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Parke Neville

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Parke Neville (1812-1886), City Engineer to the Corporation of Dublin

1887 Obituary [1]

PARKE NEVILLE was born in Dublin, in the year 1812, and was the eldest surviving son of the late Mr. Arthur Neville, who was surveyor to the Corporation of Dublin, and Engineer and Designer of the Grand Canal, Dublin, one of the most celebrated works of its day. Mr. Neville’s ancestors for three generations before him were all connected with the engineering and surveying profession in Ireland.

In early life Mr. Neville was an articled pupil of the late Mr. Charles Vignoles, Past-President Inst. C.E., and whilst with him, and afterwards, was engaged on many important railway works in Ireland, amongst which were the Dublin and Kingstown, the Great Southern and Western, and the Midland Great Western Railways, and for a short time he was engaged on works in England.

After leaving Mr. Vignoles, he served a pupilage with the late Mr. William Farrell, then Architect to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for Ireland. Whilst in private practice, Mr. Neville made good use of his tutelage under two men, then so eminent in their professions, and thereafter combined the professions of engineer and architect, and as such carried out many public works in connection with the building of prisons, asylums, and churches, and was also engineer and architect to some of the first families in Ireland.

In April 1851, he competed successfully for the office of City Engineer to the Corporation of Dublin, and with an energy characteristic of him, immediately set about many alterations and improvements which were sadly needed. When he entered office he found the streets in a deplorable and neglected condition, many of them being practically impassable for vehicular traffic; he recommended the paving of all the principal streets with square-sett paving, and re-forming outlying macadamized streets, and bringing them up to a proper cross section.

So early as the year 1853, he prepared a plan for the main drainage of the city, with all the necessary intercepting sewers, and proposed that all the sewage on the north side of the city should be discharged at the east wall near Clontarf Island, and that of the south side near Ringsend. Up to this time all the sewers in Dublin had been built with perpendicular side-walls, sometimes arched over, but in many instances covered with flags ; all had flat bottoms, sometimes paved with common boulder-stone, but more frequently the bottom consisted merely of the gravel or clay stratum on which the sewer was built. Year by year, according as the funds of the Corporation permitted, he re-built and re-modelled the sewers on the most improved principle, and finally, under loan from Government in the year 1880, practically completed the sewerage of the city, leaving nothing to be desired but the carrying out of the great aim and ambition of the latter years of his life, the main drainage of the city. For this he, in conjunction with Sir Joseph Bazelgette, Past-President Inst.C.E., prepared, in the years 1869, 1870, elaborate plans, and an Act of Parliament was obtained in the year 1871. The design was to construct a high- and low-level system of sewers, north and south of the River Liffey, very much on the lines proposed by Mr. Neville in 1853. These sewers were to communicate with a large pumping-station which was proposed to be built at Annesley Bridge, from which all the sewage was to flow by gravitation to the great waste of sand at Dollymount, known as the North Bull, where outfall tanks were to be built, SO as to regulate the discharge of the sewage according to the state of the tide. The scheme was designed to provide for the discharge of the sewage, not alone of the city of Dublin, but also of the Pembroke, Rathmines, Eilmainham and Clontarf townships. Tenders were obtained for these works, the lowest being £775,000 ; but the Corporation, on further deliberation, did not consider they were justified in spending such a large sum of money and increasing the already heavy taxation. Accordingly assistance was sought from the Government, which not being granted the Act was allowed to lapse. But the Royal Commission which sat in Dublin in 1879, of which Sir Robert Rawlinson, C.B., M.Inst.C.E., was chairman, recommended the carrying out of the system of main drainage for the city and townships on the plan proposed by Mr. Neville.

