19 May-Benjamin Baker

Sir Benjamin Baker whose father was from Carlow, Ireland designed the first Aswan (Assouan)  Dam on the river Nile in Egypt, the Barrow Bridge in Ireland and many other well-known engineering projects. Benjamin Baker’s father, whose name was also Benjamin moved to Glamorgan in Wales where he worked at the ironworks at Tondu. His son Benjamin who was born on March 31st 1840 was educated at Cheltenham Grammar School. He was apprenticed to an ironworks at Neath Abbey near Swansea at the age of 16.

Baker moved to London in 1860 at the age of 20 where he began working with an engineering firm on building projects such as the Metropolitan Line, Baker Street and Waterloo railway of the London Underground. When the bridge over the river Tay in Scotland collapsed in 1878 with the loss of 75 lives Baker was called as an expert witness for the investigation.

Baker later became involved in several projects in Egypt the most famous of which is the first Aswan Dam on the river Nile. The dam which was completed in 1902, was 1950m long and almost 20m high. Baker also designed the Barrow Bridge which carries the Rosslare to Waterford line across the river Barrow from Wexford to Kilkenny. The bridge which is 650m in length is the longest railway bridge in Ireland was completed in 1906.

Baker also worked on projects in the USA and Canada. He acted as consultant on the St Louis Bridge across the Mississippi and in New York on the first tunnel under the Hudson River.

Sir Benjamin Baker died in the year 1907 On This Day.

Aswan Low Dam photo

Assouan Dam

Photo by The Library of Congress

Aswan Dam across River Nile by San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives on 2012-05-24 06:31:39

 

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