1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cubitt, Sir William

21629061911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 7 — Cubitt, Sir William

CUBITT, SIR WILLIAM (1785–1861), English engineer, was born in 1785 at Dilham in Norfolk, where his father was a miller. After serving an apprenticeship of four years (1800–1804) as a joiner and cabinetmaker at Stalham, he became associated with an agricultural-machine maker, named Cook, who resided at Swanton. In 1807 he patented self-regulating sails for windmills, and in 1812 he entered the works of Messrs Ransome of Ipswich, where he soon became chief engineer, and ultimately a partner. Meanwhile, the subject of the employment of criminals had been much in his thoughts; and the result was his introduction of the treadmill about 1818. In 1826 he removed to London, where he gained a very large practice as a civil engineer. Among his works were the Oxford canal, the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction Canal, the improvement of the river Severn, the Bute docks at Cardiff, the Black Sluice drainage and its outfall sluice at Boston harbour, the Middlesborough docks and coal drops in the Tees, and the South-Eastern railway, of which he was chief engineer. The Hanoverian government consulted him about the harbour and docks at Harburg; the water-works of the city of Berlin were constructed under his immediate superintendence; he was asked to report on the construction of the Paris & Lyons railway; and he was consulting engineer for the line from Boulogne to Amiens. Among his later works were two floating landing stages at Liverpool, and the bridge for carrying the London turnpike across the Medway at Rochester. In 1851, when he was president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, he was knighted for his services in connexion with the buildings erected in Hyde Park for the exhibition of that year. He retired from active work in 1858, and died on the 13th of October 1861 at his house on Clapham Common, London. His son, Joseph Cubitt (1811–1872), was trained under him, and was engineer of various railways, including the Great Northern, London, Chatham & Dover, and part of the London & South-Western.