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John William Miers

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John William Miers (1819-1892)

of J. and F. Miers

1864 John William Miers, Engineer, 74 Addison Road, Kensington Road, London W.[1]


1892 Obituary [2]

JOHN WILLIAM MIERS was born at Villa Vicencio in the Andes on 2nd May 1819, and passed his childhood in Chili.

He was educated in England, and, after a course of theoretical and practical instruction in civil and mechanical engineering, went out to Brazil in 1841. There he devoted his attention to the improvement of the rude appliances then used in the coffee and sugar estates; and in 1845 established at Rio do Janeiro, in conjunction with his brother, engineering works for the construction of machines, and the building and repairing of steamboats, &c.

A plan of movable coffer-dam, which they adopted for the purpose of examining and removing the screw propeller of a ship while still floating was mentioned by Sir Frederick Bramwell in 1878 (Proceedings, page 179).

They also carried out several important contracts for dredging, and for erecting iron structures, lighthouses, and other work for the Brazilian government. He returned to England in 1863.

His death took place at Kensington on 28th January 1892, in the seventy-third year of his age, from pneumonia following influenza.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1864.


1892 Obituary [3]

JOHN WILLIAM MIERS was born on the 2nd of Nay, 1810, at Villa Vicencio, an elevated spot in the Andes, 45 miles from Mendoza in the Argentine Republic. His parents at the time were journeying to Chili, where his father, the late Mr. John Miers, F.R.S., had taken up, conjointly with Lord Cochrane, then Admiral of the Chilian Navy, some mining and engineering projects.

His early childhood was passed in Chili, but in 1826 he was sent to Buenos Ayres and in the following year to England.

After receiving a good school education, he obtained some experience in surveying and levelling with a view of becoming a Civil Engineer, and in 1838 entered the works of the late Mr. John Hague as a pupil, under Mr. (now Sir) Frederick Bramwell then in charge of the drawing-office.

In 1841 Mr. Miers was invited to Brazil, to advise on a projected line of railway in the neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.

On completing the survey and estimating the cost,, he, however, could not, under the conditions of traffic existing at that time, recommend its construction as a commercial undertaking. His attention being then called to the great need of improving the rude appliances in use in the country, he passed a few years at some of the principal coffee and sugar estates in the interior, devoting his time to improvements in the application of water-power, to the construction of water-wheels, and more especially to perfecting the machines for pulping, husking, and drying coffee, giving a stimulus to that industry which has raised Brazil to be the largest and most important coffee-producing country in the world.

In 1845 Mr. Miers, in conjunction with his brother, Francis, established a factory at Rio de Janeiro for the construction of steam-engines and other machinery. This soon became of considerable importance. A yard was afterwards added for the building of steamboats for coast and river service.

Contracts were carried out with the government for dredging and improving the Rio Inhomerim, then the only highway to the Estrella range of mountains and to Petropolis; for the erection of iron roofs over the building-slips and other structures in the Marine Arsenal; and for the construction of lighthouses at Rio Grande do Sui and on the Abrolhos reefs, as well as for many other important works.

While superintending in 1857 the firing of a large blast at the Imperial graving-dock at Rio, Mr. Miers met with a severe accident from a falling piece of rock, which necessitated abstention from all work for a time. During this period he visited England, and also went to Rio Grande and Buenos Ayres in search of health.

A continued residence in a hot climate being considered undesirable, he finally retired from business in 1863, and from that time resided in London. He was held in high estimation by the leading authorities in Brazil during his residence in that country, and his courteous manner and desire to serve others made him many friends.

Mr. Miers died from pneumonia on the 28th of January, 1802. He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of December, 18G9.



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