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Henry Hay Wake

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Henry Hay Wake (1844-1911)

Engineer to the River Wear Commission, Sunderland.


1911 Obituary [1]

HENRY HAY WAKE was born in Sunderland on 2nd January 1844, and in 1860 entered, as a pupil, the service of Mr. Thomas Meik who was at that time engineer to the River Wear Commissioners.

In 1868, at the comparatively early age of twenty-five, he was appointed engineer to the said Commissioners upon the retirement of Mr. Meik, and he therefore remained practically the whole of his lifetime in the service of the River Wear Commission.

An idea of the extent of the work under Mr. Wake's control may be gathered from the fact that the jurisdiction of the Commission covers the tidal part of the river, a dock estate of 250 acres, and a stretch of coast along the North Sea. The Roker Harbour Works were built to his designs and under his personal superintendence and were completed in 1903; they form the defence to the entrance to the River Wear. The two piers forming the harbour extend to a length of about 2,800 feet each, and enclose about 125 acres of water at high water. These works were visited by the Members of this Institution on the occasion of the Summer Meeting in Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1902, and all who took part in that visit will have pleasant recollections of their reception by the River Wear Commissioners and of the admirable arrangements made by Mr. Wake to enable them to examine the operations in progress.

He drew up the plans for providing Sunderland with a complete system of wet and graving docks, including the installation of coal staiths and a complete set of warehouses.

In 1907 he retired to take up the position of consulting engineer to the same Commission, a post which he retained until his death. He was a recognized expert in harbour work, and acted as consulting engineer for several other corporations and public bodies; in this connection he contributed largely to the development of Seaham Harbour.

Of late years his health had been failing, and his death took place at his residence in Sunderland on 17th February 1911, at the age of sixty-seven.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1881; he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.


1911 Obituary [2]

HENRY HAY WAKE, Engineer to the River Wear Commissioners, died in Sunderland, his birthplace, on the 17th February, 1911, aged 66.

A pupil of the late Mr. Thomas Meik, then Engineer to the Commissioners, he succeeded that gentleman as engineer-in-charge in 1868. During his tenure of that office, he carried out extensive improvements of the port of Sunderland, including the removal of rock obstructions at the entrance, the reconstruction of docks, erection of warehouses and other structures, and the design and construction of two large piers or breakwaters, one of which is not yet completed.

In conjunction with the late Mr. P. W. Meik, he also designed the new piers at Seaham Harbour.

Mr. Wake was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 24th May, 1870, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 10th March, 1874.


1911 Obituary [3]

HENRY HAY WAKE died at his residence, 14 Thornhill Gardens, Sunderland, on February 17, 1911. He was born in Sunderland in 1843; he entered in 1860, as a pupil, the service of Mr. Thomas Meik, who was at that time engineer to the River Wear Commissioners. In 1868, at the comparatively early age of twenty-five, he was appointed engineer to the said Commissioners upon the retirement of Mr. Meik, and he had, therefore, remained practically the whole of his lifetime in the service of the River Wear Commission. Under his direction several important schemes of dock extension and improvement were carried out. One of them was commenced in 1898, and it involved the expenditure of considerably over a quarter of a million of money.

It consisted of the enlargement of Hudson Dock North, the rebuilding of No. 1 Gateway, the construction of deep-water quays, and the erection of new staithes and jetties.. Mr. Wake's chief work, however, was the designing and building of the Roker and South piers, which have done so much to develop Sunderland as a shipping centre.

He was consulting engineer to the Aberdeen Harbour Authority, and he jointly with Mr. P. W. Meik, of Westminster, designed the piers at Seaham Harbour.

He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and held the position of president to the Newcastle-on-Tyne students' branch.

He was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1885.


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