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Alexander Woodlands Makinson

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1863. Locomotive and stationary engines.

Alexander Woodlands Makinson (1822-1886)

1886 Obituary [1]

ALEXANDER WOODLANDS MAKINSON was born at Higher Broughton, Manchester, on the 30th of July, 1822, and was a spectator of the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway.

Leaving the Manchester Grammar School at an early age, he was apprenticed for five years to the Surveyor to the extensive Clowes estates, and at the expiration of that time became the pupil of Mr. G. W. Buck, M. Inst. C.E., by whom he was set to work on the Watford section of the London and Birmingham Railway.

At the expiration of his pupilage in 1842, he went through a three years' course in the engineering department at King's College, London, from whence he proceeded to Lowestoft to take charge of the construction of the pier for the Eastern Counties Railway, of which the late Mr. James Samuel, M. Inst. C.E., was Chief Engineer, and by whom he was engaged to superintend the survey and construction of the Newmarket and Ely and Hartingdon Railways, and in preparing the plans for a proposed water-supply for London from the Bala lake.

About thistime Mr. Makinson was employed under Sir James Brunlees, Past- President Inst. C.E., on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

In 1851, having assisted the late Sir Goldsworthy Gurney in the ventilation of the Houses of Parliament, he entered into partnership with the late Mr. W. Clark, M. Inst. C.E., as sanitary and ventilating engineers, the partnership expiring on Mr. Clark receiving the appointment of Engineer to the Municipal Council of Calcutta.

Mr. Makinson was then occupied for some years in superintending the construction of, and afterwards as Resident Engineer on, the Llanelly and Vale of Towy Railways; he also went to Switzerland in 1854 for a few months under the late Mr. Hemans, Vice-President Inst. C.E.

In 1859 he received the appointment of Chief Engineer on the Calcutta and South-Eastern Railway, but was obliged to resign after about a year’s service owing to fever and ague, being also obliged for the same reason to decline the appointment of Chief Engineer to the Bombay and Baroda Railway.

Soon after his return from India, Mr. Makinson proceeded with Mr. Samuel and several other engineers to the Isthmus of Panama, to check the surveys of the French engineers for the Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal, projected by the late Emperor Napoleon III.; and at Greytown, perhaps the most unhealthy spot in the world, he contracted malarial fever, which incapacitated him for a long time from actively following the duties of his profession.

He was consequently only able to work at intervals during the period from 1860 to 1867 in making surveys for several proposed new lines, such as the Birkenhead Docks and Cheshire Railway, the widening of the Altrincham and Sheffield Junction Railway, the Liverpool Extension Railway, the Manchester Central Station, and the Hooton Branch of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire Railway.

During 1866-70 Mr. Makinson acted as Resident Engineer on the Carnarvon and Llanberis Railway, which was subsequently incorporated with the London and North-Western Railway system.

In 1871 he was engaged in laying out annd superintending the construction of the Halmstad-Nassjo Railway, in Sweden, 120 miles long, with which he was concerned till 1877, when, owing to the failure of the Swedish Bank, which had purchased the bonds of the line, the work came to a standstill, 80 miles having then been completed and opened for traffic.

During the latter years of his life Mr. Makinson withdrew from professional work and employed himself in farming in Sweden, where he expired at Herrestad Karda, after a short illness, on the 14th of April, 1886.

Gifted with brilliant mathematical powers, combined with a thorough knowledge of his profession, remarkable for integrity of life and aim, he lived and died a Christian gentleman of the highest type, leaving a memory which, to quote the words of a friend, in itself constitutes a rich inheritance for his children.

Mr. Makinson was elected a Member of the Institution on the 1st of February, 1859, and received a Telford Premium for a Paper 'On some of the Internal Disturbing Forces of Locomotive Engines,' read on the 2nd of December, 1862.

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