.E. He continued with Mr. Blyth and the firm of B. and E. Blyth from 1850 to 1863, for many years acting as their principal assistant, and having charge of important works. He was Resident Engineer on the canal branch of the Great North of Scotland railway in 1853 and 1854, and left, on its completion, to assume the resident engineership of the Carlisle and Silloth Bay railway.

In 1863 he was appointed, on the recommendation of the Messrs. Stevenson of Edinburgh, Engineer of Roads, Railways, &C., to the Otago Government, New Zealand, a post which he ably filled for two years, and then began business in Dunedin, the capital of Otago, on his own account, retaining the Government employment.

In New Zealand he constructed several considerable bridges and other works, made extensive surveys, and prepared elaborate reports of projected roads and railways. Mr. Paterson's practice soon extended to other provinces, his professional advice being much sought after and relied on. He was employed by the Southland and Canterbury Governments; and when on his way from Dunedin to Timaru, to submit the plans of a bridge over the river Rangitata, one of the largest rivers in Canterbury, he was drowned on the 15th of December, 1869, by the upsetting of the mail coach when fording the river Kakanui while in flood.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 10th of April, 1866. His death was looked upon as a national loss in Dunedin, where he had established not only many sincere friendships, but a high character for uprightness, honour, and ability as a professional man.

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