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William Ferguson

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William Ferguson (c1852-1935) of the Harbour Board, Wellington, New Zealand

1935 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM FERGUSON was an outstanding figure for many years in the engineering profession in New Zealand. He will be remembered for his notable work as engineer and secretary of the Wellington Harbour Board, with which he was associated for thirty years.

Mr. Ferguson was born in London and in 1867 he was apprenticed to Messrs. Courtenay and Field, mechanical engineers, of Dublin. He was subsequently employed by the Hydraulic Engineering Company, of Chester, as a draughtsman.

In 1873 he entered Trinity College, Dublin, graduating in 1877. He then studied for an engineering degree, which he obtained with the highest honours in 1879. He was in the same year appointed assistant professor of civil engineering and lecturer in mechanical engineering in the University of Dublin.

Four years later he received his appointment to the Wellington Harbour Board and began to carry out the long series of improvements for which he was responsible, notably in the provision of new wharves and hydraulic cranes. He took a leading part in the negotiations which enabled the railway wharf to be taken over from the Government by the Harbour Board. In addition he laid down the principles of financial policy of the Board with notable foresight.

In 1908 he retired, but his services as consulting engineer to the Board were retained until 1913. Mr. Ferguson was one of the survivors of the Wairarapa, which was wrecked off Great Barrier Island in 1890. He was frequently called upon to advise various other undertakings, such as the Te Aro reclamation scheme in 1887, the Wellington city drainage scheme in 1892, and the Yarra diversion and harbour improvements at Melbourne in 1905.

After his retirement from the Harbour Board he became managing director of Wellington Gas Company, but three years later relinquished this position, when he became chairman of the National Efficiency Board, an appointment which he held for four years.

Mr. Ferguson was elected a Member of the Institution in 1881, no less than 54 years ago. He was an original member of the New Zealand Society of Engineers, of which he was president in 1919-20; in addition, he was a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

His death took place on 20th June 1935, at the age of 83.

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