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British Industrial History

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John Howkins

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John Howkins (1839-1906)

1873 Birth of son John Drysdale Howkins

1906 Obituary [1]

. . . John Howkins, engineer and general superintendent of Granton Harbour. Mr. Howkins was born at Granton in September, 1839. . . [more]

1906 Obituary [2]

JOHN HOWKINS was born in September, 1839, at Granton, where his father was acting as Resident Engineer on the harbour-works then under construction for the Duke of Buccleuch.

The subject of this notice was educated in Edinburgh, and served a pupilage of 5 years to the late Mr. James Leslie, for whom he subsequently superintended the repair of a breach in the West Pier of Methill Hasbour in Fifeshire.

After spending a short time in the office of Messrs. M'Clean and Stileman, in Westminster, he was in 1862 appointed Resident Engineer by the Harbour Trustees of Stranraer to superintend the completion of a low-water steamboat-pier designed by Mr. Leslie for the accommodation of steamers engaged in the Irish trade.

On the completion of this work in 1863, he returned to Messrs. M'Clean and Stileman's office, and at the end of that year was appointed Resident Engineer of the new bridge at Weybridge designed by that firm. The bridge was opened in 1865, when Mr. Howkins was transferred to the Furness and Midland Railway, and was engaged in surveying and setting out the section of that line between Wennington and Carnforth.

In the following year, he succeeded Mr. Frank M'Clean as Resident Engineer on the Devonshire Dock works, then under construction by his firm at Barrow-in-Furness, and superintended these works until after the opening of the dock in 1867.

Mr. Howkins commenced private practice in Edinburgh in 1868, but having obtained the appointment of Engineer to the Hartlepool Port and Harbour Commissioners in 1870, he removed to Hartlepool, and for the next 7 years was employed in carrying out the improvements which the Commissioners had begun in 1869 from the designs of Mr. Thomas Dyke, who was then their Engineer. The principal undertakings were the extension of the breakwater and the removal of the bar at the entrance to the outer harbour of Hartlepool: the successful accomplishment of the latter led to the construction by the North Eastern RailwaCy ompany of the larged ocks and timber-ponds which now occupy the site of the Old Slake.

Mr. Howkins left Hartlepool in 1877 to become Engineer and General Superintendent of Granton Harbour, in succession to his father, a position which he retained until his death. He designed and carried out all the works connected with that harbour undertaken during his tenure of ofice, and was occasionally consulted in regard to similar works elsewhere, notably the improvement of the harbour of Scarborough carried out between the years 1878 and 1881. For many years his services were retained as Consulting Engineer to the Commissioners of the Port and Harbour of Hartlepool.

Mr. Howkins died at Granton on the 26th April, 1906, aged 66.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 5th February, 1867, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 3rd December, 1872.

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