Thomas Hawksley

Last updated

Thomas Hawksley
Thomas Hawksley
Born(1807-07-12)12 July 1807
Arnold, Nottinghamshire
Died23 September 1893(1893-09-23) (aged 86)
Kensington, London
EducationSelf-taught from age 15
Children Charles Hawksley
Parent(s)John Hawksley and Sarah Thompson
Engineering career
Discipline Civil engineering
Institutions Institution of Civil Engineers (president), Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (president), Fellow of the Royal Society
Projects Lindley Wood, Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs

Thomas Hawksley (12 July 180723 September 1893) was an English civil engineer of the 19th century, particularly associated with early water supply and coal gas engineering projects. Hawksley was, with John Frederick Bateman, the leading British water engineer of the nineteenth century and was personally responsible for upwards of 150 water-supply schemes, in the British Isles and overseas. [1]

Civil engineer engineer specialising in design, construction and maintenance of the built environment

A civil engineer is a person who practices civil engineering – the application of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, and operating infrastructures while protecting the public and environmental health, as well as improving existing infrastructures that have been neglected.

Water supply Provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations or others

Water supply is the provision of water by public utilities, commercial organisations, community endeavors or by individuals, usually via a system of pumps and pipes. Irrigation is covered separately.

Coal gas is a flammable gaseous fuel made from coal and supplied to the user via a piped distribution system. It is produced when coal is heated strongly in the absence of air. Town gas is a more general term referring to manufactured gaseous fuels produced for sale to consumers and municipalities.



The son of John Hawksley and Sarah Thompson and born in Arnot Hill House, Arnold, near Nottingham on 12 July 1807, [2] Hawksley was largely self-taught from the age of 15 onwards—despite his education at Nottingham High School [3] —having at that point become articled to a local firm of architects under the supervision of Edward Staveley that also undertook a variety of water-related engineering projects.

Arnold, Nottinghamshire Market town and suburb of Nottingham

Arnold is a market town, unparished area and suburb of the city of Nottingham, in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire in the East Midlands of England. It is situated to the north-east of Nottingham's city boundary. Arnold's town centre is the largest in the borough of Gedling and the most important in the northeastern part of the Greater Nottingham conurbation. Since 1968 Arnold has had a market, and the town used to have numerous factories associated with the hosiery industry. Nottinghamshire Police have been headquartered in Arnold since 1979. At the time of the 2011 census, Arnold had a population of 37,768.

Nottingham City and unitary authority area in England

Nottingham is a city and unitary authority area in Nottinghamshire, England, 128 miles (206 km) north of London, 45 miles (72 km) northeast of Birmingham and 56 miles (90 km) southeast of Manchester, in the East Midlands.

Nottingham High School co-educational independent day school in Nottingham, England

Nottingham High School is an independent, fee-paying day school for boys and girls in Nottingham, England, comprising the Infant and Junior School and Senior School. Approximately 1,000 students attend the school, including around 800 in the Senior School.

Locally, he remains particularly associated with schemes in his home county. He was engineer to the Nottingham Gas Light and Coke Company and Nottingham Waterworks Company for more than half a century, having, early in his career, completed the Trent Bridge waterworks (1831). This scheme delivered Britain's first high pressure 'constant supply', preventing contamination entering the supply of clean water mains. [4]

City of Nottingham Water Department

The City of Nottingham Water Department (1912–1974), formerly the Nottingham Corporation Water Department (1880–1912), was responsible for the supply of water to Nottingham from 1880 to 1974. The first water supply company in the town was the Nottingham Waterworks Company, established in 1696, which took water from the River Leen, and later from springs at Scotholme, when the river became polluted. Other companies were set up in the late 18th century and in 1824, while in 1826 the Trent Water Company was established. They employed Thomas Hawksley as their engineer, who became one of the great water engineers of the period, and Nottingham had the first constant pressurised water supply system in the country. The various companies amalgamated in 1845, and Hawksley remained as the consulting engineer until 1879.

Hawksley first rose to national prominence at the time of the health of towns inquiry in 1844. His advocacy of a constant supply of water to consumers brought him immediate acclaim. Edwin Chadwick adopted Hawksley as an ally for a time, but Hawksley adopted a more pragmatic approach and was prepared to act for others' undertakings. [1] This approach led him to be appointed to many major water supply projects across England, including schemes for Liverpool, Sheffield, Leicester, Lincoln, Leeds, Derby, Darlington, Oxford, Cambridge, Sunderland, Wakefield and Northampton. He also undertook drainage projects, including schemes for Birmingham, Worcester and Windsor.

