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William Santo Crimp

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William Santo Crimp (1853-1901)

Civil Engineer and Fellow of the Royal Society.

1901 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM SANTO CRIMP, born at Ringmore, South Devon, on the 18th June, 1853, was educated at home, being considered too delicate to go to a public school.

He evidently had a natural bent for engineering - when only a youth - he designed a small scheme of water-supply for the village of Modbury, adjoining the parish in which he lived; and this scheme was subsequently successfully carried out, and is still in operation.

On the completion of his education he first served an apprenticeship with a firm of Agricultural Engineers at Modbury, and subsequently came to London as a pupil for two years of the late Mr. Charles Hyde.

At the end of 1875 he became an assistant to Mr. Baldwin Latham, under whom he was engaged for a considerable period in making hydro-geological surveys in Surrey.

During 1877 he went to Melton Mowbray, and took charge, as Resident Engineer, of the sewerage works for that town, designed and carried out by Mr. Baldwin Latham. In the following year he was engaged in making further hydro-geological surveys, chiefly in connection with the opposition to the Metropolis Water Bill, proposed by the Metropolitan Board of Works. About that time he was also employed on various surveys in connection with works of water supply and sewage in different parts of the country. In the same year he became Resident Engineer under Mr. Latham on the Wandle Valley sewerage scheme for the Croydon Rural Sanitary Authority. This scheme included an important outfall works at Merton, with large pumping station, described by Mr. Crimp in a Paper presented to the Institution in 1884.

Towards the end of 1881, on these works nearing completion, Mr. Crimp was appointed Engineer and Surveyor to the Wimbledon Local Board. At that time there were complaints of serious defects in the main drainage of that district, and great nuisance was caused by the sewage farm. So bad in fact was the state of the farm that an action was brought to restrain the Wimbledon Authority from continuing to treat sewage on a considerable area of the farm; and but for the steps taken by Mr. Crimp the plaintiffs in this action would doubtless have obtained the injunction they were seeking. The Wimbledon Sewage Farm, as first laid out, gave Mr. Crimp a great deal of anxiety, and it was only after he had altered the whole method of working which had obtained up to that time that he was able to get an effluent sufficiently pure to admit its being turned into the River Wandle. The farm consisted entirely of heavy clay land, and the whole of the surface had been drained by means of field drains laid close to the surface, so that the sewage when admitted for irrigation immediately found its way into the subsoil drains, and passed out at a point of discharge in almost as bad a state as when first admitted. Mr. Crimp prevented this by placing a bed of puddle over each drain at such a depth as to be below any liability of disturbance from cultivation. He then had the siftings from the house refuse and road drift dug in, so as to prevent the clay from cracking in dry weather. These methods proved most successful, and are still being used; and, it may be stated that, during the last eighteen years, there has been a uniformly high class effluent from this farm.

The whole time he was at Wimbledon Mr. Crimp may be said to have been continuously experimenting on a practical scale with the treatment of sewage; and he doubtless acquired there that thorough grasp of this difficult subject which was of such assistance to him in after years. He also made many valuable experiments on the treatment of sludge and its disposal; and on the movement of air in sewers. The results of many of these experiments were communicated by him to the Institution. During his connection with the Wimbledon Local Board he prepared a scheme of water-supply for that authority, which was adopted by the Board; but, owing to one of the London Water Companies obtaining powers over the district, his scheme was not proceeded with. While at Wimbledon he carried out a large number of works, including the erection of two bridges over the River Wandle.

In February, 1890, Mr. Crimp was appointed District Engineer to the London County Council, where he had charge of the Barking Outfall Works under Sir Alexander Binnie. With Sir Alexander’s concurrence, he introduced radical changes at Barking in the working of the precipitation tanks, and thereby was successful in reducing the labour involved in removing the sludge from the tanks; and in many other ways he improved the methods of working. In conjunction with Mr. Worth he presented to the Institution a valuable Paper entitled "The Main Drainage of London." He was also engaged in several large street improvements in London, including the formation of Rosebery Avenue.

In July, 1894, Mr. Crimp joined the firm of Messrs. John Taylor & Sons, of Westminster; and from that time to his death continued to practise as a Consulting Engineer. During this period, Mr. Crimp, on behalf of the firm of which he was a partner, constructed many main drainage schemes, among which may be mentioned those for the districts of Woking, Ilford, Shrewsbury and Gillingham. He also acted as Consulting Engineer to the Corporations of Glasgow, Cardiff, and Bristol, in the matters of main drainage schemes for those cities; in each case acting in conjunction with the City Engineer.

In the summer of 1899 Mr. Crimp was invited by the Municipality of Bombay to visit India, with a view to report on questions arising out of the main drainage of that city, and on a number of other matters affecting the health of the community. He visited India for this purpose, and successfully dealt with many questions on which his advice was required. Whilst in India a number of other municipalities, including Simla, Surat, Cawnpore, and Poona, obtained his advice on numerous questions. He also investigated for the Indian Government the question of underground water supplies within the Presidency of Bombay, and made a voluminous and valuable report thereon.

Mr. Crimp had of late years become an acknowledged authority on all matters of municipal engineering. He was an excellent Parliamentary witness; having so thorough a grasp of the subject that he was able to answer almost any question with precision. His services were in consequence retained for nearly all the Corporation Bills of recent years.

His death was sudden and unexpected. In general he enjoyed good health, although he was not particularly robust. While making an inspection of some lands in the north of England during the cold wet weather of April, 1901, he contracted a severe chill, which, developing into pleurisy and pneumonia, resulted in his death on the 21st of that month. At the early age of 47 he was thus cut off in the prime of his professional career and at a time when his reputation had become firmly established. It may be truly said of him that whilst he had hosts of friends, he never made a single enemy.

Mr. Crimp was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 6th May, 1879, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 13th January, 1891.

1901 Obituary [2][3]

"...of Mr. William Santo Crimp, at the early age of forty-nine, creates a distinct blank in that branch of engineering in which he was a recognised leader. For nearly a quarter of a century Mr. Crimp was associated with sewage disposal schemes, and had a wider personal knowledge of such works than most of his contemporaries. At the age of twenty-six he was appointed resident engineer, under the Croydon Rural Sanitary Authority, to superintend the drainage of Merton, Morden, Mitcham, and Wallington.

In 1880 he became surveyor under the Wimbledon Local Board, and during the ten years he held that post completely remodelled the sewerage works and farm, in addition to reconstructing the greater portion of the main drainage, and carrying out extensions to meet the requirements of the fast-growing district. His success in these works marked him for more important..."[More]

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