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James Mansergh

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James Mansergh (1834-1905) Civil engineer and F.R.S., Westminster, London, of Lawson and Mansergh and James Mansergh and Sons

1905 Obituary [1]

JAMES MANSERGH, F.R.S., was born at Lancaster on 29th April 1834, and was educated at Harmony Hall, Hampshire. One of the masters Dr. (afterwards Sir) Edward Frankland, the distinguished chemist, and another was John Tyndall, to whom he owed his first impetus towards engineering.

In 1849 he began an apprenticeship with Messrs. McKie and Lawson, engineers and surveyors, of Lancaster.

At the age of twenty-one he went to Brazil, where he remained for four years as engineer to Mr. E. Price, contractor for the Dom Pedro Segundo Railway from Rio de Janeiro to the interior.

In 1859 he returned to England and rejoined his old master, Mr. McKie, at Carlisle, doing general engineering work and laying out the first sewage farm in England.

From 1862 to 1865 he was contractor's agent for Messrs. John Watson and Co., being engaged first on the Mid-Wales Railway, and then on the Llandilo and Carmarthen Railway.

In 1866 he entered into partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. John Lawson, at Westminster, his first work being the laying out of a gravitation scheme of water supply for Carlisle. The partners, before Mr. Lawson's death in 1873, designed and carried out either sewerage or waterworks schemes or both at twenty-five towns in England.

In 1870 they were associated with Mr. (afterwards Sir) Robert Rawlinson in reporting upon the water supply of Birmingham. Mr. Mansergh recommended the scheme adopted twenty years later for utilising the valleys of the Elan and Claerwen.

In 1878 he was requested to prepare a scheme for the sewerage of the Lower Thames Valley, and was awarded one of three premiums. The accepted scheme having been finally rejected, he was engaged with Mr. J. C. Melliss in 1883 to devise another, which was approved by the Local Government Board, but defeated in Parliament.

He also was one of the chief witnesses before Lord Bramwell's Commission on Metropolitan Sewage Discharge, and suggested the mode of treatment since adopted.

In 1889 he went to Australia to advise the Government of Victoria upon the sewerage of Melbourne and its environs. The complete scheme which he drew up was estimated to cost nearly six million pounds. Whilst in Melbourne he advised the Government upon the draft Metropolitan Board Bill, which provided for the incorporation of the districts of twenty-three local authorities within the City of Melbourne. The bill ultimately became law, and the scheme has been carried out almost m he recommended.

His name however will best be remembered in connection with the Birmingham water scheme. In 1890 he was again consulted by the Corporation of Birmingham, and reported once more in favour of the Elan and Claerwen scheme. He utilised completely a watershed area of 71 square miles, which suffices to provide 27 million gallons a day as compensation to the River Elan, and 75 millions for the supply of Birmingham and the towns adjacent to the aqueduct. The water is conveyed by a conduit having 13 miles of tunnel, 23 miles of cut and cover, and 37 miles of iron or steel pipes crossing valleys, with service reservoirs, filter beds, and accessory works. The estimate for this scheme amounted to nearly six million pounds.

The supply was inaugurated on 21st July 1904 by the King and Queen, who were conducted over the works in the Elan valley by Mr. Mansergh.

During the last ten years of his life he was engaged in carrying out twelve more schemes of sewerage and sewage disposal, including those for Coventry, Derby, Exmouth, and Plymouth, and twenty works of water supply, also making ninety-two reports on sewerage and water. His services were much in demand, as may be shown by the fact that he acted for no fewer than 360 municipalities, local bodies, &c., and he prepared upwards of 250 reports on sewerage and waterworks alone.

As a witness before committees of both Houses of Parliament he appeared upwards of six hundred times; and he was appointed a member of the Royal Commission on the Metropolitan Water Supply, 1892-93.

He lectured from time to time before various bodies, generally on the subject of water supply, and his Presidential Address to the Institution of Civil Engineers dealt with the history of water engineering.

In March 1903 he was made an honorary freeman of his native town of Lancaster. He was a Justice of the Peace for Radnorshire, of which county he was High Sheriff in 1901.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1875, and served on the Council from 1902 till his death. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and was elected President in 1900. In 1901 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

His death took place at his residence in Hampstead, London, on 15th June 1905, at the age of seventy-one.

1905 Obituary [2]

1905 Obituary [3]

1905 Obituary [4]

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