John Willet (1815-1891)
JOHN WILLET was born at Aitkenhead in the Parish of Kirkmichael, Ayrshire, on the 6th of February, 1815. He was educated at Kirkmichael Parish School, at Dailly Public School, and at Ayr Academy, and subsequently attended the School of Arts in Edinburgh.
At twenty-two years of age he was apprenticed to James Thomson, civil engineer, of Glasgow.
At the end of his time he entered, as an assistant, the office of Andrew Thomson, also a civil engineer in Glasgow, who was largely occupied in the construction of railways. Young Willet, while with him, was engaged on the Pollock and Govan Railway and other lines, now forming part of the Caledonian system. He also assisted Mr. Thom, of Greenock, in the construction of the waterworks for that town.
On their completion he went, in 1843, to Liverpool, as an assistant to Locke and Errington. That was the time of the 'railway mania,' and under his new masters Mr. Willet had ample opportunities of gaining professional experience both in England and Scotland. He was engaged on many of the lines and schemes of Messrs. Locke and Errington, among which may be mentioned the Grand Junction Railway (between Birmingham and Warrington), the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway, the Harrogate Railway, the Runcorn Gap Railway, the Birkenhead and Manchester Railway, and the Aberdeen Railway.
He was appointed, in 1845, one of the resident engineers in charge of the construction of the lines from Carlisle northwards, . . . [more]