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John Martin McCurrich

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John Martin McCurrich (1852-1899) of Bristol Docks


1899 Obituary [1]

JOHN MARTIN McCURRICH was born at Dunning, Perthshire, on the 5th November, 1852.

He was educated at Dunning, at the Dollar Academy, where he was the medallist of his year, and at Edinburgh University, where he graduated M.A.

He then entered the office of Messrs. R. B. Bell and D. Miller, of Glasgow and Westminster, in 1875, for a term of three years, and after the expiration of his pupilage remained as an assistant until 1883.

While there he was engaged on a great variety of work, including the Clyde Navigation Graving Dock, Grangemouth Waterworks, an iron and stone bridge over the River Kelvin at Glasgow, and the survey, tidal readings and observations for the navigation of the River Cart, a work which has since been carried out.

In April, 1883, Mr. McCurrich was appointed Resident Engineer in charge during the construction of the No. 2 Mount Stuart Graving Dock at Cardiff, which was constructed, from designs by Mr. Peter Whyte, without a contractor, and included a large cofferdam, two pairs of iron gates, sluices, &C., besides a large amount of masonry and concrete work.

On the completion of the dock in August, 1884, he was appointed an assistant to Mr. John Wilson, Engineer-in-Chief of the Great Eastern Railway, where, in addition to designing and superintending the construction of dock, roof, and bridge works, he was engaged on hydraulic work, in connection with which he inspected and reported on the hydraulic appliances at several of the chief railway goods stations in England and Scotland.

In June, 1885, Mr. McCurrich entered the service of the Docks Committee of the Port of Bristol, as an assistant to Mr. J. W. Girdlestone. For nearly four years he had charge of the drawing office, and under the direction of Mr. Girdlestone he was responsible for the design and carrying out of new works.

In February, 1889, he was appointed Chief Assistant, and, on the resignation of Mr. Girdlestone in November, 1890, he succeeded to the position of Docks Engineer.

During the period which followed he was engaged on a great number and variety of works, among which may be mentioned a large grain warehouse, with grain elevating and conveying machinery; extensive transit warehouses at Bristol and Avonmouth, with hydraulic cranes, capstans, &c.; a new deep-water wharf wall; the widening and deepening of a bridgeway connecting two portions of the floating harbour, including cofferdams, &c.; new workshops, locomotive sheds and offices; a pumping station; two hydraulic engine-houses, with four sets of compound pumping-engines, boilers, accumulators, mains, &c.; extensive cattle lairs, slaughter-houses and refrigerators; new culverts and large hydraulic sluices for the relief of floods and the scouring of Cumberland Basin; a floating dock, gridiron and slip for repairs of vessels; and many important works, including extensive port and river improvements for enabling vessels of increased tonnage tor each the City docks.

A considerable proportion of these works was done without a contractor; SO that he became thoroughly familiar with the details of the work, and with the value of materials and labour. He was also engaged on the drawings, specifications, quantities, &c., for a coding dock and graving dock at Avonmouth, and for a large bascule bridge at Bristol, and on the Parliamentary and other drawings for new railways in connection with the docks (Session 1890). He had likewise considerable experience in dredging operations, the removing of rocks and shoals in the river, and the construction and maintenance of the necessary dredging plant. A recent work of interest was adapting the entrance lock of Avonmouth Dock for vessels of greater length by inserting a new sill, and the construction of a movable caisson.

Mr. McCurrich's most engrossing work was, perhaps, in connection with the several schemes for new docks at Avonmouth and Portishead, and for the dockization of the River Avon, which have been put before the Docks Committee of the Council. The preparation of plans and reports relating to this matter involved an immense amount of work and anxiety, Mr. McCurrich was exceedingly conscientious and painstaking, and most devoted in the performance of the duties attached to his post.

The illness which came upon him while engaged in the consideration of these important schemes, on the results of which many influential citizens consider the future of the Port of Bristol to depend, ended fatally on the 18th January, 1899.

Mr. McCurrich was a man of sound common sense, well read, and of great good nature and modesty. He was beloved by his immediate subordinates and held in high regard by the large number of men employed under his direction. He was not only a most capable engineer, but was gifted with a clear, sound judgment, which rendered his advice very reliable and gained for him the confidence of the Docks Committee, and indeed, of all with whom he came in contact.

Mr. McCurrich was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 1st December, 1885, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 22nd November, 1892.


1899 Obituary [2]



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