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Mariott Ogle Tarbotton

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1871. Bridge over the River Trent, Nottingham.

Mariott Ogle Tarbotton (1832-1887), Borough Engineer to the Nottingham Corporation

1888 Obituary [1]

MARIOTT OGLE TARBOTTON, the son of a merchant of Leeds, was born in that town in December, 1832.

He received his education at Leeds Grammar School, and early manifesting a taste for engineering, was articled to Mr. Charles Clapham, Civil Engineer, of Wakefield. To this gentleman’s practice he ultimately succeeded, and in 1855 he received the appointment of Borough Surveyor at Wakefield. While here, he designed and erected the new and elegant Parish Church of St. Mary’s.

In 1859 he was appointed Borough Engineer to the Nottingham Corporation. In Nottingham, he found a full field for the display of the abilities he possessed. The town was then in a state of transition as regarded sanitary and engineering works; for the Public Health Act had just been put into force, and a strong hand was needed to change the old order, and to inaugurate an entirely new system. There had previously existed a number of local boards, each separate from, often jealous of, and invariably acting independently of each other, while the Road-Surveyor was practically the Chairman of the Highway-Committee.

Mr. Tarbotton’s task was to evolve order from this chaos. He was not long in remodelling the whole system, and in so reorganizing it as to get a thorough control over the work of his department. His subsequent history is the history of the development of Nottingham from an insignificant borough into a prominent and enterprising town. After his labours for the purification of the lower lying parts of the town had been successful, Mr. Tarbotton set about a work of the utmost importance - the designing and erection of a new bridge over the Trent, to replace the quaint old many-arched structure which contributed so much to the flooding of the Meadows.

In 1867 he submitted his plans and estimates for a new bridge, which were adopted by the Town Council.

In 1869 the memorial stone was laid with much rejoicing, and in 1871 the bridge was opened, having cost over £31,000. The new work permits the flood-waters to pass freely through, rendering it a great boon to the dwellers in the Meadows.

In 1876 he spanned the river at Gunthorpe with a smaller bridge, Nottingham is said to have been the first place after London to adopt subways beneath the main streets.

In 1865, Mr. Tarbotton set about the construction of the subways in Victoria and Queen Streets, where the drains and gas- and water-mains are laid. Later on he provided similarly for the sewers and telegraph wires. Further work in the same direction has been carried out by the present Borough Engineer, Mr. Arthur Brown.

The question of dealing with the sewage, not only of Nottingham, but of the whole Leen Valley, was the next to engage Mr. Tarbotton’s attention, and on this subject he laid before the Town Council an elaborate report which led to the passing of the Leen District Sewerage Act, 1872. Under that Act the Leen District Sewerage Board was established. Mr. Tarbotton was engineer to the Board, and laid down the central sewerage system which still drains the Leen Valley. In 1875 Mr. Tarbotton presented a report which embodied a scheme for concentrating between Long Row and Parliament Street, on the site of the present Exchange Hall, or between North Street and Parliament Street, blocks of buildings which should comprise municipal offices, Town-Hall, Museum, and Free Library.

That report was withdrawn, but it led to the subsequent development of the scheme for the erection of the University College in Horse-Fair Close. Before the college was decided on, Mr. Tarbotton reported as to its cost and size, detailed the rooms which it should contain, and made drawings which determined the plans finally adopted.

In 1874 the undertaking of the Nottingham Gas Company was taken over by the Corporation, and he was called on to assume control of the works. These now cover a larger area than any others in the kingdom, having been greatly extended under Mr. Tarbotton's directions. In 1879 the waterworks were also acquired and placed under his management. It was felt that, with the large gas- and meter-undertakings on his hands, Mr. Tarbotton could no longer be expected to carry on the work of Borough Engineer, so Mr. Arthur Brown, M.Inst.C.E., was appointed to the latter post, and Mr. Tarbotton was retained as Consulting Engineer to the Corporation, and engineer to the Gas- and Water-Departments and the Sewage-Farm Committee.

In 1878 the Nottingham Waterworks Company obtained an Act of Parliament to extend their limits of supply and to construct new works at Papplewick. They had agreed with the owners of the Papplewick Estate for land for a reservoir and engine-house and for the right to sink for water. One of the districts (Hucknall Torkard) which they desired to include was struck out of the Bill on the opposition of the local board of Hucknall. As it was necessary to pass through this district, fresh parliamentary powers were sought in 1879. In the same year an agreement was entered into between the company and the corporation of Nottingham for the sale and purchase of the undertaking, and the act authorising the transfer to the corporation was passed. The pipe lines and Papplewick reservoir were completed for the company by Mr. Hawksley, Past-President Inst.C E., their Engineer, who also prepared the specification and plans for the engines, engine-house and well. These were approved by the directors before the date of transfer, and the construction of the works would have been proceeded with, but Mr. Hawksley advised the company to await the issue of the negotiations with the corporation. When the corporation took possession of the undertaking Mr. Tarbotton got out fresh plans and specifications from which the existing engine-house and engines were constructed. The reservoir at the top of Park Row was extended and completely covered in by him, the operations in connection with which change were at the time illustrated and described in The Engineer.

In 1884 he constructed the covered reservoir on Mapperley Hill. Amongst Mr. Tarbotton's latest works of note should be mentioned the Eastcroft pumping-station, for supplying the sewage-farm, which he barely lived long enough to see started.

In 1877 Mr. Tarbotton was called on to give evidence before the Duke of Richmond's Commission as to the conservancy of rivers. In addition to the works which Mr. Tarbotton was called upon to execute for the Corporation of Nottingham, he was frequently engaged as a consulting engineer in various parts of the country, principally in connection with sanitary engineering and waterworks.

In this way he was employed at Eton College, Uppingham School, and Belvoir Castle, at which places he devised and carried out schemes of drainage. Just before his death, he was called upon to adjudicate on the plans for an important undertaking i11 the North of England, and this was the only work he left unfinished. He had completed all the new buildings he had in hand for the Corporation. The Eastcroft Sewage-pumping Station was set in operation the Monday before he died, and the Papplewick Waterworks was completed a week or two earlier.

He attended a meeting of the Sewage Farm Committee on Friday, March 4, 1887, but was scarcely able to speak. At a later hour he was taken home partially paralysed; rallying he endeavoured to transact business on the following day, but he died on the 6th. His colleagues assert that during his long connection with Nottingham he never gave himself adequate rest or recreation, and that his mind was generally occupied with engineering or architecture during the short holidays which he was induced to take. Loss of memory, and symptoms of nervous disorder had occasionally manifested themselves during the past two years. Mr. Tarbotton was elected a Member of the Institution on the 1st of April, 1862. He was also a Fellow of the Geological Society and a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society. In meteorology he took much interest, and for years he has made important detailed observations, of which reports have been published at short intervals. Few engineers have left behind them such artistic memorials, for Mr. Tarbotton took care that all his structures should be fitly and gracefully decorated. He was by nature both artist ad engineer, and felt deeply the sentiment of any work on which he was engaged. He was an accomplished scholar, full of classical lore, and a refined gentleman, kindly and genial in the last degree ; on account of which qualities he is more deeply regretted by his friends than for his manifest and great abilities

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