James Davidson civil engineer
This article is part of ICE's Engineer biographies series.
DAVIDSON, James (1798-1877), civil engineer, was born in 1798, the youngest of three sons of Matthew Davidson (q.v.), master mason of Langholm. Matthew Davidson's three sons were all born in Wales and were welcomed as apprentices of Telford in London, but in the end Thomas and John gave up engineering and became surgeons.
James, however, was already sufficiently experienced and well thought of by Telford to be appointed to succeed his father on his death in 1819. He was elected a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1820.
He described the works carried out at Clacknaharry under his father's superintendence, where the ground for the lock was preloaded, a notable case study in the early development of practical soil mechanics. The Caledonian Canal was opened to shipping in October 1822, but for many years afterwards it was necessary to carry out major repairs and improvements.
James succeeded Alexander Easton (q.v.) in 1823 as resident engineer for the whole canal, at a salary of £300 p.a., but in 1829 he was advised for the sake of his health to seek a warmer climate, and he remitted his responsibilities to George May, the toll collector at Clacknaharry; when it became clear that he would be unable to return for some time, May became resident engineer.
George May died in August 1867 and was succeeded by James Davidson once more. He had returned to live with his wife, Eliza Green, at Burnfoot, near Inverness. After his death at Inverness on 30 September 1877 his estate was recorded as £990.
- 1819-1823. Caledonian Canal, eastern section Resident Engineer
- 1823-1829- Caledonian Canal, Resident Engineer 1867-1877. Caledonian Canal, Resident Engineer
This text is an extract from A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, published by ICE in 2002. Beginning with what little is known of the lives of engineers such as John Trew who practised in the Tudor period, the background, training and achievements of engineers over the following 250 years are described by specialist authors, many of whom have spent a lifetime researching the history of civil engineering.
Featured articles and news
High quality and high density homes - is it what we need or is it storing up trouble?
Government announces its intention to strengthen planning rules to protect music venues and neighbours.
National Audit Office reports that there is little evidence that PFI offers better value than other forms of contracting.
What is liquidation and how does it apply to contractors in the construction industry?
Scrutiny is placed on Carillion's controversial 2013 decision to extend subcontractor payment terms to 120 days.
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.
Sir Oliver Letwin to lead an independent review into the delays in the delivery of housing.
As Carillion collapses, read our article explaining insolvency in the construction industry.
43,000 jobs at risk as Carillion declares insolvency.