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Octavus Deacon Clark

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Octavus Deacon Clark (1833-1894)


1894 Obituary [1]

OCTAVUS DEACON CLARK was born in London on the 23rd of October, 1833.

From 1852 to 1855 he served a pupilage to John Beard Carruthers, civil engineer, London, who expressed entire satisfaction of his strict attention and business-like habits during that period.

In May, 1856, he was appointed an Assistant Engineer on the Madras Railway and for the next two years was occupied in surveying and in staking out portions of that line. Disappointed at not obtaining permanent charge of a district of which he had had temporary control, he resigned the Company's service in 1858, and from April to October of that year was engaged on the staff of the contractors for the Bombay Waterworks.

In October, 1858, Mr. Clark was appointed an Assistant Engineer on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, in the service of which Company he remained for nearly fourteen years. For the first twelve months he was engaged in selecting the course of the line through the jungle and hilly district of Asurgarh, and from then until the commencement of 1869 he had charge of 20 miles of construction.

From January, 1869, to June, 1870, he was in charge of 40 miles of construction carried out departmentally, and from the latter date he was Resident Engineer of a district of 100 miles. Among the works he assisted in carrying out during that period may be mentioned the Nerbudda Viaduct, consisting of five spans of 150 feet each, with six land arches of 40 feet each, and the locomotive shops and sheds at Jubbulpur.

In 1872 Mr. Clark was appointed Deputy Executive Engineer to the Municipality of Bombay, under Rienzi Walton.

He was at once placed in charge, as Resident Engineer, of the construction of the Tulsi Waterworks, including a rubble masonry dam 79 feet in height, which he carried out to the satisfaction of his chief. During the rainy season he was employed in Bombay on the miscellaneous duties of the Engineer’s Department, and specially on the maintenance of roads and the supervision of buildings.

Mr. Clark held this appointment until 1875, when he obtained the post of Engineer to the Municipality of Rangoon. In that capacity he designed and carried out the Rangoon Waterworks and the Victoria Lake ; and, subsequently, after being deputed to investigate the various methods of drainage in operation in England, he advised the Municipality to adopt the Shone system. That advice was acted upon and the works were executed under his immediate supervision.

The following extract from the “Report on the Working of the Rangoon Municipality for the year 1889-1890,” shows that the manner in which Mr. Clark carried out these works was fully appreciated:-

“Mr. O. Deacon Clark, who had filled the office of Municipal Engineer since March, 1875, retired in March, 1890, in consequence of ill health. The Committee recorded in its minutes its appreciation of the services rendered to the Corporation by Mr. Clark, and voted him a bonus, subject to the provisions of the Civil Service Regulations. The industry, experience and professional ability of Mr. Clark rendered his services of the utmost value to the Municipality. The Rangoon Water Works and the Victoria Lake, designed and carried out by Mr. Clark, and the Hydro-Pneumatic Drainage System, adopted on his advice and executed under his supervision, remain as fitting records of the excellent services rendered by him to Rangoon.”

With regard to the drainage of Rangoon it may be mentioned that the methods adopted for dealing with the sewage at the time when Mr. Clark took up his appointment as Executive Engineer were primitive to the last degree. After designing and carrying out the waterworks, it was natural that he should turn his attention to the proper drainage of the town. The following extract from the Report above referred to indicates the nature and extent of the works which were carried out under his advice and superintendence:-

“The works commenced in February, 1883, for the Drainage and Supplementary High-pressure Water-Supply for Rangoon on the Shone Hydro-Pneumatic System were completed during the year. The first portion of the new system was put in operation on the 10th August, 1889, and consisted of the drainage of blocks G, G 1, F, F 1, F 2, and E 1. Other blocks were added to these from time to time and the high-pressure was applied to the water on the 1st February, 1890. H.R.H. Prince Albert Victor of Wales was graciously pleased to open these works formally on the 23rd December, 1889. The contract allowed until the 30th April, 1891, for the completion of the works, but, with the exception of a few minor details, everything was finished by March, 1890.

“The system of drainage which has been applied to Rangoon was adopted, after considerable inquiry, as being the best suited to its requirements, and the only known one by which it could be drained properly on sound sanitary principles. Previous to 1874 no attempt was made to deal with the excreta of the population of Rangoon: cesspools were everywhere allowed, and the well water, then the only water available, became fearfully polluted as the soil of the city became more and more honeycombed with cesspools ; and cholera and small-pox were more or less endemic. In 1873-74 it became necessary to close cesspools in the Town, and the system W~B introduced which has prevailed from that time until now. Houses were provided with latrines from which scavengers removed the filth during the night, conveying it in carts to jetties above and below the Town, where it was thrown into the River at all states of the tide. This primitive system had been condemned for years, and a Committee was appointed in 1881 to make proposals for draining the city. They proposed a system of gravitating sewers, but no detailed estimate of the cost of the scheme was ever made, and neither surveys nor borings were undertaken. It was felt that a gravitating system of drainage for a perfectly flat, tidelocked city like Rangoon, could not under any circumstances be recommended on sanitary grounds, and it was thought that from the nature of the subsoil its construction might probably prove impracticable. It was also recognised that the combined system was impossible in Rangoon with its heavy rainfall. The Municipal Committee deputed Mr. Clark, who was in England in 1884, to examine drainage works there and report upon the best system suitable for Rangoon after consulting authorities who had made the subject of drainage a special study. Mr. Clark recommended the Shone system, which had proved highly successful in many places, and the Committee asked for a detailed project and estimate for the drainage of Rangoon on this system. The project was &awn up by Messrs. Shone and Ault, Westminster : and Mr. Clark and the Committee decided to adopt it, subject to the orders of the Local Government. The Local Government appointed a very strong Committee to investigate and report upon the project, and as this Committee’s report was entirely favourable, the Government of India sanctioned a loan of 23 lacs for carryivg out the work. In consequence of unavoidable delay in negotiating the loan, the contract was not signed until November, 1887, and the first instalment of the material did not arrive until February, 1888, since which time the work has been pushed on rapidly, and it is a matter for congratulation that, although the major portion of the work could only be carried on during the dry season, the contract has been completed a gear before the time allowed.”

After Mr. Clark's retirement from the post of Engineer to the principality of Rangoon in March, 1890, his health somewhat improved and he was able to undertake some contracts in India and in Burma for the Public Works Department. Long residence and active service in the East, however, had told upon his constitution and he was advised to give up work. He returned to England, but the liver complaint from which he suffered rapidly developed and he died at his residence, Kokine, Orpington, Kent, on the 6th of April, 1894.

Mr. Clark's kindly disposition and bright temperament gained him many friends, by whom his loss is much regretted. He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 5th of December, 1871, and was subsequently placed in the class of Associate Members created in 1878.


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