William Crabtree (1826-1896), surveyor to the borough of Southport
1896 Obituary 
WILLIAM CRABTREE, born at Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, on the 10th of January, 1826, was the youngest son of Mr. Richard Crabtree, a contractor of some repute in that part of the Calder Valley.
After being educated at a private school he entered the office of his father in 1841, and gained considerable practical knowledge of stone-quarrying and in the construction of masonry bridges, reservoirs and other works.
In 1847 he superintended the construction of a viaduct at Dewsbury for the London and North Western Railway. In 1848, on the death of his father, he entered into partnership with his brother, the late Lewis Crabtree, as contractor for earthworks, masonry, and gas- and waterworks. They had quarries at Wadsworth, Stansfield, and Heptonstall, and constructed Heptonstall Church, Hebden Bridge Gas Works, fourteen mills or factories in the neighbourhood, and the massive monument erected on Studley Pike to commemorate the declaration of peace on the conclusion of the war with Russia.
Mr. William Crabtree being desirous of extending his experience, left his native village, where his brothers still carried on the business of contractors, and from 1854-57 was engaged on the East Lancashire Railway, under Mr. J. S. Perring, in superintending the erection of the locomotive works at Bury and on the extension from Burscough into Southport.
On the amalgamation of the East Lancashire with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, Mr. Crabtree entered the office of Mr. Edward Salomon, an architect with an extensive practice in Manchester, and from 1857-59 he superintended the erection of the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition and several large warehouses and buildings of a similar character.
In 1860, on the recommendation of Mr. Salomon, he became engineer to the firm of Messrs. J. and T. B. Crompton, paper makers, for whom he constructed several reservoirs and filter beds, and arched over the River Douglas which ran through the mills. He also superintended the erection of new engines and machinery of the most approved type for making various kinds of paper.
In 1867, Mr. Crabtree was appointed surveyor to the borough of Southport, which had just been incorporated. One of his first duties was to investigate and report upon the difficult problem of sewerage and sewage disposal for a widespread and rapidly growing community, situated in an absolutely level country. He examined and reported upon every known system, both in England and on the Continent; and finally he advised alternative schemes, one of which was adopted on the recommendation of Messrs. Lawson and Mansergh, and subsequently, Mr. Lawson having died in the interim, the works were designed and carried out by Mr. Mansergh at a cost of £120,000. Notwithstanding great difficulties, both in the nature of the ground and the levels of the country, the works were successfully carried out in the years 1875 and 1876.
Mr. Crabtree subsequently constructed about 30 miles of main sewers. Between the years 1885 and 1890 the following works in Southport were executed from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. Crabtree:- sea-walls, marine drives, promenades, lakes and bridges on the sea front; street-improvements, parks and pleasure grounds, sewerage extensions, bridges, and various public buildings.
Mr. Crabtree was a man of indomitable energy, for which he found scope at Southport during the twenty-nine years he held the office of Borough Surveyor. He was highly esteemed by those who knew him, and he received, on more than one occasion, tempting offers to leave the town of his adoption, but family ties and the pride and interest he took in his work at Southport kept him from moving elsewhere.
He died at his residence, Zetland House, Southport, on the 21st of February, 1896, aged seventy, after a long illness, arising from an attack of influenza two years previously, followed by a series of complications.
He was elected an Associate on the 6th of April, 1875, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 1st of May, 1883. He was a Freemason of nearly fifty years’ standing.