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David Reid (1841-1892)

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David Reid (1841-1892)


1892 Obituary [1]

DAVID REID, born on the 11th of January, 1841, at Tilliery near Milnathort, Kinross-shire, was the youngest son of the late Mr. Robert Reid, who, with his forefathers, had owned property in that county for several generations.

David Reid was educated first at the parish school of Orwell, Milnathort, and subsequently at the High School of Glasgow, where he gave promise of future success in the profession for which he was being prepared.

In 1856 he went to Canada as a pupil of his relative, George Lowe Reid, then the Engineer-in-Chief of the Great Western of Canada Railway, under whom he spent five years on the works of construction of that line and of its branches.

Early in 1861, having acquired much practical knowledge of railway construction, he was engaged by the firm of Lee, Watson and Aiton to join their engineering staff on the works of a section of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, for which they were the contractors.

When that work was finished he received an appointment on the engineering staff of Joseph Bray, contractor for a section of the same line in the Nizam’s State.

In 1869 Mr. Reid entered into partnership with Messrs. Charnock and Mitchell, under the style of Charnock, Reid and Mitchell, for the reconstruction of the bridges on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway between Bhusawal and Nagpur, and for the maintenance of the permanent-way.

In 1871 he, with F. D. Mitchell, tendered for, and was successful in obtaining, the contract for the construction of the Ceylon Government Railway, between Peredenia and Kawalapitya. Before the works were finished, his partnership with Mr. Mitchell was severed, and the extension was completed by Mr. Reid to the entire satisfaction of Mr. E. G. Strong, the Chief Resident Engineer, and of Sir Charles Hutton Gregory, the Consulting Engineer to the Government of Ceylon.

On the completion of this work, he undertook the construction of roads in the coffee districts of the island, and the maintenance by contract of many miles of trunk roads.

In 1877 he took in hand the contract for the construction of the branch railway between Handy and Matale, under Mr. J. R. Mosse, Chief Resident Engineer. This was executed with great skill and despatch, for which he was highly complimented by the Lieutenant-Governor of the island.

His next public work was the construction, in conjunction with Mr. John Mackay, of Hereford, of the Jamaica Government Railway Extension, from Old Harbour to Porus, and from Spanish Town to Ewarton, under the direction of Mr. Valentine G. Bell, the Chief Resident Engineer, and of Messrs. Hawkshaw and Hayter, the Consulting Engineers. This line was remarkable for the successful construction of the whole of its bridges and viaducts in Portland cement concrete, there being no durable building stone in that part of the island. The railway was opened for public traffic in the year 1885.

In the meanwhile, Mr. Reid had devoted a considerable portion of his time and attention to the cultivationzof tea in Ceylon. On the failure of the coffee plant in 1875-78, he had bought some abandoned coffee est,ates and a considerable tract of jungle land. He exhibited his usual energy and spirit of enterprise in this new industry, and was the first tea planter on a large scale who introduced the produce of his estates to the London market, where Ceylon teas in a few years acquired that high reputation which has steadily increased to the present day. His success in this enterprise induced him in 1886 to found the 'Ceylon Tea Plantations Company,' now one of the most prosperous undertakings in the island.

On returning to England in 1881, Mr. Reid settled in his native county on the estate of Thomanean, within a few miles of his birthplace, and there spent the remaining eleven years of his life, devoting himself to various public duties. He was elected a member of the Orwell School Board, Vice-chairman of the County Council, and Captain of the 'G' Company of Argyle and Sutherland Volunteers. His public spirit and force of character, combined with sound judgment, soon gained for him a leading position in the counties of Clackmannan and Einross. Unfortunately, the strain of these numerous self-imposed labours proved too much for a constitution already weakened by a previous severe illness, and he was suddenly cut off in the midst of a life of unusual activity and usefulness, dying, after a brief illness, of peritonitis, at Thomanean, on the 13th of April, 1892.

Mr. Reid was a man of unwonted energy, ability, and steadfastness of purpose, and was held in great esteem by all who came in contact with him. Generous and large-hearted, he was ever ready to lend a helping hand to those deserving it. He married, while in Ceylon, Maria, a daughter of the late Sir William Bacon Johnston, Bart., and leaves a family of two, sons and four daughters.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of May, 1872.



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