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Thomas Monk Newell

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1922. Extensions to the Gladstone Dock at Liverpool.

Thomas Monk Newell M Inst C.E. Engineer. (1863-1932)

1932 Obituary[1]


Mr. T. M. Newell, who died at Birkenhead on Wednesday, January 20, at the age of 68, was closely connected throughout his life with that branch of engineering which has to do with docks, and was himself responsible for constructing works which largely increased the facilities available for dealing with shipping and cargoes at two of our principal ports.

Thomas Monk Newell was born on February 9, 1863, and was the son of Mr. John Newell, of Claughton, who was himself a member of a firm of general and railway contractors. At the age of 17 he became a pupil of Mr. George Fosberry Lister, who at that time was engineer of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, and was employed by him in the drawing office on work connected with the extensions of the North Dock, Liverpool, and of the high-level coal railway. He was also in charge of the construction of the deep-water and graving docks at London, for which he prepared the drawings, while subsequently he prepared a scheme for and supervised the execution of the extension of seven of the older docks on the Mersey.

In 1889, at the comparatively early age of 26, he was appointed chief assistant engineer of the Hull Dock Co, under Mr. R. A. Merewether, and on the retirement of the latter in the following year became chief engineer to that body. In 1900, the Hull Docks Company was taken over by the London and North Eastern Railway, and Mr. Newell then became engineer for the railway docks at the Hartlepools and Middlesbrough, in addition to retaining his appointment at Hull. While acting in this capacity he was responsible, in conjunction with Mr. R. Faroley of the Hull and Barnsley Railway, for the construction of a joint dock on the Humber about three miles from the centre of- Hull. This dock, which was opened by H.M. the King in 1914, and is now known as the King George Dock, had a water area of 53 acres and a quay length of 8,162 ft. Admission to it from the river was obtained from a single lock and it was designed so that the minimum depth of water should be 31 ft. 8 in. A considerable amount of equipment for handling grain, coal and timber was provided and, in addition, there were two graving docks.

Before this scheme was actually completed, however, Mr. Newell returned to Liverpool as chief engineer to the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board, in succession to Mr. Antony George Lyster. At that time, considerable work was in progress for extending and improving the facilities at that port, especially with a view to providing accommodation for the large Cunard liners which were then being constructed or contemplated. The scheme included a sea wall on the north shore of the Mersey, and the construction of an entrance lock from the river with a length of 1,070 ft. and a width of 130 ft., so that the largest ships could enter or leave on any tide. Inside this lock was to be a half-tide dock, known as the Gladstone Dock, covering 22 acres, and out óf this, two branch docks, 1,420 ft. and 1,285 ft. long, respectively, and a graving dock opened. Work on the graving dock was begun in 1910 and access to it was at first obtained direct from the river. When, however, the whole scheme was completed, nearly five years ago, this entrance was closed and the graving dock is now reached as originally intended through the Gladstone lock and dock. The latter is also connected to the adjoining Hornby Dock through a second lock. Though the scheme was planned by Mr. Lyster, the work was actually carried out under the supervision of Mr. Newell, who also desigfied the lock gates. These have a span of'136 ft. and are therefore the largest in the country. They also exceed the span of those used on the Panama Canal by some 25 ft.

Mr. Newell was elected an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1889 and became a full member in 1898. In addition to the work that has already been mentioned, he also held an inquiry into the contract for the Tanjong Pagan dock at Singapore, and in connection with this gave important evidence in the High Court."

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