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John Pigott Smith

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John Pigott Smith (1798-1861)

1862 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN PIGOTT SMITH was born in the year 1798 ; he was early articled to a Land Surveyor and Valuer, and in process of time set up in business on his own account. Other opportunities, however, offering, he for a time embarked in business, and prepared and published trigonometrical surveys of the parishes of Brighton, Birmingham, &c. Eventually he drove one of the fast, coaches between London and Birmingham, in which position he had ample opportunity of studying, practically, the formation of good 'Macadam' roads, a knowledge which he subsequently turned to account.

At that period he made the acquaintance of the elder and the younger Stephenson, and was engaged by the former on surveys for Parliamentary Work. After some time he was elected the Surveyor for the town of Birmingham, and there he worked a great change in the character of the thoroughfares, for formerly even the footpaths were paved with round pebbles, familiarly styled 'petrified kidneys,' and the carriage ways were of the most uncomfortable kind. This state of things no longer exists, and there are now few towns where the thoroughfares are so well attended to as those of Birmingham. To attain this Mr. Pigott Smith devoted all his energies;- the system he introduced has been extensively copied in other places, and on this subject he contributed a paper which was read at a meeting of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1854, and for which a Telford medal was awarded to him.

His reputation as an authority in this branch of the profession was so high, that his advice was sought by the municipality of Paris when, after the popular tumults, during which paving stones were so freely used in the formation of barricades, it was determined to substitute the Macadam system as far as it was practicable, for the streets of the French capital.

In conjunction with the late Mr. John Roe (Assoc. Inst., C.E.), who was the consulting Engineer, Mr. Pigott Smith designed and partially executed a very complete system of sewerage for the town of Birmingham, and conjointly with Mr. Robert Rawlinson (Assoc. Inst. C.E.), he reported on the water supply for the Borough. His advice was also constantly sought for other towns, where improvements were required ; in fact few men of the period were more generally, or more usefully employed, and it is to be regretted that repeated applications to the surviving friends and relatives of the late Mr. Smith have failed to extract from them the information for drawing up a Memoir which might have been made very interesting.

Mr. Pigott Smith was appointed Surveyor to the Commissioners of the Rirmingham Improvement Acts in 1885, and on the vesting of their powers, together with those of the other parishes comprised within the borough, in the hands of the Town Council, in 1851, was appointed Borough Surveyor, which office he held until his retirement in 1857.

He was much respected in his professional position, and his decease, which occurred at Manor House, Halford, Shipston-on-Stour, on the twenty-second of April, 1861, in his sixty-fourth year, caused great regret to a large circle of friends.

He joined the Institution of Civil Engineers as an Associate in the year 1851, and he always took much interest in the proceedings.

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