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William Duff Bruce

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William Duff Bruce (1839-1900)


1900 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM DUFF BRUCE, son of Mr. George Williamson Bruce, was born on 10th April 1839, at Brooklawn, near Mowhill, County Leitrim, Ireland.

At the ago of nine he was sent to St. Andrews, and remained there until he was sixteen years of age, when he returned to Ireland, and studied engineering with Messrs. Thomas Grendon and Co., of Drogheda, a firm largely engaged at that time in the construction of locomotive engines, marine engines, and general millwright work. Having spent four years in the shops, he subsequently followed up his studies at St. Andrews with a course of engineering with a view to competing for the Indian Public Works Service.

He took second place at the public competition, and was thereupon appointed to the Public Works Department in India. On arrival in that country in December 1860, he with sent to Roorkee College in order to study engineering further, and to acquire a knowledge of the language. Six months later he was appointed assistant engineer in the Cawnpore Division of Public Works, and was placed in cargo of the Futtegarh Sub-Division whore he built the memorial church, erected in memory of the residents who had been killed during the Mutiny.

From there he was transferred to Oude, on receiving the appointment of assistant to the chief engineer and secretary to the Chief Commissioner in the Public Works Department in Lucknow. He retained that appointment for two years, and was then promoted to the position of executive engineer and appointed to the Lucknow Division of Public Works, where roads and barracks in the new military cantonment were carried out under his direction. He also designed and built the bridge across the Goomtee, three spans of 80 feet each, in brickwork.

In 1867 be was again transferred from the Lucknow Division to Calcutta, where he was appointed executive officer in charge of the second Calcutta Division, in which was included all the new public buildings then being constructed, namely, the telegraph office, the new High Court, and the Indian Museum.

After spending three years in this position, he was promoted to the Hooghly River Division, which included the charge of the new wharves and jetties, and the carrying out of improvements for facilitating the landing and shipping of goods at Calcutta.

In 1870 the whole of these works were placed under the Port Trustees, a hole formed on the same lines us the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board. and styled the Commissioners for making Improvements in the Port of Calcutta. Of this body he was appointed vice-chairman and chief engineer. In that capacity he designed and carried out all the works for the improvement of the Port.

In 1873 the works in the Hooghly between Calcutta and the sea were transferred by Government to the charge of the Calcutta Port Commissioner, and in his official capacity as engineer and chief executive officer, he had then charge of the lighthouses, lightships, and the survey of the river, and of all works which were carried out from that time till his retirement in 1889.

In 1882 the question of providing docks at Calcutta was brought forward, and after much investigation sanction was given to a scheme prepared by him. The docks were commenced in 1884. A full description of these works was given by Mr. Bruce in a Paper read at the Institution of Civil Engineers. The cost of constructing the docks and works connected therewith was about £2,250,000. He continued in charge of the Works in India until 1887, when he returned to London in the capacity of consulting engineer to the Port Commissioners.

In 1889 he retired from the service, but retained his appointment of consulting engineer to the Port Commissioners. The records of the Commissioners' Proceedings show how highly his services were appreciated, and with what success he had so long filled the responsible position of Chief Executive Officer of the Port.

In 1887 he commenced business at Westminster as a consulting engineer. He was appointed consulting engineer to the Delhi Umballa Hulks Railway, and in 1890 to the Assam-Bengal Railway Company, concessions for both of which he obtained from the Secretary of State. He was also connected with the establishment of ironworks in India, which, after many years of difficulties, are now being profitably carried on, his untiring zeal very largely contributing to the success which has been attained in this direction. For some years he had been a director of the Rio Tinto Company, and at the time of his death filled the position of deputy chairman. His firm also acted as consulting engineers to the company. Many important changes were carried out at his suggestion, and his technical skill has been of great service to the company.

His death took place in London on 24th April 1900, at the age of sixty-one.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1867, and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.


1900 Obituary [2]



1900 Obituary [3]

WILLIAM DUFF BRUCE died suddenly at his residence in London on. April 28, 1900. He for many years took a large share in the development of Indian railways, of several of which he was for a number of years London representative. He also represented the Bengal Iron and Steel Company, the owners of the Barrakur Ironworks, India. He was well known and highly esteemed in the engineering profession. He was deputy-chairman of the Rio Tinto Company, Limited.

He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1890.


1900 Obituary [4]



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