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British Industrial History

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John Harris

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John Harris (1812-1869) of Albert Hill Foundry, Darlington

1812 July 16th. Born at Maryport

1840 John Harris of Darlington, more than four year Resident Engineer to the Stockton and Darlington Railway, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1844 April 11th. Married at Kendal to Mary Wilson

1851 Living at Woodside, Darlington: John Harris (age 38 born Maryport), Civil Engineer. With his wife Mary Harris (age 31 born Kendal) and their daughter Mary Elizth Harris (age 5 born Darlington). Four servants.[2]

1853 Took a lease on Hope Town Foundry, and Mr. Summerson was appointed manager, being in the course of time taken into partnership.[3]. And between 1863-1869 built about twelve locomotives.

1855 Patent. 'John Harris, of Woodside, near Darlington, civil engineer, and Thomas Summerson, of West Auckland, near Darlington aforesaid, ironfounder, for an improvement in the manufacture of iron railway wheels'[4]

1861 Living at Woodside, Darlington: John Harris (age 48 born Maryport), Land and Coal Proprietor. With his wife Mary Harris (age 41 born Kendal) and their daughter Bertha Harris (age 5 born Darlington). Five servants.[5]

1871 Obituary [6]

John Harris was a native of Cumberland, and was born on the 16th of July, 1812.

After completing his term of pupillage with the late Mr. Thomas Storey, Civil and Mining Engineer of St. Helens Auckland, in the county of Durham, he became Engineer to the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company, and was engaged both in the maintenance of the permanent way and works of that line, and in the construction of new works and branches in connection with it. Of the latter the principal were, the Middlesbrough Dock and its coal-shipping staithes and railway approaches; a bridge across the Tees at Stockton, to replace a suspension bridge which had failed to answer its purpose as a railway bridge; the Middlesbrough and Redcar railway, and an extension of the Wear Valley railway from Crook to Waskerley.

In the construction of the Middlesbrough Dock and its appurtenances, he was associated with the late Sir W. (then Mr.) Cubitt, Past-President Inst. C.E., as consulting Engineer, and George Turnbull, M.Inst.C.E., as Resident Engineer, and in the design of the Tees bridge he had the advice of the late Robert Stephenson, Past-President Inst. C.E.

He was one of the earliest to recommend and adopt wooden sleepers for railways in preference to stone blocks, which at that time (1839) were commonly used.

In 1844 he became contractor for the maintenance of the permanent way and works of the Stockton and Darlington railway. He also constructed the Wakefield, Pontefract, and Goole railway and its branches, and the Kendal and Windermere railway, which had been designed and commenced by the late Mr. Errington, V.P. Inst. C.E.

Besides these he was the contractor for the construction of the Middlesbrough and Guisbrough railway, the Stanley branch of the Stockton and Darlington railway, a large bridge across the river Wear, near Witton for the Stockton and Darlington Railway Company, a description of which he communicated to the Institution, and for various minor works.

The last ten years of his life were passed without professional occupation. He took an interest in public affairs, was a member of the Board of Health in Darlington, the place of his residence, and frequently attended public meetings.

Mr. Harris was elected a Graduate of the Institution on the 14th of April, 1840, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 6th of April, 1841. He was of an open, genial disposition, and was universally respected by those under him.

He died at Kendal on the 20th of July, 1869.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1840 Institution of Civil Engineers
  2. 1851 Census
  3. Obituary of Thomas Summerson
  4. Durham County Advertiser - Friday 27 July 1855
  5. 1861 Census
  6. 1871 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816