Sir Joseph William Bazalgette - Encyclopedia

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SIR JOSEPH WILLIAM BAZALGETTE (1819-1891), English engineer, was born at Enfield on the 28th of March 1819. At the age of seventeen he was articled to an engineer, and a few years later he began to practise successfully on his own account. His name is best known for the engineering works he carried out in London, especially for the construction of the main drainage system and the Thames embankment. In 1848 the control of London drainage, which had hitherto been divided among eight distinct municipal bodies, was consolidated under twelve commissioners, who were in 1849 superseded by a second commission. Under the latter Bazalgette accepted an appointment which he continued to hold under the three successive commissions which in the course of a year or two followed the second one, and when finally in 1855 these bodies were replaced by the Metropolitan Board of Works, he was at once appointed its chief engineer. His plans were ready, but the work was delayed by official obstruction and formality until 1858. Once begun, however, it was vigorously pushed on, and in 1865 the system was formally opened. It consisted of 83 m. of large intercepting sewers, draining more than loo sq. m. of buildings, and calculated to deal with 420 million gallons a day. The cost was 4,600,000. Almost simultaneously Bazalgette was engaged on the plans for the Thames embankment. The section between Westminster and Vauxhall on the Surrey side was built between 1860 and 1869, and the length between Westminster and Blackfriars was declared open by the prince of Wales in 1870. The Chelsea embankment followed in 1871-1874, and in 1876 Northumberland Avenue was formed. The total outlay on the scheme exceeded 2,000,000. Bazalgette was also responsible for various other engineering works in the metropolitan area, designing, for example, new bridges at Putney and Battersea, and the steam ferry between north and south Woolwich. He also prepared plans for a bridge over the river near the Tower and for a tunnel under it at Blackwall, but did not live to see either of these projects carried out. He died on the 15th of March 1891 at Wimbledon.

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