Particularly associated with ports and railways in Scotland and northern England, Meik fathered two prominent engineering sons: Patrick Meik and Charles Meik. The firm they founded remains active, later known as Halcrow Group Limited, taking its name from Sir William Halcrow, who joined the company in the early years of the 20th century.
Educated at the High School and University of Edinburgh, Thomas Meik worked for two years with a firm of millwrights named Moodie and was then apprenticed to John Steedman, an engineer and contractor who was working in Glasgow on the Hutcheson Bridge (designed by Robert Stevenson, grandfather of author Robert Louis Stevenson).
River Wear Commission
In 1845, at the age of 33, Meik was appointed engineer to the River Wear Commission (responsible for maritime works around Sunderland). In 1859, the commission took over the construction of the Hendon Dock on the south side of the Wear, and Meik was responsible for the entire works (the task included a grain warehouse and a lighthouse – which, although relocated when the South Pier was shortened in 1983, still stands today). Just a few miles further north, he was also consulting engineer to Blyth Harbour from 1862.
In 1868, he entered into partnership with William David Nisbet (1837-1897) in Sunderland and Edinburgh. Commissions included a rail freight link, the Hylton, Southwick and Monkwearmouth Railway, transporting coal from collieries sited along the line to the nearby port at Sunderland. The railway was subsequently acquired by the North Eastern Railway. However, later railway designs were to prove more successful for Meik. In Scotland he designed a rail link to Eyemouth, an extension to the Forfar to Brechin line, the Newburgh and North Fife Railway and the East Fife Central Railway.
The partnership with Nisbet was dissolved in 1875 and Meik formed a new partnership with his sons. Work included the Scottish ports of Ayr, Burntisland and Bo'ness, and the firm acted as consulting engineers to the new dock at Silloth for the North British Railway.
He retired in 1888 and died at his home in Newbattle Terrace in Edinburgh in 1896 aged 84, leaving his business in the hands of his sons, Patrick and Charles. He was buried in Duddingston Kirkyard.