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Robert Carr

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Robert Carr (1827-1897)

M.I.C.E., Chief Engineer, London and India Docks Joint Committee,

Died aged 69.

1897 Obituary [1]

ROBERT CARR was born on 29th November 1827 at South Shields.

After haying served an apprenticeship there of seven years, from 1841 to 1848, to Mr. T. D. Marshall, mechanical engineer, he entered the employment of Sir W. G. Armstrong and Co., and was associated with the earliest work and development of hydraulic rower by that firm, for whom he had charge of the erection of hydraulic machinery for the London and North Western Railway at Hayden Square depot, Mineries, London; for the Great Northern Railway at King's Cross; and for the St. Katharine Dock, London.

He also assisted at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in the management of the supply of steam and hydraulic power, which the same firm had undertaken to provide.

In 1856 he was appointed resident engineer to the St. Katharine Dock, where he had the responsible superintendence of all works, buildings, and machinery.

On the amalgamation in 1865 of the London, St. Katharine, and Victoria Docks, the engineering of the last was added to his charge; and many important works, such as new jetties, buildings, and the remodelling of the swing bridge, were carried out under his direction.

In 1869 the care of the London Dock was placed with him, and he became engineer to all the property of the London and St. Katharine Docks Co.

In 1872 he was occupied in conjunction with Sir Alexander M. Rendel, at that time consulting engineer to the company, upon the preparation of plans and estimates for an extensive enlargement of the Victoria Dock, together with a new and deeper entrance into the Thames at Galleons Reach.

On its completion in 1880 the care of this extension, now known as the Royal Albert Dock, also devolved on him. New tobacco warehouses and extensive granaries at the Victoria Dock were erected in 1883 under his superintendence; and in 1884 powerful pumping machinery was completed at Galleons, capable of delivering 125,000 gallons per minute, whereby the water in the Royal Albert Dock is maintained at high-water mark, or above it when required.

In 1880 one of the earliest installations of refrigerating machinery was put op at Victoria Dock. The demand for cold storage of meat from abroad increased so rapidly that he had to enlarge the accommodation, and by 1892 the storage capacity had risen to 564,000 cubic feet, capable of holding 161,000 carcasses.

He also prepared plans in 1881 for enlarging the Royal Albert Dock and its entrance, and for the construction of a river wharf; and the work was completed in 1886 without the aid of an outside contractor.

In 1888, on the formation of the London and India Docks Joint Committee, he was appointed their first chief engineer; and in 1892 he prepared plans for a new entrance and enlargement of the basin at the West India Docks, Blackwall.

In October of the same year he went to Liverpool to inspect some new pumping machinery; and on the return journey he sustained a slight stroke of paralysis, the result of overwork and mental strain. Although he was fortunately able to throw off the effects, his retirement was deemed advisable in order to avoid risk of a further illness.

He was then appointed consulting engineer, in view especially of the completion of the Blackwall entrance, for the design of which he had been entirely responsible. This work was finished in September 1894, and shortly afterwards he retired on a pension.

After a serious illness in December 1896, his death took place at Bournemouth on 6th April 1897, at the age of sixty-nine.

He took a great interest in civic, local, and political matters; having been one of the first to be enrolled a volunteer, he retired in 1885 as honorary major.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1877; and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

1897 Obituary [2]

1897 Obituary[3]

"A FAMILIAR figure at the meetings of the Institution of Civil Engineers was that of Major Robert Carr, the engineer of the London Docks, and now that death has claimed him he will be missed. He has, however, left his imprint on the Thames, for since 1854 he has been constructing and improving docks along the river banks. He served his apprenticeship of seven years between 1843 and 1850 with Mr. T. D. Marshall, of South Shields a mechanical engineer, and for the four next years was employed by Sir W. G. Armstrong and Co., and on behalf of that firm had charge of the erection of hydraulic machinery for the London and North Western Railway, the Great Northern Railway, and for the St. Katharine's Dock in London. Ultimately he transferred his services from the Elswick firm to the dock company, with whom he remained for the 11 years subsequent to 1854. He had the responsible superintendence of all the Works, buildings, and machinery at the St. Katherine's Docks, and in 1865, on the amalgamation of the London Dock Companies, the Victoria Docks was added to his department, and there he carried out extensive works, constructing new jetties and buildings, remodelling swing bridges, &c. In 1869 he became engineer for the London Docks, and up till a few years ago was responsible for the large docks of the company, his position being subsequently filled by Mr. H. F. Donaldson. He had almost enjoyed the full allotted span of life, although lately he has not been in very robust health; he went to Bournemouth for change, and there died on the 6th inst. Major Carr had been a member of the Institution since 1875. He took an active interest in the affairs of the East End, being a member of the Limehouse District Board, a well-known Churchman, and an active politician in the Conservative interest. He was an early and consistent supporter of the Volunteer movement."

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