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William Elliot (1827-1892)

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William Elliot (1827-1892)


1893 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM ELLIOT, eldest son of the late Dr. Elliot, was born at Stratford, Essex, on the 17th of February, 1827, and was educated at the Grammar School of that place and subsequently at King’s College, London.

In 1842 he was articled to the late Mr. John Seaward, of the Canal Ironworks, Limehouse, and from 1845 to 1848 was a pupil of the late Mr. Joseph Cubitt, Vice- President. During that time Mr. Cubitt was constructing the branch of the South Eastern Railway from Ashford to Canterbury, Ramsgate and Margate, and also the Great Northern Railway, on both of which works Mr. Elliot was engaged.

After the completion of the latter line, he served on its London District for two years as an Assistant Engineer and for one year as Resident Engineer.

In 1851 Mr. Elliot was engaged for a short time only on the East Indian Railway, the death of his brother rendering it necessary for him to resign this appointment and return to England.

After devoting some time to the arrangement of family affairs, he went to Russia for six months for a private firm to make preparations for the establishment of saw-mills, and then in 1854 and 1855 acted as Resident Engineer for his old master, Mr. Cubitt, on the drainage of the London Necropolis Company’s estate and on the works for its cemetery at Brookwood, near Woking.

In the latter year he was appointed by the Government of Brazil Engineer-in-Chief of the Province of Sao Paulo, which post he held until 1858.

He next acted under the late Mr. W. M. Peniston, as Resident Engineer on the Recife and San Francisco Railway, an account of the construction of which is contained in a Paper on “Public Works in Pernambuco,” presented to the Institution by Mr. Peniston in 1863.

From 1861 to 1864 Mr. Elliot was employed under the late Mr. John Watson on the Bahia and San Francisco Railway, having charge for the last year of that time of the completion and maintenance of the line.

He then acted for three years as chief Assistant for Messrs. Smith, Knight and Co. on the construction of about 70 miles of the heaviest portion of the Mexican Railway, after which he returned to England.

After being engaged for a short time in deepening the River Blackwater at Maldon, in Essex, by dredging, Mr. Elliot was appointed in 1868, Engineer-in-Chief to the Belgian Public Works Company for the improvement of the City of Brussels, where he carried out extensive drainage works, the diversion and arching of the River Senne, and the erection of the new Exchange and of the Central Markets. An account of these works may be found in The Engineer of the 14th of January, 1870. Unfortunately the Company failed in 1871, owing to the insufficient capital with which it had been floated.

On leaving Brussels, Mr. Elliot acted for Messrs. Clark, Punchard and Co. during the construction of tramways at Buenos Ayres, and was then appointed Manager and Engineer-in-Chief to the Montevideo Harbour Improvement Company, formed for the purpose of carrying out a concession from the Government for the dredging of the harbour and for additions to the customhouse, as well as of eventually constructing a breakwater and enclosing the harbour in accordance with a plan which had been submitted to the Government by the late Mr. La Trobe Bateman, Past-President Inst. C.E. The dredgers and barges were sent out in pieces and had to be put together in a place where few facilities existed for such work. The foundations of the sea-wall of the custom-house, exposed to very rough weather, were formed of a solid continuous block of concrete in 20 feet of water where no hold was to be had for piles to form a coffer dam, the bottom being of solid gneiss-rock. Owing to political changes the latter part of the programme was not carried out; financial embarrassment arose and Mr. Elliot had no alternative but to send in his resignation.

He again returned to England in 1875 and for the next few years was engaged in examining and reporting on various projects. In 1879 he represented Messrs. Wilson, Sons and Co. on the construction of the Great Western of Brazil Railway in the province of Pernambuco and had charge from the commencement to the completion of the line in 1883.

He then went to Buenos Ayres and for the next six years carried out for Messrs. Devoto, the contractors, the construction of the Buenos Ayres drainage works.

In January, 1891, he was appointed by Messrs. De Morgan, Snell, and Co. Manager and Engineer of a large cotton-mill at Pernambuco. After selecting a site and completing the necessary negotiations Mr. Elliot was making rapid progress with the erection of this mill, when he was attacked by yellow-fever, from which he died on the 19th of June, 1892.

Mr. Elliot was a man of high principle, strict integrity and firmness of character. He enjoyed the confidence and esteem of his employers and of those who worked under him, and held the highest testimonials from many of the leading South American Engineers.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 1st of December, 1863, was placed in the class of Associate Member on its creation in December, 1878, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 28th of March, 1882.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1893 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries