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John Cooper (1843-1901)

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John Cooper (1843-1901), Burgh Engineer of Edinburgh

1902 Obituary [1]

JOHN COOPER, was born in Culross on the north shore of the Firth of Forth, on the 27th October, 1843, and after receiving his scholastic education at the Burgh School and at Dollar Academy, he served an apprenticeship as a joiner in Dollar.

Like a large number of the youth of country towns, he sought fortune elsewhere, and, after remaining for a considerable time in Glasgow, obtained employment with one of the largest building firms in Edinburgh.

In 1872 an assistant being required in the Burgh Engineer’s office, Mr. Cooper applied and was selected to fill the appointment. During the next few years he attended engineering and other classes at the Heriot-Watt College, to qualify himself for the duties of a municipal engineer.

In 1880 he became principal assistant to the late Mr. Fraser, then Burgh Engineer, and on the death of that gentleman in the following year, Mr. Cooper was appointed Burgh Engineer, which office he held with much acceptance to the town council and public generally until his death.

Shortly after Mr. Cooper’s appointment as Burgh Engineer, there commenced a period of great municipal activity in Edinburgh, as evidenced by large drainage schemes, street improvements, house sanitation, and schemes for the housing of the working classes. Among the largest of the drainage works carried out under Mr. Cooper’s directions were the covering in of Broughton Burn, the construction of Powburn outlet sewer from Edinburgh to the sea, West Merchiston drainage, Queen’s Park outlet sewer, the Water of Leith sewerage, and Morningside drainage. He took an active part in the acquisition of the properties necessary for street widening, and in the slum schemes and improvement areas dealt with by the Corporation, not only in obtaining the condemnation of the old properties, but in the rehousing schemes which necessarily followed.

When the conversion of the horse tramways into cable traction was finally decided, Mr. Cooper was appointed Joint Engineer with Mr. W. N. Colam to carry out the work, and had he lived a little longer he would have witnessed the completion of the undertaking. Mr. Cooper was a man of great energy and very considerable mental ability, both of which he devoted solely to the public service, and his great ambition was to work up his staff to the highest point of efficiency.

Towards the end of 1900 he contracted a cold, and was laid aside for about a fortnight, but, feeling better, he returned to his duties, which he continued to perform until the 21st February following, when he was obliged to give in, and after an illness of nearly six months he died on the 9th July, 1901.

He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 1st December, 1885.

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