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William David Nisbet

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William David Nisbet (1837-1897)

1875 Left the partnership of Thomas Meik and William David Nisbet

1898 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM DAVID NISBET was born at Newcastle-on-Tyne on the 2nd November, 1837. At the age of eighteen he was articled to Mr. Thomas Meik,l who was at that time Engineer to the River Wear Commission. He remained with Mr. Meik as an assistant until May, 1865, and during that period gained considerable experience in all matters relating to dock and harbour work.

He was next engaged in carrying out pier, drainage and other works as a contractors’ agent until November, 1868, when, his old master, Mr. Meik, having resigned the post of Engineer to the River Wear Commission, they entered into partnership and began to practise both in Sunderland and Edinburgh, Mr. Meik going to reside in Edinburgh, while Mr. Nisbet remained at Sunderland. During the six years of this connection, Mr. Nisbet was engaged, in conjunction with his partner, in designing and carrying out sea-defences, and gas- and water-works at Bridlington and Filey ; a graving-dock and quay walls at Sunderland ; wet docks at Burntisland and Ayr; the Hylton, Southwick and Monkwearmouth Railway, now incorporated with the North-Eastern Company’s system; and harbour works at Blyth and Warkworth.

In 1875 Mr. Nisbet left the firm to accept the post of Chief Engineer of the Harbours and Rivers Department of the Government of Queensland. During the fifteen years he held that appointment, he designed and carried out many extensive marine works, notably the deepening of the channel of the River Brisbane, by which British India steamers, and other vessels of great draught, were enabled to discharge their cargoes at the city wharves, instead of by the slow and expensive process of lighterage from Moreton Bay, a distance of 22 miles. The powerfully equipped dredgers and other apparatus used in connection with that undertaking were for the most part designed by Mr. Nisbet, and in some instances constructed in the colony under his supervision. He also carried out an extensive graving dock at South Brisbane, and harbour works at Townsville, Mackay and other ports. In 1885 he accompanied Sir John Coode, Past-President, on a tour of inspection of the harbours and ports of Queensland, embracing a coast-line of some 2,000 miles.

Mr. Nisbet resigned his post under the Government of Queensland in 1889, and since then lived in retirement, spending the greater portion of his time in England. The loss of his wife, which he felt acutely, no doubt contributed to the shortening of his life. He died suddenly at his residence, Farquhar Road, Upper Norwood, on the 27th November, 1897, in the sixty-first year of his age. Mr. Nisbet, in performing the duties of the important office he held under the Queensland Government, always displayed the most conscientious and painstaking regard for the public interests, and he obtained the entire confidence of the ministerial heads of the department and of the legislative assembly. He was distinguished by unimpeachable integrity, which, combined with a genial and sympathetic disposition, endeared him greatly to all who learned to know him well. He was elected a Member on the 4th May, 1875.

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