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Thomas Colclough Watson

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Thomas Colclough Watson (1822-1890)

1891 Obituary [1]

THOMAS COLCLOUGH WATSON, eldest son of Mr. William Jonas Watson, of the Manor House, St. Nicholas, Glamorgan, was born on the 29th of August, 1822. He was a pupil of Mr. George Turnbull during the construction of the West Bute Dock, at Cardiff, and was also employed on the Middlesbro’ Docks. He was next engaged with Mr. P. Barlow upon railway work at Tunbridge, and in 1847 upon the railway from Louvain to the Sambre in Belgium, after which he was for some time Resident Engineer on the Great Northern Railway, at Grantham. He spent eight years at Orebro, on the Royal Swedish Railway, and his services on that line, the first railway constructed in Sweden, were highly appreciated by the king, who offered him a decoration. He also made a private railway there for Mr. Oscar Dickson.

After successfully completing his work in Sweden, he went to Russia as Chief Resident Engineer on the Riga and Dunaburg Railway, under Sir John Hawkshaw, and subsequently became the contractor for the completion of the works, in partnership with James Ashbury.

It was during this latter period that the accident happened by which he lost his right leg. The train by which he was travelling in his carriage was wrecked by running over a trolley that some workmen had left on the line, about 40 miles from Riga. His servant, sitting on the box, was killed.

In 1864, Mr. Watson went to Holland, and while there superintended, on behalf of Messrs. H. Lee and Sons, the construction of the Zuider Zee locks, and the closing of the Y, an estuary of the Zuider Zee, east of Amsterdam, by means of fascines, and afterwards took charge of the works between Amsterdam and the North Sea harbour. A description of this method of forming dams, so extensively used in Holland, was communicated by him to the Institution. For this essay Mr. Watson received a Telford Premium. Since that time he had been engaged upon railways at Natal, and on the La Guaira and Caraccas Railway.

Mr. Watson died suddenly on the 2nd of July, 1890, on board his yacht the “Kriemhilda.” He had been cruising in the Channel for about a fortnight, and had put into Ryde, before proceeding to Dartmouth, and thence to the Forth Bridge. He had gone on deck, feeling in excellent health, to smoke a cigar, as was his custom after breakfast, and was thought to be sleeping in his chair. After a while some matter arising as to which it was necessary to consult him, it was found that he had passed away without a struggle, and without any of those who were near his chair being aware that anything was wrong with him. The cause of his death was apoplexy.

Mr. Watson was of a most kind and genial disposition, generous to a fault, and ever ready to help his friends, especially those in distress, and was universally beloved and respected. He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 6th of March, 1849.

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