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British Industrial History

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John Alexander McDonald

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John Alexander McDonald (-1931)

Assistant Engineer for Reacts and Bridges, Public Works Office, Sydney, New South Wales : (or care of James E. McDonald, 4 Chapel Street, Cripplegate, London, E.C.)

1931 Obituary [1]

JOHN ALEXANDER MCDONALD was born in London in 1856. He studied civil engineering for two years at King's College, London, and was an articled pupil for three years with Messrs. Jessop and Appleby Brothers of London and Leicester, for whom he later held a position of responsibility in their Greenwich works.

Mr. McDonald then went to Australia and was appointed assistant engineer in the Roads, Bridges, and Sewerage Department of the New South Wales Government. He was eventually promoted to be principal assistant engineer to the Department, and during this period he patented an expansion roller for large bridges.

At the end of fourteen years he visited America and subsequently took up the position of assistant engineer in the Public Works Department of Perth, Western Australia.

Later he became resident engineer on the Fremantle harbour works and subsequently was promoted to be assistant engineer-in-chief for the Colony of Western Australia. Among other works under his control was the Coolgardie water supply system, which became one of the largest in the world.

After four-and-a-half years in this service he resigned and went to South Africa, where he was engaged in mining surveying and assaying in Rhodesia, and in the design of electric light stations in Cape Town. He was afterwards appointed assistant engineer in the Town Engineer's Department of the Johannesburg Municipality. He then became deputy town engineer and for an interval of six months served as acting town engineer.

On resigning this position after five years of service, Mr. McDonald returned to Western Australia where he became engineer for water conservation works.

In 1912, he acted as engineer to the Gisborne Harbour Board, New Zealand, and in 1918 was resident and consulting engineer to the Gisborne Borough Council.

He retired in 1923.

Mr. McDonald became a Graduate of the Institution in 1878, and two years later was transferred to membership. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

He died at Gisborne, New Zealand, on 4th June 1930.

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