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James Wilson (1831-1906)

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James Wilson (Pasha) (1831-1906)


1907 Obituary [1]

JAMES WILSON (Pasha), born on the 17th December, 1831, at Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, served his apprenticeship to the shipbuilding and engineering firm of Messrs. R. Napier and Sons, of Glasgow, and after short periods of employment with other engineering firms, he went to sea as an engineer in the service of the Cunard Steamship Company, being for some time in the Crimea during the period of the war.

In 1857, having obtained the appointment of Chief Engineer to the Nile Steam-Towing Company, he went out to Egypt, where he was destined to spend the best part of his life......


1906 Obituary [2]

JAMES WILSON (Wilson Pasha) was born at Bridge of Weir, Renfrewshire, on 17th December 1831.

He served an apprenticeship with the shipbuilding and engineering firm of Messrs. R. Napier and Sons, of Govan, after which he joined the Cunard Steamship Co., in whose service he spent some time in the Crimea during the period of the war, at one or two engagements of which he was present.

In 1858 be went to Egypt and entered the service of Prince Ismail Pasha during the governorship of Said Pasha, and from that time on until be retired in 1901 from the service of the Egyptian Government, his duties lay in that country.

The first few years of his life in Egypt were spent in the erection of Cornish pumping-engines, sugar mills, cotton-gins and brick-making machinery, etc., in Lower Egypt and the Delta Valley generally.

In 1863 he definitely resolved to adopt the centrifugal pump as being the most suitable type of pump for irrigation purposes for Egypt, and in this year put down some of Appolds' pumps in the Delta.

In 1864, during the viceroyship of Ismail Pasha, he made trials of a Howard steam plough, and in 1866 he installed the first gas-making plant at one of the Viceroy's palaces in Cairo. In the following year he was appointed Inspector of Machinery for Lower Egypt.

In 1869 he erected ice-making plant at the Ghizeerah Palace, and brought out from England, for the same palace, perhaps the first fire-engine introduced into Egypt.

In the year 1870 he made trials of Fowler's steam ploughs, the introduction of which into Egypt at that time saved the country from a serious agricultural crisis owing to the cattle plague then prevalent, which made ploughing by native means an impossibility; and he introduced machinery for the manufacture of gunpowder in the following year.

In 1875 he received the appointment of Chief Engineer to the Egyptian Government, and at once took over entire technical control of the sugar and other estates of the Daira Sanieh Administration, with whirls he was directly associated from that time on until his retirement.

Among other numerous works which he carried out may be mentioned the erection of a large iron roof over the winter garden of Abdeen Palace, Cairo, and of the iron dome roof at Ghizeh Palace, Cairo.

He was also much occupied in the erection of cotton-gins for the Viceroy in 1877.

In 1879 he was appointed by a Government Commission to report on the estates and plant of the Domain de l'Etat Administration, and for his services he received the rank of Bey from Ismail Pasha.

In 1880 be constructed a large iron "dahabeah" in Cairo, this being the first iron boat of its class ever built entirely in Egypt, - the plates and frames for which were bent by aid of native labour on the banks of the Nile - and is still the largest dahabeah on that river.

After the bombardment of Alexandria, of which he was a spectator, and the terrible visitation of cholera which shortly followed, and through which he passed, he received from Tewfik Pasha, then Khedive, the Star of Egypt, and later in the same year be was raised to the rank of Moutemais.

From 1875, when he took over technical control of the Daira Sanieh sugar factories, his energies were devoted to the improvement and augmentation of the sugar output, and it is interesting to note that in the year 1878 the Daira Sanieh consisted of about 340,000 acres of land, 15 sugar factories, 250 kilometres of railway, 50 locomotives and 1,500 wagons.

In the year 1901 when he retired, the Administration's railway system had increased to 400 kilometres, 75 locomotives and 2,010 wagons, and the sugar output had increased from 26,000 tons in 1878 to 70,000 tons in 1901.

A feature which went far towards this improvement was his introduction of the double-crushing system, with the addition of hot imbibition water to the megass when passing between the cane mills.

He also devoted much attention to the utilisation of the sun-dried megass as fuel, and with special boiler furnaces a great saving in the coal bill was arrived at. The laying down in the workshops of the various factories of the newest machine tools enabled repairs, of even a heavy nature, to be carried out, and delays due to breakdowns were thus considerably curtailed. Steam ploughing was in use at all the factories, and a very complete system of irrigation by means of both Cornish and centrifugal pumps was introduced by him in the early days of his connection with the Daira Sanieh.

In 1886 Tewfik Pasha conferred on him the Imperial Order of the Medjidieh, and in 1891 the Imperial Order of the Osmanieh in recognition of services rendered in improving the working of the technical service of the Daira Sanieh.

In the year 1895 the present Khedive, Abbas Pasha, promoted him to the rank of Mirmiran, with the title of Pasha.

In 1900 Wilson Pasha was appointed by the Government to sit on a commission to examine into and report on the tenders for three 16-knot postal steamers for The Khedivial Steamship Company of Alexandria, the order for these boats being ultimately given to Messrs. R. Napier and Sons. He possessed a profound knowledge of Egypt, the natives, their customs and their language.

His death took place at his residence in Hampstead, London, on 24th February 1906, at the age of seventy-four.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1884.


1906 Obituary [3]



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