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British Industrial History

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James Samuel Cooke

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James Samuel Cooke (c1829-1887)

1876 James S Cooke, M.I.C.E, of 5 Raymond Buildings, Grays Inn, London WC.[1]


1887 Obituary [2]


JAMES SAMUEL COOKE, the eldest son of the late Joseph Cooke, a wool-merchant of Colchester, was educated at King’s Langley Vicarage, Herts, and afterwards for a short time at Cirencester College.

He was then articled to Mr. Peter Bruff, M.Inst.C.E., from 1847 to 1852, and remained in the same office until the end of 1857 as an assistant, during which time he had charge of many important engineering surveys and works of construction on the late Eastern Union, Ipswich to Bury and Norwich, Waveney Valley, Norwich and Spalding, and Eastern Counties Railways, Harwich Pier, &c.

He was next employed on various undertakings, such as a railway survey in Turkey for the late Mr. James Samuel, M.Inst.C.E., and Mr. J. P. Kennedy, M.Inst.C.E., and, on his own account in laying out the Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea Railway, and the Mistley, Thorpe, and Walton Railway, both in Essex, and afterwards in their construction.

Upon the former railway there is an important swing-bridge across Brightlingsea Creek, with a central opening, and although but little used for navigable purposes, it is a work of undoubted merit. The latter railway, although mainly constructed, was ultimately abandoned. Most of the road-bridges remaining intact to the present time, but its cuttings and embankments have been taken possession of by the adjacent owners, and the earthwork obliterated.

He was also the Engineer for the Malden Harbour improvement works, and of a railway in Lincolnshire between Wainfleet and Skegness.

About 1870 or 1872 he made two journeys to Russia, visiting St. Petersburg and Moscow ; thence through the Caucasus, in order to report upon a line of country suitable for a railway. He was engaged on surveys and reports on railways, harbour and reclamation works in Asia Minor, Belgium, Denmark and Russia.

He prepared a fresh main drainage system for Croydon ; and designed and built a new bridge over the Colne at Colchester, constructing also the Colchester Market. During the last ten years of his life he was connected with various foreign railway companies, including the Smyrna and Aidin Extension, the Mexican National and other lines. He also inspected material for permanent-way and rolling-stock, at the manufactories in Wales and Germany. He made two trips to South Africa for the Kimberley Mining Company and the Ostrich- and Goat-farming Company.

Mr. Cooke was a good mechanic, a clever structural designer and draughtsman, and a sound and painstaking engineer. He was also something of a naturalist, being particularly fond of birds. He died on the 6th of March, 1887, in his fifty-eighth year.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 5th of March, 1861, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 11th of November, 1873.


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