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British Industrial History

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Alexander Comrie

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Alexander Comrie (1786-1855)

1834 Alexander Comrie of London, a Surveyor for works of Engineering, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]


1856 Obituary [2]

MR. ALEXANDER COMRIE was born on the 26th of August, 1786, in the village of Comrie, Perthshire, N. B., where he remained until the year 1803, at which time, the late Mr. Netlam Giles, who was then engaged on some surveys in Scotland, employed him as a field assistant, and he was subsequently induced to come to London, by the late Mr. Francis Giles, (M. Inst. C.E.,) with whom he remained for the long period of twenty-one years, during the greater part of which, he acted as his principal assistant, and was employed by him on the extensive surveys throughout the United Kingdom, which were made, at that period, for public works.

He afterwards commenced business on his own account, and, at a very early period of his career, obtained the patronage of Mr. J. Walker, late President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, by whose firm he was extensively employed up to the time of his death.

He was also fortunate in enjoying the confidence of many eminent Engineers of the day, amongst whom may be mentioned Mr. Rastrick, Sir John Rennie, Sir William Cubitt, Mr. Rendel, Mr. W. C. Mylne, Mr. Hawkshaw, and Mr. Borthwick, and was frequently employed by various public bodies in the City of London.

His practice was, to a great extent, confined to marine surveys, for the extreme accuracy of which, he had justly acquired an honourable reputation ; but he was also extensively engaged on railway surveys during the early period of their history.

Amongst his principal surveys were those of the Harbours of Refuge of Jersey, Alderney, and Dover; of the Rivers Thames, Mersey, Severn, Avon, Tyne, Humber, Ouse, Lee, Clyde, Forth, &c.; Plymouth Sound; Harbours of Kingston, Belfast, &c.

He surveyed the Tyne, from Newcastle Bridge to the sea, on three different occasions: first, in 1813, when under Mr. Giles, for the late Mr. Rennie; secondly, in 1849-50, for Mr. Rendel; and thirdly, in 1854, for a Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the state of the river, and to report on the various plans that had been proposed for its improvement. During the latter survey, he was exposed to very severe and trying weather in the winter, and having caught a violent cold, was compelled to return to London, about the middle of December: his illness gradually increased, and he died at Chelsea, on the 9th of January, 1855, in the sixty-ninth year of his age, after a long life of unwearied industry and perseverance in his profession.

He became an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1834, and when in London, was a constant attendant at the Meetings; although he rarely took part in the discussions, he always evinced much interest in the proceedings. He was a quiet, amiable man, scrupulously truthful and conscientious, and he deservedly acquired the confidence of all with whom he came in contact, as his work was so accurate and well performed, as to entitle it to implicit reliance.



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Sources of Information

  1. 1834 Institution of Civil Engineers
  2. 1856 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries