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John Jackson (1834-1891)

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John Jackson (1834-1891), contractor, of Clements' Lane.

1866 John Jackson, of Harbour of Refuge Works, Alderney.[1]

1867 of Stibbington House, Wansford.

1871 Living in Northamptonshire on birth of Ida and subsequent children

1881 John Jackson, railway contractor, living in Eltham with Annie S. Jackson 44, Marion B. 18, Annie B. 17, Violet M. 15, Ida M. 10, Arthur W. 8[2]

c.1891 Death of John Jackson

1891 Obituary [3]

JOHN JACKSON, who was born on the 3rd February, 1834, at Brewood, Staffordshire, was the second son of the late Thomas Jackson, of Eltham Park, Kent, a well-known contractor for canals, breakwaters, and railways.

After being educated at King’s College, London, he served for some years under Messrs. Branson and Gwyther, contractors and builders, of Birmingham.

In 1852 John Jackson went to Alderney, where his father, in conjunction with Mr. A. W. Bean, of Danson Park, Welling, Kent, had taken a large contract for building a breakwater and fortifications. He superintended the building of the latter until 1857, when he took charge of both works until 1866. The engineering difficulties involved in the construction of the breakwater revealed themselves in all their magnitude as the work progressed: a site more difficult for such an erection could hardly be conceived. The breakwater was rather under a mile in length, the superstructurew as 45 feet wide and 50 feet from the foundation to thet op, whilst the rubble mound on which it was built extended to a depth of 130 feet at low water spring tides. It was exposed to the full force of the Atlantic waves, which, often lashed by westerly gales into tremendous fury, made clean breaches through the masonry superstructure, in one case to the extent of some 180 feet in length, costing £13,500 to repair. Altogether there were twenty breaches during the twenty-five years of construction and maintenance, up to 1872. The labour, difficulty and trouble of erection were far greater than the engineers or contractors could ever have contemplated. The first Armstrong gun mounted in this country was placed in the Alderney fortifications. During Mr. Jackson’s first year in charge, the Queen, accompanied by the late Prince Consort, visited the island during a yachting tour. Owing to the military authorities being without instructions from headquarters, they could take no part in the preparation for Her Majesty’s landing, which fell upon the contractors. As the resources of the little island were very limited, they had to transform a locomotive tender into a carriage, which, drawn by two powerful black horses, enabled the Queen to inspect the works and forts.

In 1866 Mr. Jackson left the island to take up several railway contracts in partnership with his brother Thomas. They constructed the Market Weighton and Beverley, Stamford and Essendine, and Spalding and March Lines. In the construction of the latter they encountered serious difficulties, owing to the boggy nature of the soil, and the embankment between Cowbet and Guyhire suddenly subsided about 6 feet, for the reconstruction of which some millions of faggots were used. In 1872, in conjunction with the late Mr. George Wythes of Bickley Park, Kent, Mr. Jackson constructed the Rio Quarto Railway in the Argentine Republic. In 1874, Messrs. Wythes and Jackson, also surveyed and constructed the Natal Government Railways from Durban to Maritzburg, and of the North and South lines from Durban to Isiping and Verulam. In 1887 Mr. Jackson undertook the construction of the Argentine Northern Central Railway extensions, which were nearly completed when he died. These extensions were over 400 miles in length.

Mr. Jackson was a great lover and supporter of athletic sports, and in all his different undertakings each section of the works had its cricket and other clubs. In 1887 and 1888, when he went to Buenos Ayres to inspect the different lines of railways he was constructing there, he took with him a well-known Sussex cricketer, with a view to give zest to the game in that country. He was an old supporter of the Sussex team, and hired a field and built a Pavilion at Willingdon for the local players.

In politics Mr. Jackson was a strong Conservative, and was returned as one of the Ward representatives when Eastbourne was first formed into a Corporation. In 1889 he was persuaded to stand for the new County Council for Sussex, and was returned at the head of the poll. Hospitality and kindness of heart were the prominent features of his character. He was always ready to lend a helping hand to those who required it, and in an unostentatious way he disbursed large sums in charity.

Mr. Jackson was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 4th of April, 1871. He died on the 14th February, 1891.

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