Sir Alexander Richardson Binnie

ar-binnie-photoBorn in London in 1839 he was a British civil engineer responsible for several major engineering projects, including several associated with crossings of the River Thames in London.

Educated privately, he was articled in 1858 to Mr. J. W. Flanagan, and, on his death, to Mr. J. F. La Trobe Bateman

In 1867, he secured a position as Executive Engineer in the Public Works Department of India. During his period of service in conjunction with Major Lucey Smith, he made discoveries of coal in the Chanda District which led to the construction of a railway, and the opening up of the coalfield, for which he received the commendation of the Government of India.

In 1875 he returned to England as Chief Engineer for Waterworks for the City of Bradford, where he was concerned with the repair and construction of reservoirs and large water supply projects. One of the last acts he performed before leaving Bradford was the preparation of the plans and sections for the Nidd Valley Water Scheme, after a long and protracted controversy, this was adopted by the Corporation, and was carried through Parliament .

Although these works with their modifications were subsequently carried out by his successor, Mr. James Watson. He was then offered the post of Chief Engineer to the London County Council in 1890, a post he held until 1902.  As chief engineer for the London County Council, his design feats included the first Blackwall Tunnel (1897) and Greenwich foot tunnel (1902) and, further upstream, Vauxhall Bridge (1906).  

He was knighted in 1897 by Queen Victoria for services to engineering and elected President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1905.

He also designed, with Sir Benjamin Baker, major parts of London’s drainage system, including east London sewage treatment works at Crossness and Barking on both the south and north sides of the Thames.   These were sited at the ends of the sewer outfalls created by Sir Joseph Bazalgette during the late 19th century.

In conjunction with Sir Benjamin Baker, he reported on the reconstruction of and additions to the main drainage of London.  He also projected and carried through Parliament the necessary works for the widening of the Strand and the important thoroughfares of Aldwych and Kingsway, connecting it with Holborn.  Sir Alexander further assisted the London County Council in Parliament in many controversies which arose in connexion with the various proposals to carry the tramways from South London over Westminster Bridge and along the Victoria Embankment.

On the completion of his engagement with the London County Council, Sir Alexander commenced private practice in Westminster, in which he was joined by his eldest son and later by Mr. Deacon.  When the question of the transfer of the Metropolitan Water Companies to the Water Board occurred, he acted as principal Engineering adviser to the Board.

His water expertise also took him to Ireland & Malta. In addition to this he visited Petrograd to report of the water supply and drainage of that City.  Then in 1913 be visited Canada and reported on water supply for the City of Ottawa.

After this illustrious career – he died at the age of 78 in Beer, that’s not the fluid but a town in the county of Devon



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