Mr. Neville’s most successful work was the Dublin Corporation Waterworks, carried out in, conjunction with the late Sir John Gray. The Bill for this undertaking met with the most determined opposition. Pamphlet after pamphlet was written to prove that the Vartry could not yield the supply of water required, that the system proposed was extravagant, and the cost exorbitant, &c. He had the satisfaction of living down all these objections, and seeing the works carried to their present state of perfection. Previous to the construction of the Vartry Works, Dublin was supplied with water from the two canals which surround the city, the Grand Canal on one side augmented by water taken from the River Dodder, and the Royal Canal on the other. Many parts of the city were situated at levels equal to or higher than that of the canals, so much so that no pipes were laid in them, and for the rest the supply was intermittent. The Vartry Works now supply, with a constant service, not only the city of Dublin, but also the Bray, Killiney and Ballybrack, Dalkey, Kingstown, Blackrock, Pembroke, Kilmainham, Drumcondra, Glasnevin and Clonliffe, and Clontarf townships, as also districts which are not included in any township, and which embrace Dundrum, Rathfarnham, Roebuck, Terenure, &c., the entire covering an area of about 12 miles long by 5 miles wide at its broadest point. The Vartry rises in the Sugar Loaf Mountain, County Wicklow, and has a drainage area of 14,080 acres for the purposes of the impounding reservoir, which has a capacity of 2,400 million gallons, the top water being 692.45 above Ordnance Datum. The water flows from this reservoir into a system of eleven filter-beds, after which it passes into two pure water tanks ; thence it is conducted by a 48-inch pipe into a tunnel 24 miles long, from which it flows over a measuring-weir into a circular basin, and thence by a 33-inch main, with relieving-tanks, to the distributing-reservoirs at Stillorgan. A third reservoir has lately been added, thereby increasing the storage at the distributing end, so as to provide for probable emergencies in cases of accident to the main pipe-line. From this point the water is conveyed to the city by a double line of 27-inch mains. These works were completed at a cost of £650,000. All Mr. Neville’s energies were exerted to insure success, and the contract-drawings of many of the most important and intricate portions were made by Mr. Neville himself, such was his anxiety for their perfection. The revenue for contract-water in the city has risen from about £1,600, which was the total in 1861, to £27,135 in 1885. Year by year the revenue from this source has steadily increased, as also from the townships and extra municipal districts, so that the Corporation in 1885 were enabled to reduce the taxation for water from 1s.3d. in the £ to 1s. 0.5d. Of this enterprise Mr. Neville contributed a description to the Institution in 1874.’ Mr. Neville also designed and built an efficient little waterworks at the fifth lock of the Grand Canal, for the supply of the breweries and distilleries of Dublin, in order to give them the same quantity of water (but at a higher level) which they were using before the introduction of the Vartry.

He also designed and carried out a fine cattle market, the divisions of which are all of iron, capable of accommodating five thousand head of cattle, and thirteen thousand eight hundred and fifty sheep, and occupying an area of 10 acres. The sheep-pens are concreted, and the cattle-pens, roads, and alleys, are paved with square sett paving grouted with tar. The entire cost of these works has been £36,000. The market communicates by a sub-way under the adjoining road, with an abattoir, also designed by Mr. Neville, the cost of which has been £15,000. It stands on a plot of ground, containing 9.5 acres. Within the last few years, Mr. Neville carried out large paving works in the city on the most improved system, the work having been done under a loan of £100,000 from Government, and at the time of his death, he was engaged in similar paving work under a second loan of £100,000.

Amongst many other street improvements, Mr. Neville had the satisfaction before he died, of opening up and building a new street at a cost of £70,000, connecting Dame Street with Christ Church Place, having an easy gradient of 1 in 43 as against an old tortuous route through Cork Hill, which in places was as steep as 1 in 12. The making of this street was in abeyance for over forty years, until at length, by dint of continually bringing it before the public, the matter was finally carried.

Mr. Neville was elected a Member of the Institution on the 6th of December, 1865. He was also a Past-President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in Ireland, a Vice-President of the Institute of Architects, and was likewise a member of many Literary and Scientific Societies in Dublin. He was a man of sterling character, upright and straight forward in his dealings with his fellow-men, and most conscientious in the performance of his public duties, which were discharged by him with unswerving fidelity. He was slow in forming an opinion ; but when once formed he maintained it with energy and determination. During his holidays in the autumn of 1886, Mr. Neville visited several towns in England for the purpose of examining and inquiring into the systems of public baths and wash-houses, so as to utilize the information thus gained for Dublin. He also attended the Meetings of the British Association, and returned to Dublin early in October, with the evident traces of illness in his face.

He died at his residence in Pembroke Road, Dublin, on the 30th of October, 1886, after being absent from his official duties for only two days.

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