William Kelly Wallace

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William Kelly Wallace
Born 1883
Died 1969
Nationality Irish
Occupation Engineer
Engineering career
Discipline Civil
Institutions Institution of Civil Engineers (president),
Wallace's name on the list of Institution of Civil Engineers presidents, at their One Great George Street headquarters

William Kelly Wallace (1883–1969) was an Irish railway engineer who joined the Northern Counties Committee and later became Chief Civil Engineer of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS).


William Kelly Wallace was born in 1883. He joined the Midland Railway Northern Counties Committee (NCC) railway in Ireland in 1906.

Although primarily a civil engineer, he was appointed to the joint positions of Locomotive Engineer and Civil Engineer on the NCC in 1922 when Bowman Malcolm retired.

In collaboration with the Manager, James Pepper, he initiated a renewal programme in which, not only were new locomotives built, but suitable classes of older locomotives would be "heavily rebuilt", in the main following the style of the Midland Railway and, later, the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS).

As Civil Engineer, Wallace took over the task of completing the new bridge across the River Bann at Coleraine, County Londonderry from Bowman Malcolm. This opened for traffic in March 1924. He oversaw the installation of colour light signalling at York Road station, Belfast which was commissioned in 1926. This was the first of its kind in Ireland and among the earliest large installations in the United Kingdom.

Wallace devised an innovative method of constructing reinforced concrete bridges using T-section pre-cast concrete beams carried on reinforced concrete piers. Four beams created the bridge deck on to which ballasted track could be directly laid.

In September 1930 he left the NCC to become Chief Stores Superintendent (Euston) on the LMS. In 1934 he became Chief Civil Engineer. Wallace was an advocate of British Standard track and flat-bottom rails and among the works he carried out were extensive trials of flat-bottom track with two types of baseplate on the former Midland and Caledonian mainlines. He also initiated an assessment of continuously welded rail (CWR).

Wallace was known for having a dry sense of humour and was popular with his colleagues.

He was appointed President of the Institution of Civil Engineers for 1955–56[1] (having earlier chaired the first meeting of its associated society, the British Geotechnical Society in 1949),[2] and he received an honorary doctorate of science from Queen's University, Belfast in 1956.

William Kelly Wallace died in Surrey in May 1969.


  1. ^ Watson, Garth (1988), The Civils, London: Thomas Telford Ltd, p. 253, ISBN 0-7277-0392-7 
  2. ^ Craig, Bill (23 November 1998). "Bill Craig, current British Geotechnical Society chairman, looks at the development of the society as it celebrates its 50th anniversary". New Civil Engineer. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Currie, J.R.L. (1974) The Northern Counties Railway, Volume 2: 1903–1972, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, ISBN 0-7153-6530-4
  • Ellis, Hamilton (1970) London Midland & Scottish, A Railway in Retrospect, Ian Allan Ltd., Shepperton, ISBN 0-7110-0048-4

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
David Mowat Watson
President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
November 1955 – November 1956
Succeeded by
Harold John Frederick Gourley