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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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Austin, Henry (1811/12–1861), civil engineer and sanitarian, was the son of William Austin, medical practitioner, of Bloomsbury Square, London. Two sisters and at least one brother survived to adulthood. Austin was a pupil of Robert Stephenson, with whom he worked on the London and Birmingham and London and Blackwall railways...

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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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Burt family (per. c. 1830–1964), building contractors and civil engineers, achieved prominence with John Mowlem (1788–1868), contractor. He was born at Carrants Court Cottages, Swanage, Dorset, on 12 October 1788, the third child and eldest son of John Mowlem (1751–1837), quarryman, of a family long established there, and his wife, ...

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D'A. Power

revised by Richard Hankins

Corfield, William Henry (1843–1903), sanitarian, born on 14 December 1843 at Shrewsbury, was the eldest son of Thomas Corfield, chemist, and his wife, Jane Brown. Educated at Cheltenham grammar school, he gained a demyship in natural science at Magdalen College, Oxford, and matriculated on 12 October 1861; he gained a first class in mathematical moderations in 1863. While studying at ...

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G. C. Boase

revised by Mike Chrimes

Dargan, William (1799–1867), railway contractor, was born at Crossleigh, Queen's county, on 28 February 1799, the son of Patrick Dargan (1755/6–1833), a tenant farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth (1770/71–1813). He had at least three brothers and three sisters who survived to adulthood. After attending a school at ...

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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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Thomas Foley 1617–1677 by William Trabute, 1670 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Foley family (per. c. 1620–1716), ironmasters and government contractors, traces its origins to Richard [ii] Foley (1579/80–1657), baptized on 28 March 1580 at Dudley, Worcestershire. His father, Richard [i] Foley, was a nailer, an occupation which at this date provided a decent living and in which ...

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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 ...