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Alexander Gibb (1804-1867)

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Alexander Gibb (1804-1867)

1830 Alexander Gibb of Aberdeen, Engineer, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]


1868 Obituary [2]

MR. ALEXANDER GIBB, the only son of Mr. John Gibb, C.E., was born at Larbert, in Stirlingshire, on the 21st of September, 1804.

His father having removed to Aberdeen, he received his early education at the Grammar School, and completed it at the Marischal College of that city. Having finished his studies, he entered the office of his father’s friend, Mr. Telford, with whom he enjoyed the advantage of living during the period of his apprenticeship, and a friendship sprung up between him and his distinguished master which lasted till the death of the latter.

On the completion of his apprenticeship Mr. Gibb returned to Aberdeen, and entered into partnership with his father, who was at that time contracting for public works. For some years they were principally engaged in the erection of lighthouses for the Commissioners of Northern Lights, under the direction of Mr. Robert Stevenson. During this period Mr. Gibb personally superintended the erection of the lighthouse on Cape Wrath.

Between the years 1827 and 1829 he was employed with his father in the construction of a large bridge over the River Don, near Aberdeen.

Shortly after they undertook the formation of a wet dock and other works at the Aberdeen Harbour, under the direction of Mr. Telford, about which time he designed the first dredging machine ever used in the harbour of Aberdeen.

When these were finished they were intrusted with the erection of the Dean Bridge, in Edinburgh, and the manner in which this work was executed called forth the warmest praise both from Mr. Telford and from the civil authorities.

In 1835 they completed the Jamaica Street Bridge, in Glasgow, a year before the expiration of the contract, on which occasion they were presented with two handsome pieces of plate.

In 1836, Mr. Gibb and his father undertook the building of the Victoria Bridge over the Wear, on the line of the Durham Junction Railway, under Mr. Harrison (Vice-President Inst. C.E.).

Shortly after the completion of this bridge, remarkable for its height and large spans, they entered into a contract for the construction of a portion of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway at Almond Valley, under Mr. Miller, which was the last work the firm of John Gibb and Son executed as contractors.

In 1842 Mr. Gibb again returned to Aberdeen, and there occupied himself in the practice of his profession as a civil engineer. During the stormy days of railway enterprise he planned and carried out many important lines in the north of Scotland, and, subsequently to his father's death, was Engineer both of the Aberdeen Railway and of the Great North of Scotland Railway. He devoted himself to his business with untiring energy and perseverance, and accomplished an amount of work which few men would have attempted.

The estimate in which his practical sagacity was held by those competent to judge may be gathered from the opinion of Sir William Cubitt, who, in writing in 1844 to the Provisional Committee of the Aberdeen Railway Company, said, 'It is due to Mr. Alexander Gibb, your Engineer, to express the high opinion I entertain of the talent and care displayed by him in the investigation of, and laying down through a very difficult country, the various lines of railway which came under my notice, and that the greatest credit is due to him for producing a line without a tunnel, with gradients in no case steeper than 1 in 100, and with no curves with less than half a mile radius ; and although after my examination of the country I caused two or three alternative lines and deviations in different places to be levelled with a view to improvement, I have been obliged to revert again to the line as laid down by your Engineer, which is the strongest proof I can adduce of the care taken by him in the selection of the lines.'

Mr. Gibb remained Engineer of the Great North of Scotland Railway and its numerous branches up to the time of his death.

In addition to hie business as Engineer, he carried on the quarrying of granite in the vicinity of Aberdeen. His father had been the first to introduce the use of this valuable stone in the construction of public works, and the business was further developed by him. He was the lessee of the well-known Rubislaw Quarries, near Aberdeen ; and when the British Association met in Aberdeen, under the Presidency of the late Prince Consort, Mr. Gibb read a Paper on this subject.

During the last three years of his life he took a lively interest in the large works which his son, Mr. Easton Gibb, constructed, under Mr. James Simpson (Past President Inst. C.E.), for the purpose of supplying Aberdeen with water, and although not himself connected with them, his valuable advice was often had recourse to.

He was frequently a Town Councillor, and once Harbour Master for the city. He was also an elder of the Free Church of Scotland, in which he took a lively interest. But perhaps the recollection of his kindly disposition and manners will do more than anything else to endear his memory. He was held in much respect, and was a most considerate man to all about him, and especially to those under him.

Mr. Gibb was elected a Member of the Institution on the 9th of February, 1830, and died at his residence, Willowbank, Aberdeen, on the 8th of August, 1867, after an illness of a few days, aged sixty-three years.


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