Mansergh, James (DNB12)

MANSERGH, JAMES (1834–1905), civil engineer, born on 29 April 1834 at Lancaster, was second son of John Burkit Mansergh of that town. After being educated locally and at Preston, he was sent in 1847 to Queen wood College, Hampshire ('Harmony Hall'), which he entered on the same day as Henry Fawcett [q. v.], afterwards postmaster-general. Mansergh and Fawcett edited together the 'Queenwood Chronicle,' and among their teachers were John Tyndall [q. v.] and (Sir) Edward Frankland [q. v. Suppl. I].

In 1849 Mansergh was apprenticed to Messrs. H. U. McKie and J. Lawson, engineers, of Lancaster. In 1855-9 he was engaged in Brazil as engineer to Mr. E. Price, the contractor for the Dom Pedro II railway; and on his return to England he became a partner of his former master, McKie, in Carlisle. The firm laid out first sewage-farm in England at Carlisle. The partnership was dissolved in 1860, and from 1802 to 1865 Mansergh was engaged on the construction of the Mid-Wales and the Llandilo and Carmarthen railways. In 1806 he entered into partnership with his brother-in-law, John Lawson, in Westminster. Lawson died in 1873, and thence-forward Mansergh practised alone until he took his two sons into partnership towards the end of his life.

Mansergh specialised chiefly in water-works, and in sewerage and sewage-disposal works. In accordance with advice which he had given the corporation of Birmingham in 1871 and repeated in 1890, the corporation obtained powers to construct impounding reservoirs in the valleys of tho Elan and Claerwen rivers, and an aqueduct 73½ miles in length to convey the water to Birmingham. The work was commenced in 1894, and the supply was inaugurated by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra on 21 July 1904. The complete scheme will provide 75,000,000 gallons per day for the use of Birmingham and district, after giving 27,000,000 gallons of compensation-water per day to the River Wye. Tho total cost of the works up to the present has been about five and three-quarter millions sterling. They have been described recently by Mansergh's sons (Minutes of Proc. Inst. Civ. Eng. cxc).

Mansergh also carried out sewerage and sewage-disposal for Southport, Burton-on-Trent, Coventry, Derby, and Plymouth, and water-supply works for Lancaster, Stockton, Middlesbrough, and many other places. His consulting practice and parliamentary work reached large dimensions. He appeared more than six hundred times before parliamentary committees, acted for three hundred and sixty municipalities or local authorities, wrote more than two hundred and fifty reports on sewerage and waterworks alone, and gave evidence at about three hundred public inquiries. In 1889 he reported to the Victorian government on the sewerage of Melbourne and its environs; in 1895 on a scheme for a supply of water from Lake Simcoe for the city of Toronto; and in the same year on the sewerage of Colombo, Ceylon. He prepared two schemes for the sewerage of the Lower Thames valley; to the first, in 1878, was awarded one of three premiums, while the second (prepared in conjunction with Mr. J. C. Melliss) was defeated in Parliament. He was a member of the royal commission on metropolitan water-supply in 1892-3, and supported the local government board in the London water transfer bill, 1902.

Mansergh was high sheriff of Radnorshire in 1901-2, was J.P. for that county from December 1902, and was presented with the freedom of his native city of Lancaster in March 1903. He was elected F.R.S. in 1901. An associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1859, a member in 1873, and a member of council in 1885, he was elected president for 1900-1. His presidential address (Proc. cxliii. 2) was a history of waterworks engineering. He received in 1882 a Telford medal and premium from the Institution for a paper on 'The Lancaster Waterworks Extension' (Proc. lxviii. 253). He lectured on watersupply at the School of Military Engineering, Chatham, in 1882. He was president of the engineering congress held in connection with the Glasgow exhibition of 1901. He was also a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and served on its council from 1902. He was chairman of the engineering standards committee from its inception in 1901 until his death.

Mansergh died at his residence, 51 Fitzjohn's Avenue, Hampstead, on 15 June 1905, and was buried in Hampstead cemetery. His portrait in oils, by W. M. Palin, a son-in-law, is in the possession of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

He married (1) in 1859, a daughter of Robert Lawson of Skirton, Lanes., by whom he had two sons and two daughters ; and (2) in September 1898, the widow of Nelson Elvey Irons of Tunbridge Wells.

[Minutes of Proceedings of the Inst. Civil Eng. clxi. 350; Engineering, 16 June 1905; The Times, 16 June 1905.]

W. F. S.