William Clark (1821-1880)
William Clark (1821-1880)
1821 March 17th. Born in Colchester the son of Peter Clark
1855 September 20th. Married in Calcutta to Frances Elizabeth Drake (1825-1892) and had five daughters (first four born in India)
1867 Became a member of IMechE
1872 of 9 Victoria Chambers, Victoria Street, Westminster, S.W.
1880 January 22nd. Died in Koomabarree, Surbiton Hill, Surrey.
2021 Comment from Calcutta. 'Mr William Clark, a British Civil Engineer who lived and worked in India from 1855 to 1871, in the city of Kolkata (Calcutta). Mr Clark was the 14th Civil Engineer of the then Calcutta Corporation and he made a stellar contribution to this city in two areas: 1) the underground brick sewer system which is still in use to a large extent and 2) installation of filtered water supply systems, also still in use. The corporation, which is now known as the Kolkata Municipal Corporation is planning to publish a booklet on Mr Clark’s works to commemorate his bicentenary this year'
Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 10
CLARK, WILLIAM (1821–1880), civil engineer and inventor, was born at Colchester, 17 March 1821.
He went to King's College, London, in 1842, and was elected an associate of the college in 1845.
Soon afterwards he became a pupil of, and subsequently an assistant to, J. Birkinshaw, M. Inst. C.E., under whom he was employed for three years on the works of the York and North Midland railway system.
In 1851 he entered into partnership with A. W. Makinson, M. Inst. C.E., the firm devoting special attention to the warming and ventilating of public buildings. He shortly afterwards obtained the appointment of surveyor to the local board of health of Kingston-upon-Hull, and devised a complete system of drainage for that town.
In 1854 he entered the service of the East Indian Railway Company, and, after acting for a year as resident engineer on a portion of the East India railway, became the secretary and subsequently the engineer to the municipality of Calcutta. Clark devoted himself with zeal to his work, and very soon proposed a complete scheme for the drainage of the city, only imperfectly carried out owing to the expense. He also devised a system of waterworks, comprising three large pumping stations, with their filter beds and settling tanks.
He returned to England in 1874, when he entered into partnership with W. F. Batho, M. Inst. C.E., and in the same year received the appointment of consulting engineer to the Oudh and Rohilkund Railway Company.
In December 1874 he visited Madras, where he remained four months planning a system of drainage for that city. He was selected by the colonial office in 1876, in concert with the government of New South Wales, to advise and report upon the water supply and drainage of Sydney.
During a residence of two years in the Australian colonies he prepared schemes of a like description for Port Adelaide, Newcastle, Bathurst, Goulburn, Orange, Maitland, and Brisbane, and afterwards for Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand.
Among Clark's inventions was his tied brick arch, of which examples exist in Calcutta and in other places in India; and he was joint patentee with Batho of the well-known steam road roller. Among his schemes was a proposal for reclaiming the salt-water lakes in the neighbourhood of Calcutta. He was elected a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers 2 Feb. 1864, and a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1867.
He died from an affection of the liver, at Surbiton, 22 Jan. 1880. He was the writer of ‘The Drainage of Calcutta,’ 1871.
1881 Obituary 
. . . became a pupil of, and subsequently an assistant to, Mr. Birkinshaw, M.Inst.C.E., under whom, first as assistant and afterwards as resident engineer, he was employed for a period of three or four years on the works of the York and North Midland Railway system.
In 1850 he was connected with the late Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, who at that time had charge of the warming and ventilating of the Houses of Parliament.
In 1851 he entered into partnership with A. W. Makinson, M. Inst. C.E., the firm devoting special attention to the warming and ventilating of public buildings. He was shortly afterwards offered and accepted the appointment of surveyor to the Local Board of Health of Kingston-upon-Hull, and devised a complete system of drainage for that town, the works of which were commenced by him.
In 1854 he entered the service of the East Indian Railway company as a second-class engineer. After acting for upwards of a year as resident engineer on a portion of the East Indian railway, forming part of the district under Mr. Sibley, M. Inst. C.E., he became the secretary, and subsequently the engineer, to the Municipality of Calcutta, . . .
1881 Obituary 
WILLIAM CLARK was born at Colchester on 17th March 1821; and after being educated principally at King's College, London, entered the office of Mr. J. Birkinshaw, under whom he was employed for three or four years on the York and North Midland Railway works.
In 1850 he became connected with Sir Goldsworthy Gurney, at that time occupied with the warming and ventilation of the Houses of Parliament; and in 1851 he joined Mr. A. W. Makinson in works of that class. Shortly afterwards he was appointed surveyor to Kingston-upon-Hull, for which town lie planned a complete system of drainage, and commenced the necessary works.
In 1854 he became resident engineer on a portion of the East Indian Railway; and a-year later secretary, and afterwards engineer, to the municipality of Calcutta, for whom lie devised a thorough drainage scheme, which he ultimately carried out with complete success and with great benefit to the public health.
He also planned and carried out a complete system of waterworks for Calcutta; and continued to act as engineer-in-chief to that municipality until 1874, when he returned to England and entered into partnership with Mr. W. F. Batho.
At the end of the same year he visited Madras, and there planned a drainage scheme for that city. He was also appointed consulting engineer to the Oude and Rohilkund Railway. In 1876 he was commissioned by the New South Wales Government to report and advise upon the water supply and drainage of Sydney; and while in Australia he also prepared similar schemes for Port Adelaide, Newcastle, Bathurst, Goulburn, Orange, Maitland, and Brisbane, as well as afterwards for Wellington and Christchurch in New Zealand.
The works of his drainage scheme for Christchurch were commenced in 1879, the sewage pumping machinery being designed and sent out under his supervision. He invented a "tied brick arch," of which fine examples were constructed in Calcutta and elsewhere in India; and was associated with Mr. Batho in the introduction of a steam road roller.
After suffering for about half a year from a liver affection, he died at Surbiton on 22nd January 1880, at the age of fifty-eight.
He became a Member of the Institution in 1867.
Sources of Information
- Colchester Gazette - Wednesday 28 January 1880
- 20210322 RS
- 1881 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
- 1881 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries