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William Whitaker Collins

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William Whitaker Collins (1817-1879)

Civil Engineer of Buckingham Street, London and later of Drayton Villas, South Kensington, London.

Died 15th March 1879, aged 62. [1]


1879 Obituary [2]

MR. WILLIAM WHITAKER COLLINS, son of the late Mr. William Young Collins, who for many years held the appointment of accountant at Messrs. Maudslay’s, in Lambeth, was born in London on the 11th of February, 1817.

After completing his education he served a regular apprenticeship to the firm of Messrs. Maudslay and Field, and was employed for some time in the drawing office.

His next engagement was under Sir Marc Isambard Brunel, M. Inst. C.E., at the works of the Thames tunnel, where he was associated with the late Mr. Thomas Page, M. Inst. C.E. From thence he went to the factory of Messrs. Rennie, where he remained for three years, designing machinery and prosecuting other engineering work.

His next appointment was that of resident engineer to the Societe d’Ougrke, in Belgium, afterwards becoming consulting engineer to the works of Messrs. Cockerill and Co., of Seraing. Here he remained for several years, after which he returned to England, and was employed on the construction of the London docks under Mr. Smeaton.

In the year 1847, that is to say at the age of thirty, Mr. Collins commenced to practice on his own account as a civil engineer.

About ten years later he entered into partnership with Mr. T. R. Crampton, M. Inst. C.E. ; and it was during this partnership that he, in conjunction with Mr. Crampton, designed and carried out the extensive waterworks for the city of Berlin, as well as several other enterprises of an important character. The partnership lasted about eight years, and at its termination Mr. Collins resumed practice by himself, retaining the same offices, in Buckingham Street, Adelphi, until he retired a few years before his death.

Mr. Collins was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in the year 1846, during the presidency of his old master, Sir John Rennie, and became a full Member of the Institution in the year 1860, when Mr. Bidder was President, his certificate bearing the following well-known names : Joshua Field, Joseph Cubitt, John Fowler, Hamilton H. Fulton, Thomas Page, T. Macdougall Smith, John Rennie, Charles Hutton Gregory, James Simpson, Henry Maudslay, Charles Fox, S. C. Homersham, and T. R. Crampton.

Mr. Collins was well known to most of the leading members of the profession, and had a large circle of private friends. He was for many years a regular attendant at the meetings ; and as he had the misfortune in comparatively early life to lose his leg, through an accident which was considered but trifling at the time, necessitating ever after the use of crutches, his form and face were conspicuously familiar to those who, like himself, attended the evening discussions. Having been during the whole of his life a great reader, and possessing a good library, and an exceptionally brilliant memory, he had at his disposal an inexhaustible store of professional information, which he was always ready to impart to others ; and the uniform kindness and geniality which the younger members of the profession invariably received from him will make his name long remembered with gratitude and with pleasure. The freedom, however, with which he communicated information upon general and professional subjects bore a striking contrast to his great reticence with respect to personal matters connected with himself, about which his most intimate friends knew but little more than strangers.

Mr. William Whitaker Collins, besides being a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, was a Fellow or Member of the following scientific bodies : the Geological, Royal Microscopical, Meteorological, and Zoological Societies, as well as of the Royal Institution and the British Association.

He died at Brompton, somewhat suddenly, from bronchitis, on the 15th of March, 1879, at the age of sixty-two, and was interred at the West London cemetery on the 22nd of the same month.


1879 Obituary [3]



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