Harrison, Thomas Elliott (DNB00)

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HARRISON, THOMAS ELLIOTT (1808–1888), civil engineer, born in Sunderland on 4 April 1808, was son of William Harrison, who was engaged there in the shipping business. After a short education at Kepier grammar school, he was apprenticed to Messrs. Chapman, engineers and surveyors, in Newcastle, and soon showed remarkable efficiency. He became acquainted with George Stephenson and his son, and assisted the latter in some important engineering operations. Harrison surveyed part of the line for the London and Birmingham railway, and that of the Stanhope and Tyne railway. The latter undertaking included the well-known Victoria Bridge, with a height of 157 feet and arches of 240 feet span, the whole of which was built on Harrison's plans, under his immediate superintendence. Other engagements which he successfully carried out as railway engineer were the survey of the Newcastle and Carlisle railway, the York and Doncaster, the Hull and Selby, the Tweedmouth and Kelso, and various other lines. He was also, conjointly with Robert Stephenson, engineer for the construction of several important works, the most famous being the high level bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead. When Robert Stephenson retired from work as railway engineer, Harrison became engineer-in-chief of the York, Newcastle, and Berwick line, and the success ultimately reached was largely due to his energy and powers of organisation. In 1858 he designed and carried out the Jarrow docks, with several remarkable appliances of hydraulic power, and afterwards designed the Hartlepool docks. On 13 Jan. 1874 he delivered the inaugural address as president of the Institute of Civil Engineers. Harrison died at Newcastle on 20 March 1888.

[Times and Newcastle Daily Chronicle, 21 March 1888.]

R. E. A.