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British Industrial History

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William Powell

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William Powell (1824-1882)


1883 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM POWELL, who died suddenly on 22nd May 1882 at his residence, Carleton, near Pontefract, was born in 1824 at the village of Hoyland near Barnsley, and was educated at a private school at that place.

When little more than a boy he was employed at the rolling mills of the Milton Iron Works. His first step in advance from this position was to the drawing office of the same establishment. There he remained some time, and became one of the most expert draughtsmen of the place.

Subsequently he removed to Rotherham, and was employed on the staff of the late Mr. Charles Bartholomew, engineer to the South Yorkshire Railway; where ample scope, of which he availed himself to the fullest extent, was afforded him for acquiring practical knowledge as a civil engineer. The experience gained in the great rock excavations on this line and in bridge building was of material service to him on his taking the position of engineering assistant to Mr. John Towlerton Leather, contractor, upon the great breakwater works at Portland. In the construction of this important national undertaking, in the excavations of the ditches of the Verne citadel, the construction of military roads, &c., Mr. Powell was engaged about twelve years; and so highly were his services appreciated by Mr., now Sir John Goode, the engineer in chief of the Portland breakwater, that he was offered the appointment of resident engineer on the harbour works then about to be commenced by the Government of the Isle of Man.

From 1867 to 1879 Mr. Powell was employed in the construction of the breakwater at Port Erin, the new landing pier, breakwater, and quays at Douglas, and the harbour works at Ramsey, Peel, and other places in the island. The most important work carried out by him was the construction of the Loch promenade at Douglas, of which he was engineer in chief.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1867.


1883 Obituary [2]

. . . When little more than a boy he was placed under Mr. John Hawthorn, engineer and manager of the Milton Iron Works, near Sheffield, where he is said to have been first employed at one of the rolling-mills, but was afterwards promoted to the drawing-office. Leaving Milton in 1846, he removed to Rotherham, and was employed on the staff of the late Charles Bartholomew, engineer to the South Yorkshire Railway, and in the service of that gentleman ample scope was afforded him of acquiring practical knowledge of the profession, which he availed himself of to the utmost extent.

In 1854 he left Rotherham to occupy a position of great responsibility as engineering assistant to John Towlerton Leather, contractor, upon the great Breakwater works at Portland. . . .

From 1867 to 1879 Mr. Powell was employed in the construction of the breakwater at Port Erin ; the new landing-pier, breakwater, and quays at Douglas; on the harbour works at Ramsay, Peel, and other places in the island, and of the sea promenade at Douglas. The Weymouth Waterworks were constructed under his supervision. . . .


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