Health of Towns Association

The Health of Towns Association was formed at a meeting in Exeter Hall, London on 11 December 1844 and was a key organisation in the development of public health in the United Kingdom. Its formation followed the 1843 establishment of the Health of Towns Commission, chaired by Sir Edwin Chadwick, which produced a series of reports on poor and unsanitary conditions in British cities, quickly prompting the creation of Health of Towns Association branches in several major cities, including Edinburgh, Liverpool and Manchester. These national and local movements led to the passing of the Public Health Act 1848.

Edwin Chadwick British social reformer

Sir Edwin Chadwick KCB was an English social reformer who is noted for his leadership in reforming the Poor Laws in England and instituting major reforms in urban sanitation and public health. A disciple of Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham, he was most active between 1832 and 1854; after that he held minor positions, and his views were largely ignored. Chadwick pioneered the use of scientific surveys to identify all phases of a complex social problem, and pioneered the use of systematic long-term inspection programmes to make sure the reforms operated as planned.

Liverpool City and metropolitan borough in England

Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in North West England, with an estimated population of 491,500. Its metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in the UK, with a population of 2.24 million in 2011. The local authority is Liverpool City Council, the most populous local government district in the metropolitan county of Merseyside and the largest in the Liverpool City Region.

In 1852, Hawksley set up his own engineering practice in Westminster, London. He was the first president of the Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers [5] (serving for three years from 1863), a Fellow of the Royal Society, [6] and was elected President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1871 (a post his son Charles later occupied in 1901). [7]

The Institution of Gas Engineers and Managers (IGEM) is the professional engineering institution supporting individuals and businesses working in the global gas industry. The Institution's address is IGEM House, High Street, Kegworth, Derbyshire, DE74 2DA, United Kingdom.

Royal Society national academy of science in the United Kingdom

The Royal Society, formally The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, is a learned society and the United Kingdom's national academy of sciences. Founded on 28 November 1660, it was granted a royal charter by King Charles II as "The Royal Society". It is the oldest national scientific institution in the world. The society fulfils a number of roles: promoting science and its benefits, recognising excellence in science, supporting outstanding science, providing scientific advice for policy, fostering international and global co-operation, education and public engagement. It also performs these roles for the smaller countries of the Commonwealth.

Institution of Civil Engineers independent professional association, headquartered in central London

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is an independent professional association for civil engineers and a charitable body in the United Kingdom. Based in London, ICE has over 92,000 members, of whom three-quarters are located in the UK, while the rest are located in more than 150 other countries. The ICE aims to support the civil engineering profession by offering professional qualification, promoting education, maintaining professional ethics, and liaising with industry, academia and government. Under its commercial arm, it delivers training, recruitment, publishing and contract services. As a professional body, ICE aims to support and promote professional learning, managing professional ethics and safeguarding the status of engineers, and representing the interests of the profession in dealings with government, etc. It sets standards for membership of the body; works with industry and academia to progress engineering standards and advises on education and training curricula.

Hawksley's grave in Brookwood Cemetery Thomas Hawksley Grave Brookwood.jpg
Hawksley's grave in Brookwood Cemetery

Between 1869 and 1879, Hawksley acted as consultant to the construction of Lindley Wood, Swinsty and Fewston reservoirs for the Leeds Waterworks Company. [8] At Tunstall Reservoir in 1876, and at Cowm Reservoir in 1877-78, he is credited with the first two uses of pressure grouting to control water leakage under an embankment dam. [1] [9] [10] [11] Glossop comments, "This procedure of rock grouting, which is now standard practice in dam construction, was an invention of the greatest importance to engineering practice, but its adoption by civil engineers was slow." [12]

Lindley Wood Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Lindley Wood Reservoir is located in the Washburn valley north of Otley in Yorkshire, England.

Swinsty Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Swinsty Reservoir is a reservoir in the Washburn valley north of Otley and west of Harrogate in Yorkshire, England. Construction began in 1871 and was completed in 1878. The capacity is about 866 million gallons, with a surface area of 63 hectares. It can be found from the A59 road.

Fewston Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Fewston Reservoir is located in the Washburn valley north of Otley and west of Harrogate in Yorkshire, England. It was built in 1879. The capacity is about 3.5 million cubic metres. It can be found from the A59 road.The overflow from the reservoir feeds directly into the adjoining Swinsty Reservoir. Formerly, this overflow was encircled by a metal walkway from which floodboards could be lowered, but this has since been removed.The reservoir is the property of Yorkshire Water, which manages it for the benefit of walkers, anglers and wildlife. Situated in the charming Washburn valley, sharing an embankment with Swinsty Reservoir, Fewston is popular with walkers and runners. Cyclists and horse-riders can also make use of their own permitted tracks in the surrounding woodlands. Make use of the accessible toilets at Swinsty Moor car park with accessible parking here and at Blubberhouses car park. There are no steps, stiles or gates and the reservoir features wide, well surfaced paths with only a few moderate inclines.

Hawksley died in Kensington, London in 1893 [13] and is buried in his family plot at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey. In December 2007 a granite memorial was placed over his previously unmarked grave. [14]

Thomas Hawksley was the first of four generations of eminent water engineers, having been followed into the profession by his son, Charles Hawksley, grandson Kenneth Phipson Hawksley, and great grandson, Thomas Edwin Hawksley (died 1972). The Institution of Mechanical Engineers still holds an annual lecture in his memory,

Related Research Articles

James Mansergh civil engineer

James Mansergh FRS was an English civil engineer.

The year 1876 in science and technology involved some significant events, listed below.

Cropston Reservoir reservoir in the United Kingdom

Cropston Reservoir lies in Charnwood Forest in Leicestershire, England. The dam and associated water works are in Cropston, while the bulk of the reservoir is in the neighbouring Newtown Linford parish. It was opened in May 1871 in a corner of Bradgate Park, a large expanse of open land northwest of Leicester. It is part of the 987-acre (399.3 ha) Bradgate Park and Cropston Reservoir Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Anglezarke Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Anglezarke Reservoir is the largest reservoir in the Rivington chain to the west of Anglezarke in Lancashire, England. Anglezarke Reservoir has three embankments: the Charnock Embankment, the longest, is 850 yards (777 m) long and 31 feet (9.45 m) high, the Knowsley Embankment is 240 yards (219.5 m) long and 45 feet (14 m) high and the Heapey Embankment is 280 feet (85.3 m) long and 32 feet (9.75 m) high. It is fed by the River Yarrow, which has been diverted from its original course which is now covered by the Knowsley Embankment. It served the city of Liverpool before its current status as a supply mainly for Wigan. The original `Rivington Pike Scheme' was undertaken by Thomas Hawksley between 1850 and 1857 for the Liverpool Corporation Waterworks. The scheme was to construct five reservoirs and a water treatment works at the south end of Lower Rivington with a 17-mile (27 km) pipeline to storage reservoirs at Prescot. Water from two higher level reservoirs, Rake Brook and Lower Roddlesworth, was carried south in `The Goit', a channel connecting them to the reservoirs.

Upper Rivington Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Upper Rivington Reservoir is situated centrally in the Rivington chain of reservoirs, on the West Pennine Moors in Lancashire, England, between Rivington and Anglezarke. The engineer for the Rivington reservoirs was Thomas Hawksley and construction for Liverpool Corporation Waterworks took place between 1852 and 1857. The two dams of the Upper Rivington reservoir are the 292-yard (267 m) Horrobin Embankment that separates it from the lower reservoir and carries a road into the village from the west, and the 292-yard (267 m) long, 40 foot (12.2 m) high Yarrow Embankment.

Papplewick Pumping Station

Papplewick Pumping Station, situated in open agricultural land approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) by road from the Nottinghamshire village of Papplewick, was built by Nottingham Corporation Water Department between 1881 and 1884 to pump water from the Bunter sandstone to provide drinking water to the City of Nottingham, in England. Two beam engines, supplied with steam by six Lancashire boilers, were housed in Gothic Revival buildings. Apart from changes to the boiler grates, the equipment remained in its original form until the station was decommissioned in 1969, when it was replaced by four submersible electric pumps.

Lower Rivington Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Lower Rivington Reservoir is at the end of the Rivington chain of reservoirs in Lancashire, England, with Upper Rivington Reservoir to the north, and Rivington Water Treatment Works to the south.

Upper Roddlesworth Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Upper Roddlesworth Reservoir is a reservoir on the River Roddlesworth near Abbey Village in Lancashire, England.

Lower Roddlesworth Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Lower Roddlesworth Reservoir is a reservoir on the River Roddlesworth close to Abbey Village in Lancashire, England.

Rake Brook Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Rake Brook Reservoir is a reservoir fed by two streams, including the eponymous Rake Brook, a tributary of the River Roddlesworth in Lancashire, England.

William James Eames Binnie was a British civil engineer. William was the son of Alexander Binnie, the famed civil engineer and William would enter the same career. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge before completing an apprenticeship with his father's firm. His primary area of work was in hydraulic engineering and he completed works in Britain, Egypt, Nigeria, Singapore, Hong Kong and Burma on reservoirs, dams and hydro-electric power generation.

John Frederick Bateman British civil engineer

John Frederick La Trobe Bateman FRSE FRS MICE FRGS FGS FSA was an English civil engineer whose work formed the basis of the modern United Kingdom water supply industry. For more than 50 years from 1835 he designed and constructed reservoirs and waterworks. His largest project was the Longdendale Chain system that has supplied Manchester with much of its water since the 19th century. The construction of what was in its day the largest chain of reservoirs in the world began in 1848 and was completed in 1877. Bateman became "the greatest dam-builder of his generation".

