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British Industrial History

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Thomas Dawson Ridley

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Thomas Dawson Ridley (1825-1898)


1898 Obituary [1]

THOMAS DAWSON RIDLEY, born at Acklington, Northumberland, on the 4th February, 1825, was a descendant of the old Northumberland family of Ridleys, of Willimoteswick on South Tyne.

He began his career in the office of Henry Welch, an early member of the Institution, who was at that time County Surveyor of Northumberland. He was then employed by the contractor who carried out, under Sir John Rennie, the earliest works at Warkworth Harbour, after which he had a year’s experience, in 1845, on the construction of the Whitehaven Junction Railway.

His next move was to Harlow Hill, where, as one of the contractors, he was engaged in 1846 and 1847 in the construction of the reservoirs at Welton for the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Co

Mr. Ridley was then occupied for four years in sundry engineering and building operations in the district around Newcastle. Among these was the erection of some of the earlier works established at Jarrow by Palmer Brothers, which works eventually became large and important as Palmer’s Shipbuilding and Iron Company.

In 1853 he went to West Hartlepool to act asengineer and manager to the contractor, William Hutchinson, in the construction of the Swainson Dock. On the completion of that dook Mr. Ridley was engaged for upwards of a year at Hexham in the construction of a portion of the Border Counties Railway.

The work included the erection of a bridge across the River Tyne, near Hexham, designed by John F. Tone. The site was awkward and the foundations of a difficult character, below the 11 feet of water being an unlimited deopft hg ravel and boulders. He next took a contract for the Waskerley Deviation of the Stockton and Darlington Railway, after which in 1859 he undertook the execution of the Hermitage contract, extending from Newcastleton to Riccarton on the Border Union Railway, under Mr. Tone. In the latter case, owing to heavy rainfall and the slippery nature of the clay out of the cutbings, considerable trouble and anxiety were caused in respect to the embankments, which would not stand at anything like the specified slopes.

In 1864 Mr. Ridley became engineer and manager for A. W. Ritson in the execution of contract No. 2 of the Thames Embankment, extending from the landing-pier at Waterloo Bridge to the eastern end of Temple Gardens, and 6 years later he read before the Institution a Paper descriptive of the cofferdams he had designed for excluding the wateri n the prosecution of that work.

For that Paper he was awarded a Telford medal and premium. After the completion of the Thames Embankment, Mr. Ridley undertook a contract for the extension of the dock at Middlesbrough, settling in 1869 at Redcar, where he resided for the remainder of his life. During that period he executed many railway and other contracts, including a section of the Whitby, Redcar and Middlesbrough Railway ; the extension of the Great Eastern line to Chingford; heavy works of piling and excavation required in the construction of the Great Eastern Railway Company’s shipping quay at Parkeston, Harwich; the North Eastern Company’s branch from Sherburn House to Durham ; an extension of the Union Dock, West Hartlepool; heavy piling, concrete and masonry for the construction of the new Dowlais Ironworks at Cardiff; filter ponds for the Cardiff Corporation, and large extensions of the Consett Ironworks in the county of Durham.

Mr. Ridley died at his residence, Willimoteswick, Coatham, near Redcar, on the 13th January, 1898. He was elected an Associate on the 4th March, 1856.


1898 Obituary [2]

"...late Mr. Ridley, who was born at Acklington, Northumberland with which county his family have been associated for generations-in 1825, was connected with engineering from early life, his father having been associated with the construction of some of the earliest railways in England, among others, as assistant engineer in the laying down of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, the Brandling Junction line, the Newcastle and North Shields, the Border Counties line, &c. His son, the subject of this obituary, commenced his career with Mr. Henry Welch, M.Inst. C.E., county surveyor of Northumberland. Afterwards he was engaged in connection with the earliest works at Warkworth Harbour, designed by Sir John Rennie, and from there he proceeded in 1845 to..."


1898 Obituary [3]

THOMAS DAWSON RIDLEY died on January 13, 1898, at his residence at Redcar, at the age of seventy-three, having been born at Acklington, in Northumberland. His father was professionally engaged in the construction of railways in their early days, and he himself had been from his youth practically engaged in engineering work. He erected some of the earlier works at Jarrow, for what is now Palmer's Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Limited.

In 1853 he was engaged in the construction of the Swainson Dock at West Hartlepool, and subsequently laid down the Waskerley deviation of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. Between 1864 and 1869 he superintended the erection of that portion of the Thames Embankment from Waterloo Bridge to the Temple, for which he designed the coffer-dams which were successfully used. These he described in a paper read before the Institution of Civil Engineers, for which he was awarded a Telford medal and premium.

Between 1869 and 1874 he executed the contracts for the various works in connection with the extension of Middlesbrough Dock and the construction of railways, and also erected the masonry for the construction of the new Dowlais Iron and Steel Works at Cardiff, large extensions of the Consett Ironworks, the erection of salt and other works at Messrs. Bell Brothers' Port Clarence Works, the new ferry works at Middlesbrough, and numerous other extensions of, industrial works.

He was an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1877.



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