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Charles Mattathias Jacobs

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Charles Mattathias Jacobs (1850-1919)

of 126 Bute Docks, Cardiff.

1920 Obituary [1]

CHARLES MATTATHIAS JACOBS was born at Hull on 8th June 1850.

Having been educated by private tuition, he was apprenticed in 1866 to Messrs. C. and W. Earle, marine engineers and shipbuilders, of Hull, and on the completion of his apprenticeship, five years later, he was sent by the firm to China to put up some bridges which they had contracted to build.

On his return to England he decided to follow the profession of a marine engineer, and accordingly went to sea for about three years, obtaining the First Class Certificate of the Board of Trade.

In 1876 he commenced to practise as a consulting engineer in Cardiff, specializing in marine engineering, and shortly afterwards he was appointed surveyor to Lloyd's Register at Cardiff, which office he held for a few years. During this period he became recognized as an expert on the question of the utilization of the slack coal-dust from the non-coking coals of South Wales and Monmouthshire.

In 1887 he removed to London, where he opened a consulting engineers' office in partnership with Mr. Herbert Barringer, Member, under the title of Jacobs and Barringer, and this partnership continued until his death.

Early in 1889 he visited the United States to advise the late Mr. Austin Corbin as to the possible utilization of the culm or waste produced in the jigging of anthracite coal in the fields of the Philadelphia and Reading Coal and Iron Co., and he thus became identified as consulting engineer, with all the engineering problems, of the various interests controlled by Mr. Corbin.

In 1891 Mr. Jacobs opened a consulting engineer's office in New York, his chief assistant being Mr. J. V. Davies, with whom he entered into partnership later. This continued until 1916, when he retired from practice in the United States.

During this period he was engaged upon many important works; in 1892 be undertook for the East River Gas Co., the supervision, as chief engineer, of the construction of a tunnel, 10 feet 2 inches internal diameter, to connect the Company's plant at Ravenswood, Long Island, with the Borough of Manhattan.

In 1895 he was appointed by the bondholders of the Company owning the unfinished and abandoned Hudson River tunnel at New York, as one of a committee of three to examine and report upon the possibility of finishing the work. This was successfully done by Mr. Jacobs as chief engineer. The work was described by him in a Paper read before the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1910, for which he was awarded the Telford Gold Medal.

In 1898 Mr. Jacobs, with his London partner, Mr. Barringer, prepared the plans and specifications and was awarded the contract for the Tredegar Dry Dock at Newport, Mon.

The other great New York project with which the name of Mr. Jacobs will always be linked is that which brings into New York the terminal of the Pennsylvania Railroad; this is fully described in Papers by himself and his coadjutors in the Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, vols. 68 and 69. Both these great undertakings referred to above, involving the crossing of the North River by six different tunnels, were carried out by Mr. Jacobs simultaneously between the years 1901 and 1910.

Many other works of large size and great difficulty have been carried out under his general direction, and some of these may be cited. A pipe-line 270 miles long of 10-inch pipe and 30 miles of 4-inch pipe for the Burmah Oil Co. from Rangoon to Yenangyat; tube tunnels under the River Seine in Paris; the Astoria tunnel below the East River, New York; Hales Bar lock and dam across the Tennessee River near Chattanooga; the Laxaxalpan aqueduct tunnels of the Mexican Light and Power Co.; and many various schemes in the United States, Canada, Russia, India, etc. Latterly he resided at Wimbledon, but his death took place at his country house at Laugharne, Carmarthenshire, on 7th September 1919, at the age of sixty-nine.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1876.

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