Mylne, Robert

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b. 1733 Edinburgh, Scotland d. 1811
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Scottish engineer, architect and bridge-builder.
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Mylne was the eldest son of Thomas Mylne, Surveyor to the City of Edinburgh. Little is known of his early education. In 1754, at the age of 21, he left Edinburgh by sea and journeyed to Rome, where he attended the Academy of St Luke. There he received the first prize for architecture. In 1759 he left Rome to travel back to England, where he arrived in time for the competition then going ahead for the design and building of a new bridge across the Thames at Blackfriars. Against 68 other competitors, Mylne won the competition; the work took some ten years to complete.
In 1760 he was appointed Engineer and Architect to the City of London, and in 1767 Joint Engineer to the New River Company together with Henry Mill, who died within a few years to leave Mylne to become Chief Engineer in 1770. Thus for the next forty years he was in charge of all the works for the New River Company between Clerkenwell and Ware, the opposite ends of London's main water supply. By 1767 he had also been appointed to a number of other important posts, which included Surveyor to Canterbury Cathedral and St Paul's Cathedral. In addition to undertaking his responsibilities for these great public buildings, he designed many private houses and villas all over the country, including several buildings for the Duke of Argyll on the Inverary Castle estate.
Mylne was also responsible for the design of a great number of bridges, waterworks and other civil engineering works throughout Britain. Called in to advise on the Norwich city waterworks, he fell out with Joseph Bramah in a somewhat spectacular dispute.
For much of his life Mylne lived at the Water House at the New River Head at Islington, from which he could direct much of the work on that waterway that came under his supervision. He also had residences in New Bridge Street and, as Clerk of Works, at Greenwich Hospital. Towards the end of his life he built himself a small house at Amwell, a country retreat at the outer end of the New River. He kept a diary from 1762 to 1810 which includes only brief memoranda but which shows a remarkable diligence in travelling all over the country by stagecoach and by postchaise. He was a freemason, as were many of his family; he married Mary Home on 10 September 1770, with whom he had ten children, four of whom survived into adulthood.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Fellow of the Royal Society 1767.
Further Reading
Dictionary of National Biography, London.
A.E.Richardson, 1955, Robert Mylne, 1733–1811, Engineer and Architect, London: Batsford.
IMcN

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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