Bell, Imrie

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b. 1836 Edinburgh, Scotland
d. 21 November 1906 Croydon, Surrey, England
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Scottish civil engineer who built singular and pioneering structures.
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Following education at the Royal High School of Edinburgh, Bell served an apprenticeship with a Mr Bertram, engineer and shipwright of Leith, before continuing as a regular pupil with Bell and Miller, the well-known civil engineers of Glasgow. A short period at Pelton Colliery in County Durham followed, and then at the early age of 20 Bell was appointed Resident Engineer on the construction of the Meadowside Graving Dock in Glasgow.
The Meadowside Dry Dock was opened on 28 January 1858 and was a remarkable act of faith by the proprietors Messrs Tod and McGregor, one of the earliest companies in iron shipbuilding in the British Isles. It was the first dry dock in the City of Glasgow and used the mouth of the river Kelvin for canting ships; at the time the dimensions of 144×19×5.5m depth were regarded as quite daring. This dock was to remain in regular operation for nearly 105 years and is testimony to the skills of Imrie Bell and his colleagues.
In the following years he worked for the East India Railway Company, where he was in charge of the southern half of the Jumna Railway Bridge at Allahabad, before going on to other exciting civil engineering contracts in India. On his return home, Bell became Engineer to Leith Docks, and three years later he became Executive Engineer to the States of Jersey, where he constructed St Helier's Harbour and the lighthouse at La Corbiere—the first in Britain to be built with Portland cement. In 1878 he rejoined his old firm of Bell and Miller, and ultimately worked from their Westminster office. One of his last jobs in Scotland was supervising the building of the Great Western Road Bridge in Glasgow, one of the beautiful bridges in the West End of the city.
Bell retired from business in 1898 and lived in Surrey for the rest of his life.
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Bibliography
1879–80, "On the St Helier's Harbour works", Transactions of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland 23.
Further Reading
Fred M.Walker, 1984, Song of the Clyde, Cambridge: PSL.
FMW

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

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