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British Industrial History

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William Clegram

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William Clegram (1784-1863)

1832 William Clegram, Resident Engineer of the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1864 Obituary [2]

William Clegram was born at Ryhope, in the county of Durham, on the 20th May, 1784, and commenced his career by going to sea, at the early age of 11 years, in a vessel belonging to his father, hailing from Sunderland.

The snatches of education he was afterwards able to obtain, during his visits to Sunderland, were due to the kindness of Thomas Wilson, who was then superintending the construction of the iron bridge over the river Wear. His arithmetical and mathematical knowledge, and the love for engineering, which clung to him to the close of his life, he acquired from Mr. Wilson.

He continued at sea until the year 1818; but during the leisure of a sea captain’s life, he pursued the study of engineering and kindred subjects, and eventually he adopted engineering as a profession.

He projected and carried out, under the superintendence of the late William Chapman, C.E., the harbour at Shoreham, on the Sussex coast. He was then engaged, under the late Sir Samuel Brown, R.N., in the construction of the chain pier at Brighton, the suspension bridge at Hexham, and other similar works.

He then took charge of the Gloucester and Berkeley Canal, prior to its completion, in 1827, under the late Mr. Telford, and continued to be the resident Engineer of that work till within one year of his death, which occurred on the 20th October, 1863.

For a large portion of his professional life he was, therefore, engaged on that navigation, as the superintendent as well as the engineer, and by arrangement with the Company, nearly the whole of his time was devoted to it alone.

He was intimately acquainted with Mr. Chapman, Mr. Telford, Mr. James Walker, and Mr. (afterwards Sir) W. Cubitt, and he frequently met them from time to time in consultation, arbitration, &C., on a variety of works. He was consulted on many of the harbours of the South Coast, including Portsmouth, Littlehampton, Newhaven, Rye, and Folkestone, on all of which he reported. He was also employed by the Commissioners for the loan of Exchequer Bills to examine and report upon the harbours of Folkestone and Tralee.

He was a good practical astronomer, and he watched with much care the variation of the compass until it reached the limit of its westerly variation. He was devotedly attached to that branch of science, and in the last year of his life, when 79 years old, much of his time was occupied in various astronomical observations, and abstruse mathematical calculations upon them.

Mr. Clegram was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 21st of February, 1832, on the nomination of his friend, Mr. Telford; but his constant residence in Gloucestershire prevented frequent attendance at the Meetings, though he ever took a lively interest in all that concerned the prosperity and well-being of the Society.

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