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Daniel Mackain

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Daniel Mackain (1800-1859)

1860 Obituary [1]

MR. DANIEL MACKAIN was born at Fortrose, Ross-shire, in the year 1800 ; and, in consequence of his Father having been an Officer of Militia, he, in early life, joined that service.

The inactivity of such an occupation led his energetic mind in search of more active pursuits, and, while still a very young man, he devoted himself to the study of Civil Engineering.

After filling, for some time, important professional situations in Leith, he was, about the year 1828-29, appointed Engineer and Manager of the Cranston Hill Water Company at Glasgow. Under his able and energetic supervision, the affairs of the company, then at a very low ebb, greatly improved ; and on its amalgamation, about twenty years ago, with the Glasgow Water Company, by Act of Parliament, he was appointed sole Engineer.

During this period, the arduous and difficult duty of supplying that great and rapidly-increasing city with water, devolved upon him. Considering that the whole supply had to be forced by engine power from a low level, and that the city had greatly exceeded in population, and in the extent of its commerce and manufactures, what was ever contemplated, at the organisation of the works ; and recollecting the many imperfections in the old system which modern science had revealed, and of which no one was more thoroughly aware than Mr. Mackain, it must be admitted, that the success of his efforts to supply upwards of 16,000,000 gallons of water per day, required an amount of energy, foresight, and engineering talent of no ordinary kind.

Unobtrusive and quiet, yet self-possessed, he passed through several Parliamentary campaigns, with singular merit and success. In every case in which the water company was either a promoter, or an opponent, Mr. Mackain was the chief engineering witness before the Committees of the House of Commons ; and after the fight was over, Counsel on both sides joined in complimenting him, for his calmness, his intelligence, and his integrity.

Perhaps the most trying occasion on which he ever appeared, was on his examination as the principal witness in that which was termed ‘The Great Arbitration Cause,’ when the value of the waterworks was decided, at the time of the plant and undertaking lapsing, under this valuation, into the hands of the city. His conduct and evidence were admitted to be just, honourable, and impartial by both parties in the cause, by the friends he was about to leave, on the one hand, and by the Loch Katrine Water Commissioners whom he was about to serve, on the other; and the Lord Advocate, (now the Lord Justice Clerk,) who was final umpire in the arbitration, awarded him the highest praise.

When the old company meditated the introduction of water by gravitation, Mr. Mackain explored every glen and rill, and tested the capacity of every loch in the West Highlands, and the result of his observations was the Loch Lubnaig scheme. This was not carried out, on account of the difficulty of raising the capital, but there is little doubt, that it would have answered the purpose intended ; and it must be looked upon with respect, as the parent of the great Loch Katrine operations now rapidly drawing to a close.

About two years ago, Mr. Mackain was invited to proceed to Portugal, which he did with the concurrence of his Directors, to assist in bringing water to the city of Oporto, and the scheme which he recommended is now being carried out.

One of his most prominent characteristics was a conscientious devotion to the interests of his employers and the public, sparing neither bodily fatigue, nor mental exertion, in the fulfilment of his duties. Naturally of a modest and retiring disposition, he was not much known beyond the circle of those with whom his situation brought him in contact; but he had a few friends who knew his genuine worth, admired his talents, his kind and truly unselfish nature, and who will ever revere his memory.

He joined the Institution, as a Member, in 1840, and his death took place at Dalmarnock, on the 8th of February, 1859.

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