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British Industrial History

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Thomas Alfred Yarrow

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Thomas Alfred Yarrow (1817-1874)

1816 October 1st. Born at Piccadilly St. James, Westminster, the son of Thomas Yarrow, mathematics teacher, and his wife Harriet Edward. Note: His obituary states October 1817.

1846 Married Harriette James in Wirral[1]

1847 Gave expert evidence at the railway bridge collapse at the River Dee, Chester: 'I have been a civil engineer about twelve years; during that time bridges have been my entire study. I was for some time bridgemaster for the county of Chester. I do not now practise as a civil engineer.....'[2]

1850 Civil engineer, lived in London[3]

1850 Partnership dissolved. '...the Partnership heretofore subsisting between John Rigby and Thomas Alfred Yarrow, of Adam-street, Adelphi, London, as Engineers, was this day dissolved by mutual consent...'[4]

1861 Living at Sydenham Hill, Lewisham: Thomas Alfred Yarrow (age 44 burn Durham), Civil Engineer. With his wife Harriett Yarrow (age 42 born Chester). Four servants.[5]

1871 Visiting Folkestone, a widower (born in London)[6]

1872 Married Emily Octavia Baker in London[7]

1874 Died in Leamington[8]

1875 Obituary [9]

Thomas Alfred Yarrow was born in London in October 1817, and educated at the Military College, Sandhurst.

In early life he was engaged under Edward Dixon, M. Inst. C.E., during the construction of the London and South Western Railway, and afterwards with his uncle, John Dixon, upon the construction of the Chester and Birkenhead Railway.

On the completion of the works, Mr. Dixon removed to Birmingham, and Mr. Yarrow was appointed Resident Engineer, which position he filled for some time, and, during the tenure of this engagement, designed and carried out the tunnel from the old terminus in Birkenhead to the Monk’s Ferry.

He then entered into general practice as an Engineer at Birkenhead, and was occupied in the design and execution of several important works, besides being frequently consulted upon some of the many schemes for the improvement of that rapidly-advancing district.

Mr. Yarrow was subsequently appointed Surveyor and Bridge-master to the County of Chester, when he designed and carried out several new bridges and other works for the county.

In 1847, he retired from this position and made a professional tour on the Continent. On his return, he commenced to practise in London, and was engaged principally in connection with railways and sanitary works, among the latter being the purification of the sewage of the Fulham district by peat charcoal, which, so long as the works were in operation, was carried on successfully; a large quantity of the effluent water being profitably applied to the market gardens in the neighbourhood.

In 1866, Mr. Yarrow became Consulting Engineer to the Scinde Railway Company, and soon after to the allied companies, the Punjab railway and the Indus Steam Flotilla. He manifested much energy and talent in the performance of the duties connected with these important appointments, taking charge of the construction in England of the iron bridges, engines, and machinery.

Towards the close of the year 1861, failing health, arising from unremitting attention and anxiety, necessitated his retirement, from office; and he was succeeded by Mr. G. P. Bidder, Past-President Inst. C.E.

From this time the state of Mr. Yarrow’s health no longer permitted him to pursue the active exercise of his profession, but he still continued to take a lively interest in everything connected with engineering, more particularly in what related to India; and he was a strong advocate for maintaining the 5 feet 6 inches gauge for at least the main and principal lines of railway in that country.

Mr. Yarrow’s personal character was genial and warm-hearted, and although of late years the state of his health did not permit him to mix much in the society of his professional brethren, yet towards those who were associated with him in early life he continued to cherish the warmest friendship and to take a sympathising interest in their pursuits.

He was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 3rd of February, 1857, and was at first a frequent attendant at the Meetings. He died on the 11th of September, 1874, in the fifty-seventh year of his age.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. Staffordshire Advertiser - Saturday 05 June 1847
  3. Post Office Directory
  4. The London Gazette Publication date:3 May 1850 Issue:21092 Page:1284
  5. 1861 Census
  6. 1871 census
  7. BMD
  8. National probate calendar
  9. 1875 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries