Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Luigi Luiggi

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Senator Luigi Luiggi (1856-1931), Professor of Hydraulic Engineering and Maritime Conservation at the University of Rome

1931 Obituary [1]


From Roman times up to the present remarkable period of industrial and constructional development in Italy, the engineers of that nation have been the designers and builders of many civil engineering works of outstanding interest. To few of them, however, in recent years was it given to create such a wide circle of interests and friends as the late Senator Dr.-Ing. Luigi Luiggi, who at the age of seventy-five recently died in Rome. At international conferences and congresses few figures were more familiar than that of Luigi Luiggi, whose personality and work was known, not alone in European countries and North and South America, but also in the countries of the Mediterranean and in the Far East.

Commendatore Ingegnere Luigi Luiggi was born in Genoa in 1856, and at quite an early age he showed unmistakable evidence of unusual ability. After completing his earlier education, he attended the University of Genoa from 1873 to 1875, and then passed on to the Regio Politecnico di Torino, from which college he graduated with honours three years later. In 1880 he was appointed a junior engineer in the Ministry of Public Works at Rome, and very shortly afterwards was sent to England in order to study lighthouse work and port and harbour construction under the late Sir James Douglas. During this time he made his first acquaintance with English ports, which he continued to visit at frequent intervals for several years. On his return to Italy in 1882 he took up a position on the staff of engineers who were working on the modernising of the harbour of Genoa, and he was personally responsible for the construction of the two dry docks behind the Veccia mole. In later years he was honorary consulting engineer to the Genoa Port Authority for the more recent improvement works at that seaport. About 1893 he became chief engineer in charge of Tuscan lighthouses and harbours, and while holding that position he also superintended the carrying out of the train ferry system across the Straits of Messina.

He had a fluent knowledge of foreign languages, and travelled frequently with a view to acquainting himself with the progress in European harbour construction. In 1896 his services were lent by the Ministry of Public Works to the Argentine Government for the building of the great military port at Bahia Blanca, which included the construction of a very large dry dock, in the making of which Italian material and the services of many Italian workmen were utilised. From 1896 to 1905 Luigi Luiggi was the consulting engineer to the ports of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, and he also carried out port and harbour works at La Plata, Rosario and Deslado. On his return to Italy in 1905 he became a member of the Council of Administration of State Railways, and two years later was made Professor of Hydraulic Engineering and Maritime Construction in the University of Rome.

The period of his professorship was marked by several further activities, including consulting work in South America and Egypt, and for the International Danube Commission. He was also nominated by the Italian Government as a delegate on the International Committee for the Suez Canal. About this time he carried out port works on the shores of the Red Sea and in Tripoli, while he acted for the Egyptian Government, in collaboration with Sir Cyril Kirkpatrick, M. Inst C.E., and Monsieur C. Laroche, and was responsible for port and harbour undertakings at Alexandria, Damietta. Rosier, and Mersa Matru.

Although Dr. Luigi Luiggi’s main interests were connected with maritime works, a subject which he made peculiarly his own in his world-wide travels, and on which he came to be regarded as a recognised authority, he, nevertheless, carried out other important works connected with hydro-electric power schemes, canals, aqueducts, roads, and railways, both in his own country and in South America.

He was promoted to the highest rank in the Italian Ministry of Public Works service, and he retired from this service in 1923, with the title of Honorary President of the National Council of Public Works. Other committees and councils of which he was a member included those dealing with Railways, Irrigation, Public Instruction, and National Economy. He took up parliamentary work in the Twenty-sixth Legislature, as a member of the National Party, and was later nominated a Senatore del Regno. Although he was a comparatively old man when the Fascist movement began, he allied himself whole-heartedly with it, and was freely consulted w ith regard to civil engineering problems arising under the recent reconstruction schemes carried out under Signor Mussolini’s regime.

We have already mentioned his very frequent foreign visits as the representative of the Italian Government, to various international conferences, and outstanding among the more recent of these we may mention the Engineering Congress at Japan, at which he led the Italian delegation with no uncertain voice. He paid many visits to America, and was in New York for the University Centenary Celebrations, and for the fiftieth anniversary of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, on which occasion he was one of the delegates who was selected for presentation with the commemoration medal which was specially struck in honour of that occasion.

Dr. Luigi Luiggi was elected a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1901, and he was an honorary member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and many other foreign scientific societies.

In 1921 he accepted an invitation of the Senate of London University to give a course of lectures on engineering works executed in Italy in the previous two decades. This series of lectures was repeated at Melbourne, Australia, and in America. He was the recipient of university degrees in science and engineering, in recognition of the work he had done. Dr. Luigi Luiggi became a member of the Italian Committee of Industrial Mobilisation at the outbreak of the late war, and held the rank of Colonel. He received many Royal, military and civil honours, not only in Italy, but also in France, Greece, and South America. Although during the last few years he had practically retired from active practice, his services were frequently sought in an advisory capacity, and quite recently he spent some time in Egypt and Albania in connection with port schemes, while only last year he paid a further visit to America. His death is widely regretted, not alone in Italy, but by the many English and American friends with whom he came into contact during his many foreign journeys and through his widely spread activities."

1931 Obituary[2]


Although the advance of civilisation is actually due more to the engineer than to the politician, the former rarely receives adequate recognition, either in history or in contemporary literature. It is therefore pleasing to record that the name of Dr. Luigi Luiggi, whose death we regret to report in Rome on February 1, was not only widely known and honoured throughout Italy, but in many other' European countries, and more remote parts of the world. Since the time of the Roman Empire, the Italian people have been distinguished for their engineering ability, and the spirit which gave rise to the Appian Way is in evidence to-d&y in the great programme of construction initiated under the Fascist risorgimento. Although the bulk of Dr. Luiggi’s active work was done before the march on Rome, his advice was freely sought by the Government' in the subsequent period, and of few men can it be more truly said that their works live after them and constitute their most-fitting monument.

Luigi Luiggi was born at Genoa, on August 3, 1856, and gave early evidence of his exceptional ability. He spent-the years between 1873- and 1875 at the University of Genoa, and in the-latter year, entered the Royal Civil Engineering College at Turin. He left the Royal College in 1878 as the Senior Wrangler. He was appointed a junior engineer in the Royal Corps of Italian Engineers in 1880, and immediately left his own country for Great Britain, where he obtained experience in lighthouse and maritime work under the late Sir James Douglas. His first association, thus made with other countries, was destined to expand until his death. Those who had the good fortune to meet him in later years could not but he struck by his lack of insularity and intimate knowledge of the problems of other countries than his own. Endowed by nature with a charming personality, he made himself an accomplished linguist. His knowledge of English was beyond reproach, and we have heard him more than once strongly express the view that it was a waste of time to enter a foreign country for business purposes without at least a good working knowledge of the language.

He returned to Italy in 1882 to take up the position of resident engineer on the Genoa harbour works, and in that position, took a responsible part in bringing the port into conformity with modem requirements. In describing the port of Genoa, on page 4, ante, et seq., it may be recalled that we divided the work executed since 1876 into two parts for purposes of description, the first comprising the modernisation of the old port, and the second the creation of new basins lying along the foreshore. Dr. Luiggi took little or no active part in the latter work, although he was honorary consultant to the Port Authority, but he was responsible for the design and construction of many of the important works comprised within the former, including the two dry docks behind the Vecchio mole, to which extensive reference was made in our article.

In 1893, Dr. Luiggi was appointed engineer-in-chief of harbours and lighthouses in Tuscany, and while occupying this position, was appointed to superintend the train-ferry system across the Straits of Messina, which will be familiar to those of our readers who have had occasion to travel overland to Syracuse, or other parts of Sicily. Much of his more important work was carried out in South America, his first association with that country being in 1896, when he was invited by the Argentine Government to take over the direction of the military port works at Bahia Blanca. This work was of the first importance, and included the construction of a dry dock which, at the time, was the largest in the world. The greater part of the plant required, with large quantities of cement and granite, were sent out from Italy, and incidentally close upon two thousand Italian workmen found employment on the works for a period of five years. On completing the port works at Bahia Blanca, Dr. Luiggi was employed on similar works at Buenos Ayres, Rosario, del Plata, and Deslado, in Argentina, and at Montevideo, in Uruguay. His association with the Argentine corresponded with a period of intensive development in the country, of which an account will be found in Engineering, vol. lxxxix, page 619, et seq. (1910), when we dealt with the centenary of the Republic. Special interest attaches to this period of Dr. Luiggi’s work on account of the long-standing friendly ties between the Argentine and ourselves, and the incidence of the British Empire Exhibition, to be held next month in Buenos Ayres.

On Dr. Luiggi’s return to Italy in 1905, he became Counsellor for the administration of the State Railways, and in 1907 was appointed Professor of Hydraulic Engineering and Maritime Construction in the University of Rome. With many men, such an appointment would be regarded as an opportunity to withdraw from active work, and enjoy a well-earned leisure; but Dr. Luiggi’s dynamic personality gave rise to a very different interpretation to his duties. Apart from accepting the position of consulting engineer for the- port of Buenos Ayres during this period, he was appointed technical consultant to the Egyptian Government, technical consultant for the International Commission for the Danube, and was nominated by the Italian Government as a delegate on the International Committee for the Suez Canal. He was responsible for works on the Red Sea, and in Tripoli, and, acting for the Egyptian Government, for port works at Alexandria, Suez, Mersa Matru, Hosseir, and Damietta.

Up till the present, we have dealt only with Dr. Luiggi’s activities in relation to port and harbour works, on which he was one of the greatest living authorities. His interests, however, embraced all types of civil engineering, and in all the three main periods of his professional life to which we have referred, he found time to carry out important work on hydro-electric plants, navigable and irrigation canals, aqueducts, roads, and even buildings. So wide were his activities and interests in these varying directions, in fact, that it is only possible to mention a few of the more important. He prepared plans for aqueducts at Bahia Blanca and Puerto Militar, in the Argentine, and for similar works at Livorno, Lucca, Pontedera, Chiavari, Genoa and other regions in Italy. He was honorary consultant to the Comune of Genoa for the great sea road, for the hospital of Pammatone and Albero, and for the Val Noci and Entella aqueducts, in addition to the new harbour works to which reference has already been made. In his capacity of honorary consultant to the Comune, his advice was also sought on the Genoa-Milan-Stelvio and Genoa-Piacenza railways, and on the road from Lavagna to Cavi. The Comune of Chiavari consulted him in connection with defence works against the inroads of the sea.

The high degree of esteem in which Dr. Luiggi’s work was held by the government of Italy is indicated by the frequency with which he was invited to represent that country at international conferences, among which may be mentioned the Engineering Congress in Japan, the centenary celebrations of the University. of New York, and the celebrations to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, when he was one of the selected recipients of the com-memorationMedal struck on thatoccasion. Inl921,atthe invitation of the Senate of London University he gave a course of lectures on engineering works executed in Italy in the previous twenty years, and performed the same service at Melbourne, and at Troy in the United States. On the two latter occasions, his work was recognised by conferring upon him suitable degrees. He was the author of numerous scientific memoirs on port and harbour engineering work, of which the best known are Le opere marittime addetie ai parti italiani; Criteri per comparare la resistanze dei moli; Pozzolane, and Evoluzione delle dighe per laghi artificali.

Dr. Luiggi was elevated to the highest grade of Inspector-Superior in the Royal Corps of Italian Civil Engineers, and retired from that body in 1923, with the title of Honorary President of the Superior Council for Public Works. He was president of the Royal Committee on Irrigation, a member of the Council of Administration of the State Railways, and of the Councils for Public Instruction, and for National Economy. He became a parliamentary deputy in the Twenty-Sixth Legislature, where he took his seat among the Nationalists, and was later nominated a Senators del Regno. He was a Grand Officer of the Order of Saints Maurizio and Lazzaro, and was created a Commander of the Star of Italy for meritorious work in Eritrea, Libia and Somaliland. He was also a Knight, of the Order of the Crown of Italy, an officer of the French Legion of Honour, and a Grand Officer of the Gran Salvatore of Greece. He was decorated for the campaigns in Eritrea and Libia, and was awarded the Italian Croce Rossa for his technical achievements. At the outbreak of the war, he became a member of the Committee for Industrial Mobilisation, and held throughout the rank of Colonel. For his services in the Argentine, the Government of that country honoured him by giving his name to a town of 10,000 inhabitants, and he was given the freedom of the City of Bahia Blanca, with the additional honourof having a street named after him., Hewa's elected a full member of the Institution of-Civil Engineers in this country in 190S, and was an honorary member of the American Society of dvjl Engineers, and numerous other foreign scientific societies.

Although practically retired from the exercise of the profession in which he had achieved such distinction, Dr. Luiggi very recently spent three months in Egypt for the purpose of finally revising the plans for the improvement of the various port works that he had previously initiated, and two months in Albania to prepare projects for port improvements at Durazzo and S. Giovanni di Medua. His loss will be deeply felt among the many friends that he made not only in this country,, but also throughout the civilised world.

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