Charles Hawksley Civil engineer from Nottingham, England

Charles Hawksley (1839–1917) was a British civil engineer. Hawksley was born in Nottingham, England in 1839 and was the son of civil engineer Thomas Hawksley. He studied at University College London and after graduating entered into apprenticeship with his father's firm, which had been established in 1852 and specialised in water related projects. From 1857 Hawksley was, with his father, an adviser to the Great Yarmouth Waterworks Company and in 1866 became a partner in his father's firm. Hawksley worked extensively in the water industry and clients included the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company, Sunderland and South Shields Water Company, Consett Waterworks, Weardale and Shildon District Waterworks and Durham County Water Board. Hawksley, with his father, built the Catcleugh Reservoir in Northumberland for the Newcastle and Gateshead Water Company between 1899 and 1905. In addition to his work on reservoirs, pipes and other infrastructure for the water companies he also undertook work for the Bishop Auckland District Gas Company.

Thomas Stewart was a hydraulic engineer, who was born in Scotland and died at Cape Town, South Africa. He designed the Woodhead Dam, which was named an International Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2008. He was called the "father of consulting engineering in South Africa" and the "first South African consulting engineer."

George Matthew McNaughton British engineer

Sir George Matthew McNaughton CB was a British civil engineer who specialised in hydraulic engineering. McNaughton was born in Dundee and received a degree in engineering from the University of St Andrews. He interrupted his studies to become an officer in the British Army during the First World War before he was forced to retire due to ill health. After the war he completed his degree and joined an engineering firm where his work included the Silent Valley Reservoir in Northern Ireland. In 1929 he entered government service at the Ministry of Health and eventually became the ministry's Chief Engineer. His work was recognised by an appointment as a Companion of the Order of the Bath and a knighthood. He retired in 1960 and served as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers for 1961-2.

Tunstall Reservoir lake in the United Kingdom

Tunstall Reservoir was a water supply storage reservoir completed in 1879, and now used solely to maintain minimum regulatory flows on the River Wear in northeast England. It is situated in the north Pennines of the United Kingdom, and lies 3.5 km north of the village of Wolsingham, in Weardale, County Durham. The earthen embankment dam, which impounds the reservoir, is recognized as the location where pressure grouting with cement grout was first utilized in 1876 by engineer Thomas Hawksley, to reduce leakage within the rock foundation under an earth dam. Pressure grouting has since become normal practice for construction and remediation at dams and related water resource projects.

The Grand Contour Canal in England and Wales was intended to enhance and upgrade the British canal system, but was never built. This canal was proposed in 1943, and again ten years later, by J F Pownall. Pownall observed that there was a natural 'contour' down the spine of England, around the 300 ft level that connected several of the most populated areas. He put forward the idea that this contour could be used to define the course of a large European sized canal which contained no locks except at its entry and exit points. It would also serve as a water grid capable of distributing domestic water supply around England as need arises.

James MacRitchie was Municipal Engineer to the Singapore Municipal Commission from 1883 to 1895. Singapore's oldest reservoir Macritchie Reservoir was named after him in 1922.

Liverpool Corporation Waterworks

Liverpool Corporation Waterworks and its successors have provided a public water supply and sewerage and sewage treatment services to the city of Liverpool, England. In 1625 water was obtained from a single well and delivered by cart, but as the town grew, companies supplied water to homes through pipes. There were two main companies by the 1840s, but the water supply was intermittent, and there was general dissatisfaction with the service. Liverpool Corporation decided that such an important service should be provided by a public body, and sought to take over the water supply companies.


  1. 1 2 3 Hawksley, Thomas, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. "Thomas Hawksley". Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  4. "Nottingham Water Supply – history". Archived from the original on 9 August 2007.
  5. "IGEM History".
  6. "Royal Society list of fellows".
  7. Watson, Garth (1988). The Civils. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. p. 251. ISBN   0-7277-0392-7.
  8. Bowtell, Harold D (1991). Lesser Railways of the Yorkshire Dales and the Dam Builders in the Age of Steam. Plateway Press. ISBN   1-871980-09-7.
  9. Robert William Rennison, Civil Engineering Heritage: Northern England, p.81
  10. A. Clive Houlsby, Construction and Design of Cement Grouting; A Guide to Grouting in Rock Foundations John Wiley & Sons, 1990, ISBN   0-471-51629-5
  11. Rudolph Glossop, The Invention and Development of Injection processes Part II: 1850-1960, Geotechnique, Vol. 11, 4, December 1961, p.255-279.
  12. Rudolph Glossop, p.259
  13. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved on 27 August 2011.
  14. Cemetery, Brookwood. (10 December 2007) Brookwood Cemetery press release Archived 8 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine . Retrieved on 27 August 2011.
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Charles Blacker Vignoles
President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
December 1871 – December 1873
Succeeded by
Thomas Elliot Harrison
Preceded by
Sir Frederick Bramwell
President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Succeeded by
John Robinson