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Sir John Aird, first baronet (1833–1911) by Sir Benjamin Stone, 1897 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Aird, Sir John, first baronet (1833–1911), civil engineering contractor, was born on 3 December 1833 in Greenwich, the second son of eight children of John Aird (1800–1876), contractor, and Agnes (d. 1869), daughter of Charles Bennett of Lambeth. His grandfather Robert Aird...

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Betts, Edward Ladd (1815–1872), railway contractor, was born on 5 June 1815 at Buckland, near Dover, the eldest son of William Betts (d. 1867), contractor's agent, of Sandown, Kent, and his first wife, Elizabeth Hayward, daughter of Edward Ladd of Buckland. Betts...

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Brand, James (1831–1909), public works contractor, was born on 20 September 1831 in Montrose, Forfarshire, the son of Charles Brand (d. 1885), mason and contractor, from a Kincardine family, and his wife, Margaret Falconer. He had at least one brother. After leaving school in ...

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Brassey, Thomas (1805–1870), civil engineering contractor, was born on 7 November 1805 at Buerton, near Audlem, Cheshire, the son of John Brassey, landowner, and his wife, Elizabeth. He had two brothers and one sister. Brassey attended Mr Harting's school in Chester and then, at the age of sixteen, was apprenticed to a land surveyor and agent named ...

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Thomas Brassey (1805–1870) by George Zobel (after Frederick Newenham, in or before 1850) courtesy of the Institution of Civil Engineers Archives

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Alsager Vian

revised by Ralph Harrington

Edwards, William (1719–1789), bridge-builder, youngest son of a farmer of the same name, was born in the parish of Eglwysilan, near Caerphilly, Glamorgan. The skill which he displayed in the construction of drystone walls for his father's fields early attracted notice, and at the age of twenty he was employed to build a large iron forge at ...

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Firbank, Joseph (1819–1886), railway contractor, was born at Bishop Auckland on the south-western edge of the north-east coalfield, the son of Ralph Firbank (1788–1866), a Durham miner, and his wife, Barbara, née Thompson (1790–1874). At the age of seven he was sent to work in a colliery, and attended a night school. In 1833 he obtained employment on the permanent way, and in 1841 secured a sub-contract in connection with the ...

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James Burnley

revised by Mike Chrimes

Gibb, John (1776–1850), civil engineer and contractor, was born on 13 October 1776 at Kirkcows, near Falkirk, the son of William Gibb (1736–1791), contractor. The elder Gibb died when John was fifteen and he served an apprenticeship to a mechanic. He was then employed as contractor's assistant, and later as subordinate engineer by a relative, a ...

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Sir John Norton- Griffiths, first baronet (1871–1930) by James Kerr-Lawson © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Griffiths, Sir John Norton-, first baronet (1871–1930), public works contractor, was born on 13 July 1871, at Williton, Somerset, son of John Griffiths (1825–1891), builder, and his wife, Juliet Avery (1831–1926). He was educated at Colet Court, Kensington, and Latymer School, Edmonton. At fifteen he was articled to an architect but soon enlisted in the ...

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Grissell, Thomas (1801–1874), public works contractor, was born on 4 October 1801 at Stockwell, Surrey, the eldest of the nine children of Thomas De la Garde Grissell (1778–1847) of the East India Company's service, and his wife, Ann (d. 1847), daughter of ...

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Hooley, Edgar Purnell (1860–1942), surveyor and road builder, was born on 5 June 1860 at Brunswick Street, Swansea, the son of Charles Hooley, commercial traveller, and his wife, Elizabeth Phillips, née Purnell. Nothing is known about his education, but following a short period in the office of the surveyor to the ...

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Horne, Sir William Cornelius Van (1843–1915), railway builder and financier in Canada, was born on 3 February 1843 at Chelsea, Will county, Illinois, USA, the eldest son of Cornelius Covenhoven Van Horne, lawyer, and his second wife, Mary Minier Richards. His father's ancestors had emigrated from the ...

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Jackson, Sir John (1851–1919), civil engineer and engineering contractor, was born on 4 February 1851 at 15 Coney Street, York, the youngest of the five children of Edward Jackson (1789–1859), goldsmith, and his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of David Ruddock of Horbury, Yorkshire. They were members of the ...

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Jay, John (1805–1872), building and civil engineering contractor, was born on 22 January 1805 at Buckingham (now Buckenham Parva), Norfolk, the second son and sixth child of John Jay (1765/6–1848), builder and innkeeper, and Susannah, née Armsby (1767/8–1861). He married Esther Wilson (1806–1888)...

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Kelk, Sir John, first baronet (1816–1886), builder and public works contractor, was born in Compton Street, Soho, London, on 16 February 1816, the son of John Kelk (1781–1848) and his wife, Martha (d. 1861), daughter of Jacob Germain of Bloomsbury. The Kelk...