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John Addison

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John Addison (1820-1903)

1851 of 6 Delahay Street, Westminster.[1]

1852 Birth of son John Copley Addison

1903 Obituary [2]

JOHN ADDISON, born at Liverpool on the 12th April, 1820, belonged to a family who had lived for many generations at Upper Teesdale. Early in life he showed a taste for engineering work, and during the development. of the railway system throughout the country adopted that profession. He was educated at Darlington.

At the age of 10, when staying in Liverpool, he was present at the funeral of Mr. Huskisson, M.P., who was killed at the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, and this great demonstration of public feeling made a lasting impression.

On leaving school in October, 1836, Mr. Addison was articled to Stephen Robinson of Hartlepool, where he acquired some experience in railway and dock construction, and during the latter part of his pupilage he was employed as Resident Engineer on the Clarence and Hartlepool Junction Railway then in course of construction.

After this he spent about a year at the Hartlepool Engineering Works in order to gain some knowledge of the mechanical branch of the profession.

During the years 1839 and 1840 he lectured on surveying, levelling and mechanical drawing to the newly-formed engineering class at Durham University.

In 1842 he entered the office of John and Benjamin Green, Architects and Civil Engineers of Newcastle-on-Tyne, but was soon afterwards engaged by John Blackmore, the Engineer of the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, as Chief Assistant, in which capacity he conducted the business of Mr. Blackmore, whose health had failed.

On the death of Mr. Blackmore in March 1844, Mr. Addison was appointed to the staff of Locke and Errington, who were at that time the engineers of lines about to be constructed from Lancaster to Carlisle, in extension of the London and North Western system, and from Carlisle to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Forfar, on the Caledonian Railway.

In that capacity he ran one of the first lines of levels over Shap Fells and afterwards prepared the working section of the Lancaster and Carlisle line. He was subsequently employed by Messrs. Locke and Errington on the Parliamentary surveys of the Shrewsbury and Stafford, the Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, the Hayton and Warrington, the Runcorn Gap and other lines.

During the memorable Parliamentary contest between the Caledonian and the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Companies in 1845, Mr. Addison was sent on behalf of the former Company to survey a line through the Dalveen Pass connecting Thornhill on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway with Elvanfoot on the Caledonian Railway ; the Parliamentary Committee desiring to have a report as to whether the two railways could be combined. The report being hostile to that theory resulted in the Caledonian Railway, for which Mr. Addison was engaged, obtaining their Act.

Mr. Addison was then appointed Resident Engineer on the Southern division of the new Railway (the Caledonian), and, after preparing the working sections of the first 60 miles from Carlisle northwards, superintended the construction of the first 30 miles, on which is the first railway bridge uniting England with Scotland.

Between 1845 and 1848 he surveyed several lines promoted by the Caledonian Company to Annan, Dumfries, Cannobie, Langholm and Brampton, and gave engineering evidence before Parliamentary Committees against sundry hostile schemes projected by other companies.

The financial crisis of 1847 and 1848 brought a great strain to bear on the working powers of the Caledonian staff. The public began to lose faith in the rapid development of railway enterprise. Bankers and capitalists hesitated to advance more money except on the personal guarantee of the directors, thus placing the promoters of the Caledonian Railway in great difficulties. Happily the credit of the Company was to a great extent restored by the opening of the line from Carlisle to Beattock on the 10th September, 1847, and was quite established when the railway through to Edinburgh and Glasgow was opened on the 15th February, 1848.

Mr. Addison often referred to this event as one of the greatest interest and excitement. He remained on the engine of the first train that travelled from Carlisle to Edinburgh throughout the journey of sixteen hours, when in several places temporary rails had to be laid in order to enable them to pass over the unfinished sections of the line ; but the result, namely, the arrival of the little train in Edinburgh, at once restored confidence to the minds of capitalists, for till then the public had grave doubts as to whether it was possible for a locomotive steam-engine to draw a train of carriages over 'Beattock summit'” namely, the heavy gradient to the north of Moffat. It was on the 30th September, 1848, that Queen Victoria made her first railway journey to Scotland, and this was by the Caledonian line.

In December, 1857, after having served the Caledonian Railway Company for upwards of twelve years as Resident Engineer and subsequently as Superintendent of the line, Mr. Addison undertook the management of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway, being appointed head of its several departments. He retained that post for twenty-seven years during the most prosperous period of the Company’s existence, and then declining health compelled him to retire from active official life on the 1st March, 1884, at the age of 64. On his retirement he was appointed a Director of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway Company.

Mr. Addison always took keen interest in matters relating to the welfare of the district in which he lived. He commanded the Maryport Artillery Volunteers from the year 1860 to 1865. In 1877 he was appointed a trustee of the District and Harbour of Maryport, and in October of the same year he was placed on the Commission of the Peace for the County of Cumberland.

He married in 1845 the younger daughter of the late Mr. John Green, of Newcastle-on-Tyne, Architect to the Duke of Northumberland. Mr. Addison died at his residence, The Castle Hill, Maryport, on the 22nd March, 1903, in his 83rd year.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 2nd March, 1847, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 1st February, 1859.

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