Dodd, Ralph (DNB00)

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DODD, RALPH (1756–1822), civil engineer, appears to have been born in 1756 in London, and after receiving the ordinary routine education he studied practical mechanical engineering, and devoted much of his attention to architecture. The earliest published work by which Dodd is known is his ‘Account of the principal Canals in the known World, with reflections on the great utility of Canals,’ which was published in London in 1795. Shortly after this he was engaged in projecting a dry tunnel from Gravesend in Kent to Tilbury in Essex. He endeavoured to demonstrate in a pamphlet which he circulated the practicability of this undertaking and the great importance of it to the two counties and to the nation at large. In 1798 he proposed to construct a canal from near Gravesend to Strood. In 1799 he published ‘Letters on the Improvement of the Port of London without making Wet Docks,’ but there is no evidence that those letters led to the adoption of any of his schemes. In 1805 he was giving great attention to the water supply of London, and in connection with this subject he published ‘Observations on Water, with a recommendation of a more convenient and extensive supply of Thames water to the metropolis and its vicinity, as a just means to counteract pestilential or pernicious vapours.’ Many striking facts were recorded in this work, and several remedies of the disgraceful state of things which then existed are recommended. The time, however, was not yet ripe enough for their adoption.

In 1815 he issued his ‘Practical Observations on the Dry Rot in Timber.’ He was a promoter of steam navigation. Dodd was injured by the bursting of a steam vessel at Gloucester. He was advised to go to Cheltenham for his health, and from want of means went on foot. He died the day after reaching Cheltenham, 11 April 1822, when only 2l. 5s. was found on his body. He left a widow, a son, George Dodd [q. v.], and two other children.

[Gent. Mag. for 1822, i. 474; Dodd's Works.]

R. H-t.