Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Low, William

LOW, WILLIAM (1814–1886), civil engineer, born at Rothesay, Bute, 11 Dec. 1814. After serving a regular pupilage under Peter Macquiston, civil engineer and surveyor, Glasgow, he was engaged under Brunel in the construction of the Great Western Railway. Upon the completion of that work he returned to Glasgow, and entered into partnership with his former master, which continued until the death of the latter about 1847. Low then started in business on his own account at Wrexham, where he had a large practice as a colliery engineer. For many years he had charge of the Vron colliery, near Cefn, Denbighshire, and he was also a colliery proprietor in South Wales. He was greatly interested in the Channel tunnel, and in 1867 he had an interview with the Emperor Napoleon, shortly after which a company was formed, of which Lord Richard Grosvenor was chairman. Sir John Hawkshaw and Mr. James Brunlees were afterwards associated with Low in the engineering department, but the outbreak of the Franco-German war put an end to the scheme for a time. It was resumed in 1882 by Sir Edward Watkin. Low was elected a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in December 1867, and in 1873 he contributed the results of his investigations on the subject of the Channel tunnel in the course of a discussion on Prestwich's paper on the geological aspects of the question (Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. xxxvii. 147). In the same year he published a tract ‘On the Ventilation of the Channel Tunnel after completion.’ He gave much attention to the question of railway communication with India, and in conjunction with George Thomas he published in 1871 a tract, ‘The proposed England and India Railway,’ and in 1876 ‘Considerations respecting the Regeneration of Turkey,’ which contained a proposal for a railway from Constantinople to Kurachee. He was also the author of ‘A Letter to Lord John Russell explanatory of a Financial Scheme for extending Railways in Ireland,’ 1850. Some years previous to his death an attack of paralysis compelled him to relinquish all active work. He died on 10 July 1886 in West Cromwell Road, London, and was buried in Brompton cemetery, where there is a monument to him. He was J.P. for the county of Denbigh.

[Authorities quoted; obit. notice in Times, 16 July 1886, and private information.]

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