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Thomas Howard (1816-1896)
1896 Obituary 
THOMAS HOWARD, who died at Weston-super-Mare, on the 17th of January, 1896, was the first Engineer to the Bristol Docks under the corporation of that city, which post he occupied for more than twenty-seven years. At the meeting of the Docks Committee held on the 20th of January the following resolution was passed:- "That this Committee hear with great regret of the death of Mr. Thomas Howard, formerly for many years Engineer to the Docks Estate of the Corporation, and desire to place on record their high appreciation of the valuable services rendered by him in that capacity."
Born on the 5th of November, 1816, Thomas Howard commenced his engineering career as an Assistant to Mr. T. E. Blackwell, who was in private practice as a civil engineer in Bristol. Besides being connected with several railways and canals, Mr. Blackwell acted as consulting engineer to the Bristol Docks. On his resignation of the latter office in 1855, Mr. Howard was appointed Dock Engineer, this being the first appointment of an engineer devoting his time exclusively to the duties of that post. Mr. Howard at once devoted his attention to the improvement of the river and also to plans for its dockisation.
In 1859 he presented an able and comprehensive report on the subject, which was afterwards referred to Sir John Hawkshaw3 and Mr. Thomas Page.4 Nothing came of the scheme however, and proposals were made by private individuals to construct docks at the mouth of the River Avon, with the view of accommodating vessels which could not go up to Bristol. Mr. Howard then directed his attention to plans for the improvement of the river, and an Act was obtained in 1865 for cutting off points and constructing a new entrance lock, enlarging Cumberland Basin and making a new junction lock. These improvements were completed in 1873 at a cost of about £360,000, and as a result larger vessels have been able to reach Bristol.
Mr. Howard also carried out the Bathurst, the Prince’s, and the Harbour Railway deep-water wharves in Bristol, besides various bridges and other works. He likewise devoted great attention to the question of floods in the Avon and Frome. Acts had been obtained by separate companies giving powers to construct docks at Avonmouth and Portishead.
Avonmouth Dock was opened in 1877 and Portishead Dock in 1879. The Bristol Docks were injuriously affected by the competition, and Mr. Howard, who had continued to devote great attention to dockisation, reported again on the subject in 1879. Nothing came of the matter however, and Mr. Howard resigned his appointment in November, 1882. As a result of the agitation, which was carried on for a considerable time, the corporation resolved to purchase Avonmouth and Portishead Docks, the transfer being carried out in September, 1884.
Mr. Howard contributed to the British Association, at the meeting held in Bristol in 1875, a Paper on the River He was recognised as an able engineer and was much respected as an upright man. He took great interest in geology, meteorology, and also in music, being a member of the Bristol Madrigal Society.
Mr. Howard was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 4th of March, 1851, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 24th of April, 1866.
1896 Obituary