William George Laws
City Engineer of Newcastle upon Tyne
1884 President of the Association of Municipal Engineers and Surveyors
1900 Retired with the position of consultant
1904 Died at age 62
1905 Obituary 
WILLIAM GEORGE LAWS was born at the Manor House, Tynemouth, on 18th April 1836, and was the eldest son of the late Cuthbert Umfreville Laws, of Prudhoe Castle, Northumberland.
He was educated at Durham University.
In 1853 he was articled to Mr. James Burnett of the engineering firm of Messrs. Thompson and Boyd of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and served a four years' pupilage with him, afterwards remaining in his office till August 1857.
On leaving Messrs. Thompson and Boyd's, he entered the office of Mr. John F. Tone, first as a pupil and afterwards assistant, and was engaged on the surveys and Parliamentary Work for the Border Union Railway, Border Counties Railway and North British Railway (Wansbeck Section).
In June 1860 he was appointed Resident Engineer on the Wansbeck Railway, on which he was engaged for five years, designing and carrying out all the works thereon.
In 1867 he entered into partnership with his brother, the late Mr. Hubert Laws, and practised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This partnership lasted till 1874, and amongst the works carried out by them were private works for the Duke of Northumberland, the Scotswood, Newborn and Wylam Railway, and other railways and works.
In 1870 he reported to the Shields Chamber of Commerce on the navigation of the Suez Canal.
He was engineer jointly with Mr. Thomas Bouch for the Newcastle and Tynemouth Tramway Bills in 1870 and 1871; and he designed and superintended the erection of the railway bridge over the River Tyne at Wylam, connecting the railways on the north side and south side of the Tyne. Owing to the existence of coal workings near the surface, it was not considered safe to put piers in the river and the bridge consists of three arched girders of 240 feet span, springing from abutments near the water-level, from which the platform is hung by wrought-iron suspension bars carrying cross girders below.
In 1874 he entered the North Eastern Railway Co.'s office as Chief Assistant to the late Mr. T. E. Harrison, and assisted in the carrying out of many important works, including the alteration and extension of Hartlepool Docks, the riverside railway on the north bank of the Tyne, the railway joining Monkwearmouth and Sunderland, including the bridge over the River Wear, and the extension of the South Shields Branch of the North Eastern Railway with the new station.
In December 1881 he was appointed City Engineer for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, which post he held for 20 years. During this time many important works were carried out, and he was Engineer for the Tramways and Street Improvement Bills of 1892, 1895, 1899, and 1902. Jointly with the late Mr. Messent he prepared a scheme for re-building the quay wall on concrete well-monolith foundations, and successfully carried out several sections of this work.
He also carried out many street improvements and introduced Australian hardwood paving into Newcastle. The Ouseburn Outlet Sewers for the drainage of Gosforth, &c., and the Refuse Destructor at Byker were important works undertaken and completed under his control.
In 1885 he designed and built a floating hospital for the Tyne Port Sanitary Authority, and in 1893 one for the Tees Port Sanitary Authority. Under his direction the first portion of the overhead electric tramway system in Newcastle was laid down in 1900-1901.
In December 1901 he resigned the office of City Engineer and was appointed Consulting Engineer to the Corporation.
His death took place on 22nd December 1904, in his sixty-ninth year, at his residence in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from heart disease after a short illness. He had previously suffered from heart complaint from time to time.
He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1874; and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the North of England Institution of Mining and Mechanical Engineers. He had been President of the Association of Municipal and County Engineers.
1905 Obituary 
WILLIAM GEORGE LAWS, the eldest son of the late Cuthbert Umfreville Laws, of Prudhoe Castle, Northumberland, was born at the Manor House, Tynemouth on the 18th April, 1836.
After completing his education at Durham University, he served a pupilage to James Burnett of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and was subsequently engaged under John F. Tone on the surveys for the Border Union, Border Counties, and Wansbeck Railways, of which the last-named was constructed under his supervision as Resident Engineer.
Between 1865 and 1867 he was occupied on surveys for the Bristol and North Somerset Railway, the Teign Valley line, and other projects.
In 1867, Mr. Laws entered into partnership with his brother, the late Hubert Laws, and practised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, carrying out various railway and other works, among which may le mentioned the bridge over the Tyne at Wylam, connecting the railways on the north and south sides of the river. Owing to the existence of coal-workings near the surface, it was not considered safe to put down piers in the river, and the bridge consists of three arched girders of 240 feet span, springing from abutments near the water-level, from which the platform is hung by wrought iron suspension-bars carrying cross-girders below.
On the dissolution of the partnership in 1874, Mr. Laws accepted the post of Chief Assistant to the late T. E. Harrison on the North Eastern Railway, in which capacity he assisted in the design and execution of many important works, including the alteration and extension of Hartlepool Docks, the Riverside Railway on the north bank of the Tyne, the railway joining Monkwearmouth and Sunderland with the bridge over the river Wear, and the extension of the South Shields branch of the North Eastern Railway, with the new station.
In 1881 Mr. Laws received the appointment of City Engineer of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a post which he occupied for 20 years, ably discharging the arduous duties of his office, and identifying himself completely with the progress of the city during the period.
Jointly with the late Mr. Messent he prepared a scheme for rebuilding the quay-wall on concrete-well-monolith foundations and successfully carried out several sections of the work. The Ouseburn outlet sewers for the drainage of Gosforth and the refuse destructor at Byker were undertaken by him, and he also designed and built floating hospitals for the Tyne and Tees Ports Sanitary Authorities. During his tenure of office the first portion of the electric tramway system in Newcastle was laid down, in 1900 and 1901.
At the end of 1901 he sent in his resignation and was thereupon appointed Consulting Engineer to the Corporation. He retained this appointment until his death from heart disease on the 22nd December, 1904, in his sixty-ninth year.
Mr. Laws was a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and of the North of England Institution of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, and a Member and Past-President of the Association of Municipal and County Engineers.
He was elected an Associate Member of this Institution on the 1st March, 1870, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 29th May, 1877.
Sources of Information
- The Times Dec. 23, 1904
- 1905 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
- 1905 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries