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Alexander Ogilvie

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Alexander Ogilvie (1812-1886), Civil Engineer and Contractor

1830s Went into partnership with Thomas Brassey as Brassey and Ogilvie

1841 Married Margaret Hallam in Lambeth[1]

1850 Associate of the Inst of Civil Engineers; of 4 Great George St, Westminster[2]

1851 Living at Fir Grove, Farnham, Surrey: Alexander Ogilvie (age 39 born Forfarslure, Scotland), Civil Engineer and Contractor. With his wife Margaret Ogilvie (age 28 born Penkdridge, Derbyshire) and their four children; Margaret Francis Ogilvie (age 8 born Long Ditton); Elizabeth Mary Ogilvie (age 2 born Guildford); Gordon Allwans Ogilvie (age 1 born Palgrave, Sfk.); Arthur G. Ogilvie (age 2 Months born Farnham). Also his brother Patrick Ogilvie (age 24 born Renfrew), Civil Engineer. Six servants.[3]


1886 Obituary [4]

ALEXANDER OGILVIE was born at Clocksbriggs, in the county of Forfar, on the 15th of February 1812.

He died on the same date in 1886.

His education was first conducted at the High School of Edinburgh, where at an early age he evinced that talent for figures, and acute comprehension of results which was one of his most marked characteristics through life, and which enabled him in future years to carry out very large works with success, even in seasons of great and universal depression.

After studying at the High School for some years, Mr. Ogilvie graduated with honours at the Edinburgh University, and thence, determining to make England the stage of his active work, went into Cheshire to learn practical engineering under Mr. S. Fowls, M. Inst. C.E., Engineer to the Trustees of the River Weaver and Bridge-master of the County of Chester. It was here that he first became acquainted with the late Mr. Brassey, with whom ever afterwards he was, almost from that period, most closely associated. Each recognized in the other the existence of those sound qualities of which successful men are made, and it was at no distant date that a partnership was entered into that lasted through life, and was to the mutual advantage of both.

The union of these two men was brought about in a curiously characteristic fashion. Both were invited to tender for a large contract, but before the day arrived for giving in the estimates, Mr. Brassey called on Mr. Ogilvie, and said, 'It’s no use making two bites of a cherry; let’s go in together, or one of us retire.' And so it was; and during the life of Mr. Brassey Mr. Ogilvie had him as a partner in all the works he engaged in. To the credit of both it may be here related that, almost without exception, every one of the numerous contracts jointly undertaken were financially successful. Averse to society, and strongly attached to his own home, he rarely mixed with his fellow men in the social sense, but he was ever willing to help with a generous hand those who needed aid: reticent and guarded in speech, he was a typical Scotchman of the best order.

The English railway contracts undertaken by Mr. Ogilvie, in partnership with other contractors, were mainly in the various systems now grouped under the Great Eastern, and London and South-Western Railways; amongst the former may be named the Colchester and Ipswich, the Ipswich and Bury, the Haughley and Norwich, the Sudbury, Bury St. Edmunds and Cambridge, the Epping, and Dunmow Railways; amongst the latter the North Devon, the Portsmouth direct, and the Salisbury and Yeovil Railways.

Outside of these, the Runcorn Branch Railway, on the London and North-Western system, with its important bridge over the Mersey, a portion of the Thames Embankment, and the Metropolitan Mid-level sewer, may be mentioned.

The chief foreign works undertaken by him were the Mauritius, the Central Argentine, and the Buenos Ayres and Ensenada, Railways, and the Rio de Janeiro drainage.

It may be of interest to state that Mr. Ogilvie executed over £10,000,000 worth of work, out of a total of over £30,000,000 tendered for, and that the actual practical control in the various partnerships fell very largely into his hands.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of May 1850, and served as a Member of the Council in the Session 1864-65.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. Civil Engineer Lists
  3. 1851 Census
  4. 1886 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries