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The Life and Work of James Abernethy, C.E., F.R.S.E
Past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers by his son John S. Abernethy (1867)


The author has endeavoured to give in the pages which follow a concise review of the long life of his late father, and some account of the principal works designed and executed by him in the United Kingdom and Abroad.

These, it is hoped, will long remain as visible proofs of his industry and ability as a Harbour and Dock Engineer now that his life has closed, but as in the opinion of many friends he was scarcely so well known to his countrymen outside the pale of the Civil Engineering Profession while living, as was justified by his works, the author has felt himself called upon to record them in a Biography, and thus enable all who so desire to read of him and of his professional career at their leisure.

Moreover, the requisite materials were easily procurable from numerous diaries, and more particularly from a manuscript written shortly before his death, in which he had himself noted down the incidents he could recall, and the chief works upon which he had been engaged. With these valuable guides— easily followed by one who had enjoyed a long and close association with him—the author has been enabled to investigate and supplement from old Report and Letter Books from 1840 to the date of his decease on March 8th, 1896, all that was referred to in the manuscript, and to add such additional incidents as may be of interest from the various sources of research, and so gradually to accomplish the pleasant duty he had undertaken.

In conclusion, he trusts that no further credit is claimed for the subject of the Biography than is justly due to him. If his individuality is in any instance too prominent, there is a total absence of intention of passing over any one whose name should have been mentioned in connection with any of the particular engineering works described. Any such error, either in commission or omission, would be a course of regret.

The Author.
4, Delahay Street,
Westminster, S.W. July, 1897.


Early Days
School Days
- Cotherstone, Haddington
Early Experience as an Engineer
- London Docks, Herne Bay, Sweden, Start Point, Goole
Birkenhead, 1851-5
Blyth, 1855-61
Silloth, 1856-9
Portpatrick, 1858-64
Swansea, 1849-93
Falmouth, 1860-3
Italy—Turin and Savona Railway, 1862-6
Grand Canal Cavour, 1862-7
Austria, 1866-8
Hungary, 1866—River Theiss
Egypt—Alexandria, 1867-8
Lake Aboukir, 1887-8
The Channel Ferry, 1870-2
Newport (Mon.), 1856-85
Cardiff (Mon.)
Belgium, 1880-1
Hull, 1880-5
Manchester Ship Canal, 1880-93
A Circuit of England and Wales, and of Ireland
At Home in Thanet



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