James Walker (engineer)
14 September 1781|
|Died||8 October 1862(aged 81)|
|Education||University of Glasgow|
|Institutions||Institution of Civil Engineers (president), Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Fellow of the Royal Society of London|
|Practice name||Walker & Burges|
Born in Law Wynd in Falkirk, the eldest of five children of John Walker and his wife Margaret, James was educated at the local school and was sent to Glasgow University in October 1794, aged 13. He studied Latin and Greek for two years, and logic during his third year. During his final two years he studied natural philosophy and mathematics, taking the first prize.
He returned to Falkirk in May 1799, aged 18, and his family discussed a career in business or law. But, by chance, in the summer of 1800, he was asked to accompany his ill brother-in-law on a sea journey to London. Once there, he visited his uncle Ralph Walker in Blackwall, intending to return to Scotland after a week. However, Ralph discussed his work at the West India Docks, and was so impressed by his young nephew’s grasp of engineering that he immediately took him on as his apprentice.
Around 1800 they worked on the design and construction of London's West India and East India Docks. At the age of 21 he took on his first engineering work in his own right: the construction of Commercial Road in London, connecting the West India Docks to the warehouses of the City. Later, he worked on the Surrey Commercial Docks from about 1810 onwards, remaining as engineer to the Surrey Commercial Dock Company until his death in 1862.
Walker was the senior partner of the consulting engineering firm of Messrs. Walker and Burges (of Limehouse), Burges having first became his pupil in 1811 and risen to partner in 1829. In 1832 their offices moved to 44 Parliament Street, Westminster (which lies at southern end of Whitehall) and then to 23 George Street. In 1853 he promoted James Cooper, one of his assistants, to the partnership with the firm then being known as Messrs. Walker, Burges & Cooper.
Walker succeeded his associate Thomas Telford as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, serving from 1834 to 1845. One of his first major roles as President was to oversee the choice of three new harbours to serve Edinburgh: a major extension to Leith Docks; a new harbour at Trinity; or a new harbour at Granton. The choice resulted in the building of Granton Harbour.
He was also chief engineer within Trinity House, hence his considerable involvement with coastal engineering and lighthouses. He was conferred with Honorary Membership of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.
Projects and other work
Walker worked on various engineering projects, including:
- Greenland Dock, London (c. 1808 – c. 1862)
- Vauxhall Bridge, London (1816, since demolished)
- Poplar Workhouse, London (c. 1815 - c. 1817), designer 
- West Usk Lighthouse, near Newport, South Wales
- Survey for the Leeds and Selby Railway (1829)
- Brunswick Wharf Warehouse, Blackwall, London (1832-34) designer, for the East India Dock Company and built by contractor Messrs. Horne & Gates of Poplar
- Survey for the Leipzig–Dresden Railway (1835)
- Hull and Selby Railway (survey and consulting engineer, 1834, 1836–40).
- Start Point lighthouse, Devon (1836)
- Maplin Sands Lighthouse (1838)
- Advice on alignment of Hereford and Gloucester Canal (1838)
- Victoria Viaduct (or Bridge) on the Durham Junction Railway (1838)
- Improvements to Aberdeen Harbour (1838)
- Wolf Rock beacon and lighthouse (1840–1862)
- Plans for River Thames embankments, later known as 'Walker's lines,' upon which the present Thames and Victoria Embankments are largely based (c. 1842)
- South Foreland Lighthouse rebuilt with a taller tower (1841-1842)
- Trevose Head Lighthouse (1844–1847)
- River Severn and South Wales Railway (1845), a report that blocked Brunel's plans for railway bridges across the River Severn.
- Gunfleet Lighthouse, off Frinton-on-Sea, Essex (1850)
- Design of the East Bute Dock, Cardiff (1855)
- Whitby Lighthouse - the twin lights of Whitby North and Whitby South lighthouses, near Ling Hill, High Whitby (1857–58)
- Bishop Rock lighthouse (1858)
- Needles Lighthouse, Isle of Wight (1859)
- Completion of the Caledonian Canal (1838–1848)
- Alderney breakwater, Channel Islands (1847) and harbour (1862)
- St Catherine’s Harbour, Jersey, Channel Islands (1847–1856)
- Improvements to navigation in the River Tyne (1853–1861)
- Houses of Parliament, consulting engineer for the Clock Tower (also known as Big Ben) as well as the Victoria Tower and Central Tower (1836–1859), cofferdam for the riverside foundations and terrace (1837–49)
Walker was also involved in designing a dock harbour in Hamburg (1845, with William Lindley and Heinrich Hübbe). He was also involved in the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, preparing a report on the merits of stationary and locomotive engines along with other notable engineers of the day. He was also for a long period consulting engineer to the Board of Admiralty.
