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British Industrial History

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Henry Daniel Martin

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Henry Daniel Martin (1811-1898)

1838 Henry Daniel Martin became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1899 Obituary [2]

HENRY DANIEL MARTIN was born in Greek Street, Soho, London, in the year 1811, and was sent at an early age to a preparatory school in the neighbourhood, afterwards proceeding to a school in King Street, St. James’s, then well known for its success in mathematical studies.

At the age of 15 he was articled to Mr. Thomas Nicholls, who had a large practice as an architect and surveyor. During his pupilage, in the year 1831, he obtained a studentship in the Royal Academy, then situated at Somerset House in the Strand, intending to pursue the separate calling of architect.

But while assisting Mr. Wilkins, R.A., in making the drawings and estimate for the National Gallery, circumstances changed this intention, and he was appointed to succeed James Walker, Past-President, to take charge of the works at the East India Docks. Shortly after, when that Company was amalgamated with the West India Dock Co, he was entrusted with the additional charge of the works at that establishment, being appointed engineer to the united companies. In that capacity he projected and carried out works of considerable magnitude, and this connection naturally led to his being engaged in the construction of works of the same kind on the River Thames and elsewhere, especially of docks, both wet and dry, wharves, jetties, quays and warehouses.

In the year 1846 Mr. Martin was requested by the then London and Birmingham Railway Company (subsequently re-named the London and North-Western), in conjunction with the dock companies, to lay out a line connecting that system of railways with the docks and the port of London.

When the Bill dealing with that project was lodged in Parliament it was introduced as a means of promoting the conveyance of merchandise only, without any expectation of its becoming available for the service of passenger traffic, but long before the line was completed, the suburban districts through which it passed had increased in population so rapidly as to necessitate providing for its accommodation as a passenger line, and consequently the improvement of the physical features of the undertaking, the provision of frequent shipping stations, the making of approach roads and other variations had to be made to adapt the railway to the altered conditions of traffic. This line, now known as the North London Railway, became the base of extensions to various parts of the metropolis and its surroundings, including a continuation to the heart of the city of London, the line passing through one of the most crowded neighbourhoods in the metropolis.

At the Port of London terminus the principal undertakings consisted of the laying down lines of rails at the quays of the docks for the use of vehicles employed in receiving or discharging cargoes from or into vessels lying alongside, and the further delivery from or into the warehouses, the whole of the operations being facilitated by the expeditious and economical means of extensive hydraulic machinery in substitution for the tardy and costly operation of manual labour then in use. Further docks and extensive warehouses were built for special goods and mineral traffic, in addition to extensions of the lines, the erection of the terminal station at Blackwall, and the construction of similar works at other places both for passenger and merchandize uses.

In the year 1855 Mr. Martin was appointed Consulting Engineer to the East India Company, and while holding that position he designed various important works, including bridges, barracks, roads, machinery, etc., more especially such as were required during the period of the Mutiny. Many were of an exceptional character, as great rapidity of construction in some cases was of the utmost importance, and necessitated work of a peculiar and novel kind to suit the unusual conditions. An interesting feature of this work was the energy which was shown by the men employed at the various establishments where the work required for transmission to India during the Mutiny was carried out night and day with unceasing vigour and the most zealous alacrity. That appointment he held till the abolition of the company, the transference of its powers to the Imperial Government, and the consequent employment of military officers for engineering purposes.

In his later years Mr. Martin was engaged in making a survey and in improving the navigation of the River Medina and its estuary, and as he had constructed several quays and bridges in various parts of the Isle of Wight, he turned his attention to the introduction of railways into that island, and laid out a system of lines, most of which were constructed under his superintendence.

Mr. Martin died on the 25th September, 1898, at his residence, Halberry, Newport, in the Isle of Wight, at the age of 87.

He was at the time of his death the “Father of the Institution,” having been elected an Associate on the 20th March, 1838, and transferred to the class of Members on the 4th May, 1858.

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