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Alexander Easton

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Alexander Easton (1787-1854)

1822 Alexander Easton, Maryborough, Queen's County, Ireland, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1807 Took over the work on the Caledonian Canal when John Telford died.


1855 Obituary [2]

Alexander Easton was born in the year 1787, near the well known large ironworks at Carron, in the county of Stirling.

His Father and Grandfather were Contractors for the construction of parts of the Forth and Clyde Canal, and young Easton, after receiving a good plain education, acquired upon their works and under their guidance, the first rudiments of professional knowledge.

Thence he was transferred to Glasgow, where he received further practical training under the late Mr. Brocket, at that time a Contractor of considerable eminence in the West of Scotland.

At that period, the improvements of the roads and harbours of the Highlands and Isles of Scotland, which have since conferred such lasting benefits on the country were being commenced under the engineering directions of Thomas Telford, and his attention having been attracted to the good character and rising talents of young Easton, he appointed him, at the early age of eighteen years, one of the Surveyors of roads, in Argyllshire.

In 1807 a vacancy occurred on the Caledonian Canal, in consequence of the death of the Resident Engineer for the works of the western district. To this appointment Mr. Telford, the Engineer-in-Chief, promoted Mr. Easton, and during fifteen years he faithfully discharged its duties, only quitting the post after the opening of the canal for public traffic in 1822. The skill and energy which marked the execution of the various works placed under his charge, were sufficiently testified in the Annual Reports, both of the Chief Engineer, and of the Parliamentary Commissioners for constructing the canal.

Early in 1823 the eastern and western districts of the canal being united under the management of one Resident Engineer, Mr. Easton quitted Scotland, and was for some time engaged in Ireland, on works connected with a gaol in Queen’s County.

He afterwards was employed by Mr. Telford, on surveys of part of the Mail Road and of the proposed improvements between Chepstow and Milford Haven;- the late Mr. H. R. Palmer (one of the founders of the Institution of Civil Engineers,) being at the same time similarly employed on the remaining portion of the works in that district.

Some of the works of the Bude Canal, in Cornwall, were afterwards intrusted by Mr. Telford to Mr. Easton’s supervision, and were completed, as usual, to the satisfaction of the chief. [Not so! James Green was the engineer]

In 1826 an Act of Parliament was obtained, for constructing the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, from near Wolverhampton to Nantwich. The preliminary surveys for this work, the necessary engineering evidence, before Parliament, and the designs for most of the principal works had been previously intrusted, by Mr. Telford, to Mr. Provis (M.Inst.C.E.), and to him the charge of executing the works as Resident Engineer was first offered; having, however, other objects in view, he declined the appointment, and it was afterwards offered to and accepted by Mr. Easton; who also undertook, under similar circumstances, the superintendence of the works of the Middlewich Branch of the Ellesmere and Chester Canal, and of some Locks and a Dock at Ellesmere Port; and to them he devoted his time and attention until their completion.

Subsequently, an Act of Parliament being passed for the amalgamation of the Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal, with the Ellesmere and Chester Canal, Mr. Easton was named the Resident Engineer for the care and maintenance of the whole, and continued to hold the appointment for upwards of twenty years, until the year 1851, when he retired from all professional avocations.

He was a man of great energy of purpose, active habits, and sound practical talent; from long experience he had acquired considerable skill in designing, laying out, and constructing canal works, to which he had more especially devoted his attention, and by his facility in adapting the works to the nature of the country through which they passed, and in selecting the materials best adapted for their construction, he was enabled to afford essential aid in carrying out those improvements in canal navigation, which contributed so much to the prosperity of this country, previous to the introduction of railways.

Age had yet treated him leniently, when unfortunately he was accidentally injured, in assisting to fell a tree, near his residence, at Sutton, in Staffordshire, and his death ensued on the 19th of March 1854, in the sixty-seventh year of his age.

He joined the Institution, as a Member, so early as in the year 1823, and though he was only able occasionally to attend the Meetings, he always evinced the greatest anxiety for the advancement of the Society. His strict integrity, his kind and cheerful disposition, and his excellent temper, had endeared him to all who knew him, and his decease was lamented by a circle of old and devoted friends.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1822 Institution of Civil Engineers
  2. 1855 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries