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Colin Scott-Moncrieff

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Sir Colin Campbell Scott-Moncrieff (1836-1916), engineer who worked in India and Egypt and later became Under-Secretary for Scotland

1836 August 3rd. Born the son of Robert Scott-Moncrieff

After training at the East India Company's establishment in Addiscombe, he was commissioned into the Bengal Engineers, part of the Company's private army which was soon integrated into the British army.

1858 Captain Colin Scott Moncrieff, of the Edinburgh Military Artillery, designed a "disappearing gun" that overcame many of the shortcomings inherent in existing methods of mounting artillery guns. He proposed the concept to the British Government. The use of this concept would help protect the crew manning the gun and the gun itself. Although accepted by a Royal Commission in 1859 it was not tried out at any scale until 1871.[1]

1858 Arrived in India; he was involved in clearing-up operations after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, but was soon employed in the Indian irrigation system, becoming Chief Engineer of the Jumna Canal.

1865 The carriage was formally submitted to the Ordnance Select Committee but was rejected by them.[2]

1866 The carriage was resubmitted but was rejected by the War Office. Nevertheless the War Office lent a gun to the inventor to experiment with, and later appointed Colonel Wray to witness some experiments with it which seem to have been successful. Even so, the invention was again rejected.

1867 Permission was given to try the carriage system, at Government expense, with a 7-inch gun and it was finally accepted.

1869-77 Superintending Engineer of the Ganges Canal

1877-83 Chief Engineer of Burma.

1883 Retired with the rank of Colonel; on his way home he was summoned to Cairo to meet Lord Dufferin who offered him "the keys of the Nile" - the position of Director of Irrigation for Egypt, then still nominally part of the Ottoman Empire, but in practice controlled by the British.

His first priority was the Nile Barrage, designed to retain water to irrigate the Delta, which had been built at great expense between 1843 and 1862 but soon abandoned when cracks appeared in its structure. Scott Moncrieff arranged for a trial closing of the gates allowing a limited operation, while carefully monitoring the cracks. The results were so successful in terms of improved agricultural yield that he was able to ask for, and get, a million pounds for a complete repair and strengthening of the Barrage, which was carried out between 1885 and 90.

Over a period of nine years he reorganised the whole irrigation system and "was so successful in improving the whole irrigation system that Egypt, from being a bankrupt country, became comparatively flourishing". For his work in Egypt he was appointed KCMG.

1892 Returned to England; served as Under-Secretary for Scotland from 1892 to 1902.

1901-03 At the invitation of Lord Curzon, the Viceroy, Scott-Moncrieff served as President of a Commission to investigate and report on the prospects for further developing the Indian irrigation system. For this work he was appointed KCSI.

1916 April 9th. Died.

1915 Indian Biographical Dictionary

Scott-Moncrieff, Sir Colin Campbell, K.C.S.I. (1903); K.C.M.G. (1887), C.S.I. (1878), LL.D. (Edinburgh); b. Scotland, 1836; s. of late Robert Scott-Moncrieff, Fossaway; educ: Edinburgh Academy, H.E.I.C. Military College, Addiscombe; entered Bengal Engineers, 1856; retired with rank of Colonel, 1883; engaged in Suppression of Indian Mutiny in Oudh Campaign 1858-59; Chief Engineer, Burma; Under Secretary of State, Public Works, Cairo, 1883-92; Under Secretary for Scotland, 1892-1902; President of Indian Irrigation Commission, 1901-03. Publication: Irrigation in Southern Europe. Address: 11, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. Club: Athenaeum.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Moncrieff Forts
  2. The Engineer 1869/02/26