- Jones, Stephen K. (2009). Brunel in South Wales. II: Communications and Coal. Stroud: The History Press. p. 78. ISBN 9780752449128.
- West Usk Lighthouse
- Skempton, Professor Sir Alec, ed. (2002). A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland: 1500–1830. ICE publishing. pp. 755–756. ISBN 072772939X.
- "Grace's Guide – British Industrial History". Archived from the original on 3 November 2013.
- "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography".
- William, Thomas (1900). Life of Sir James Nicholas Douglass. London: Longman, Green and Co. p. 65.
The firm of which this eminent man was head, whose offices were in Great George Street, Westminster, had long been carried on under the style of Walker, Burges & Cooper...Mr. James Cooper, the junior partner
- "The Whitby Gazette". May 22, 1858. p. 4.
Messrs. Walker, Burgess, and Cooper, of Great George Street, London, are the engineers
- "Institution of Civil Engineers, Past Presidents". Archived from the original on 29 March 2015.
- Watson, Garth (1988). The Civils. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. p. 251. ISBN 0-7277-0392-7.
- Stranger on the Shore, by James Gracies ISBN 1-902831-535
- "'Poplar High Street: South side', in Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs". pp. 77–90.
- "Lighthouse management : the report of the Royal Commissioners on Lights, Buoys, and Beacons, 1861, examined and refuted Vol. 2". pp. 97, 98.
- The North Eastern Railway; its rise and development, William Weaver Tomlinson, 1915, p. 203, online version via www.archive.org
- "'Brunswick Wharf', in Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs". pp. 593–600.
- "The Leipzig-Dresden railway line through time". Archived from the original on 11 November 2013.
Walker, embarked on his journey to Saxony and arrived in Leipzig on 13 October 1835 with his assistant, John Hawkshaw. They spent nearly two weeks looking over the countryside between Leipzig and Dresden
- See within Hull and Selby Railway
- "Lighthouse management". p. 86.
- "Messrs. Mitchell and Sons Screw-pile Battery, and Light-House", Belfast News Letter, p. 1, Jan 30, 1844,
That the first of such foundations was fixed on the Maplin Sands by these engineers (Messrs. Mitchel and Son), in the summer of 1838 by order of the corporation of Trinity House, at the recommendation of their engineer, James Walker, Esq. F.R.S., &c. Who has since erected on it the Maplin lighthouse
- "Lighthouse management". p. 79.
- "Lighthouse management". pp. 92, 93.
- Jones, 2009 & II, pp. 78–81
- "Lighthouse management". p. 77.
- "Lighthouse management". p. 67.
- "Lighthouse management". p. 68.
- "Lighthouse management". p. 91.
- "Lighthouse management". p. 82.
- "Alderney Harbour... showing progress of works according to report of Messors Walker, Burgess and Cooper". Ref: FO 925/4584 The National Archives, Kew. 12 April 1862.
- "skyscrapernews.com". Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- "Engineering Timelines – Palace of Westminster". Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013.
To deal with the foundations and terrace, a 920ft long cofferdam was constructed in the river to the design of Walker & Burgess. It remained in position until 1849
- ACCOUNTS AND PAPERS: SEVENTEEN VOLUMES: Army Navy Ordnance : Session 15 November 1837 – 16 August 1838 VOL. XXXVII (Report). Retrieved 8 November 2013.
- "Report to the directors of the Liverpool and Manchester railway: on the comparative merits of locomotive and fixed engines, as a moving power, James Walker, Robert Stephenson, Joseph Locke, Henry Booth, 1831".
- Appletons' annual cyclopaedia and register of important events of the year: 1862. New York: D. Appleton & Company. 1863. p. 693.
- Smith, Denis (2001). Civil Engineering Heritage. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. p. 103. ISBN 0-7277-2876-8.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to James Walker (engineer).|
- Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Volume 12, Royal Society (Great Britain), 1863, "Obituary Notices of Fellows Deceased", p. lxiv–lxvi, google books link
|Professional and academic associations|
| President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
January 1835 – January 1845