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British Industrial History

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William Radford

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William Radford (1816-1854)

Agent for Hugh McIntosh[1]

1855 Obituary [2]

Mr. WILLLIAM RADFORD, born at Pater, near Pembroke, on the 23rd of December 1816, was the second son of Mr. William Radford, one of the agents for the late Mr. Hugh McIntosh, Contractor, upon whose extensive undertakings, at the Royal William Victualling Yard, at Plymouth and elsewhere, he received from his Father the rudiments of his professional education, which was subsequently completed under the late Mr. William Anderson, C. E.

He was then engaged, in 1834, upon the repairs of Blackfriars bridge, under the direction of Messrs. Walker and Burges, C. E.; then in the formation of the Hanwell embankment, on the Great Western Railway, under Mr. Brunel (V. P.), the construction of the Grand Junction Waterworks at Kew and Brentford, and upon several other works on the banks of the Thames.

During the prevalence of the railway mania, in 1845-46, he was actively employed in the surveys and the Parliamentary proceedings of several important lines, holding at the same time, since the year 1841-42, the post of Engineer to the Regent’s Canal, in which he had succeeded Mr. William Anderson, and where he executed some extensive improvements, in extending the Docks, and the Reservoirs, constructing new Lockgates, erecting improved Coal-hoists, and introducing great facilities for carrying on the traffic of the canal.

About the year 1852, his services were partially engaged by Mr. Rendel, then President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, by whom he was employed upon the designs for the Birkenhead Docks, -the improvements of the Town of Great Grimsby, -the extension of the Nene Navigation and Drainage, -the Waterworks at Leeds, -the New Docks and Warehouses at Genoa, and on other works of importance, in the execution of which he displayed advantageously the intelligence, energy, and practical skill which pre-eminently distinguished his character, and which, had his life been spared, would have conducted him to a high rank in the profession.

His career was, however, abruptly brought to an untimely close by a singular event. Whilst riding in a Hansom cab, he received in the eye some foam from the mouth of the horse, then suffering from the glanders; inflammation ensued, which subsided in a few days, but the virus had entered into his system, and in about two months he sickened and sunk under that terrible and peculiar disease, on the 11th of May, 1854, in his thirty-eighth year; leaving a widow, the daughter of Captain Major, to lament his too early decease.

He only joined the Institution of Civil Engineers, as a Member, in the year 1849, but he was very constant in his attendance at the Meetings, frequently took part in the discussions, displayed great anxiety for the progress of the Society, and contributed liberally to the extension of the Library and the publication of the Minutes of Proceedings.

His character was marked by great energy of purpose, and rapid perception: his professional acquirements were of a high order, and his death is deeply regretted by a numerous circle of friends, who had formed a high estimate of his talents, and entertained well-founded hopes of his ultimately taking a prominent position in the profession.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and ..., Volume 1, edited by A. W. Skempton
  2. 1855 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries