Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Trubshaw, James

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793738Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 57 — Trubshaw, James1899Edward Irving Carlyle

TRUBSHAW, JAMES (1777–1853), engineer, born at Mount Pleasant (now Colwich) Priory in Staffordshire on 13 Feb. 1777, was the son of James Trubshaw, a stonemason and builder of Colwich, by his second wife, Elizabeth, daughter of John Webb of Levedale. He was educated at a school at Rugeley. At the age of sixteen, through the father of Sir Richard Westmacott (1775–1856) [q. v.], he obtained employment at Fonthill Abbey, the residence of William Beckford (1759–1844) [q. v.], which was then in course of erection, at Buckingham Palace, and at Windsor Castle. In 1795 he obtained employment in the construction of Wolseley Bridge, near Colwich, which his father had been commissioned to rebuild. After his father's death on 13 April 1808 he commenced business on his own account at Stone, and was fortunate enough to attract the attention of Mrs. Sneyd, a lady residing in the neighbourhood, who commissioned him to rebuild Ashcombe Hall. The manner in which he carried out this undertaking procured him other employments and established his reputation locally.

In 1827 he undertook to construct the Grosvenor Bridge over the Dee at Chester, after the design of Thomas Harrison (1744–1829) [q. v.] The bridge consisted of a single arch of two hundred feet span, and its construction was pronounced by Thomas Telford [q. v.] and other leading engineers to be impracticable. The first stone was laid in October 1827 and the bridge opened in December 1833. Models of the bridge, illustrative of the methods of construction employed, were presented by Trubshaw to the Society of Civil Engineers, of which he was a member. Among the buildings erected by Trubshaw were Ilam Hall, near Ashbourne, after the design of John Shaw (1776–1832) [q. v.], and Weston House in Warwickshire, after the design of Edward Blore [q. v.] He constructed the Exeter Bridge over the Derwent at Derby, opened in October 1850, a work which presented peculiar difficulties on account of the sudden floods with which it was assailed, and the quicksands encountered in the middle of the river. He was also successful in restoring the church tower of Wyburnbury in Cheshire to the perpendicular, from which it had declined more than five feet. To effect this he employed specially constructed gouges, with which he removed the earth under the higher side. He was for a time engineer to the Trent and Mersey Canal Company, and their works bear many traces of his originality and skill.

Trubshaw died on 28 Oct. 1853 at Colwich, and was buried in the churchyard. In 1800 he married Mary, youngest daughter of Thomas Bott of Stone. By her he had three sons and three daughters. Their eldest son, Thomas, born on 4 April 1802, was an architect of considerable ability; he died on 7 June 1842. Their daughter, Susanna Trubshaw, was the author of a volume of ‘Poems’ (Stafford, 1863, 8vo). In 1874 she edited ‘Wayside Inns’ (Stafford, 8vo), a selection of poems and essays, partly of her own composition, and in 1876 published ‘Family Records’ (Stafford, 8vo).

[Susanna Trubshaw's Family Records; Memoir by John Miller in Gent. Mag. 1854, i. 97–101.]

E. I. C.