The London Standard/1893/Death of Mr. J. Bailey Denton
Death of Mr. J. Bailey Denton
The small number of living engineers which connect the present day with the commencement of the railway era has been still further diminished by the death of Mr. J. Bailey Denton, of Westminster, so long known in connection with the advancement of agriculture and civil engineering, who died on Sunday at Stevenage, Herts, in the 79th year of his age, having been born in November, 1814. In the 'forties Mr. Denton was connected with the late Mr. Brassey and Mr. Locke, M.P., and was associated with them in the construction of the Great Northern, the London and South-Western, the Midland, the Oxford and Cambridge, and the Hitchin and Royston Railways. In those days railway engineering was quite different from what it is now, and meant very hard work. Engineers and surveyors, when setting out lines, had frequently to be accompanied by prize-fighters, and often started work during the Summer as early as three or four o'clock in the morning, owing to the opposition manifested by landowners to railways passing through and developing their estates, and were obliged to sit up and late into the night in order to plot their daily work for Parliamentary deposit. Just about this time Mr. Denton was also concerned as a surveyor for the enclosure of Rockingham Forest, and of the numerous commons, and open fields in Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, and the Midlands.
But it was in 1842 that he came most prominently before the world, as the author of a letter which appeared in "Westminster Review," entitled "What can be done for British Agriculture?" As a result of the pamphlet by the aid of the late Sir Robert Peel, Lord Romney, and Mr. Pusey, M.P., an Act was soon afterwards obtained to enable owners of settled estates to drain and improve their properties by means of money raised by mortgages, and to charge them with the cost of permanent improvements.
For the last 40 years of his life Mr. Denton likewise devoted his attention to the storage of water, water supply, and the sewerage of towns, and, with one or two engineers who are still alive, brought into prominence the method of purifying sewage by means of land, thus doing much to prevent the pollution of our rivers. His advice on this question was largely sought, not only throughout England, but also in many European countries and in America, whilst his works on sanitary engineering and water supply in agricultural districts are recognised as standard works. Mr. Denton, who was senior partner of the firm still bearing his name in Palace Chambers, Westminster, was for more than fifty years as a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers, of the Surveyors' Institute from its commencement, of many of the learned societies of England, and was an honorary members of the Royal Agricultural Societies of Italy, Norway Sweden, and Hanover, and a Chevalier of the Mérite Agricole of France. Mr. Denton was a Magistrate for Herts for more than a quarter of a century, and resided at Stevenage, in that county.