James Walker

Civil engineer, Engineer

1781 – 1862


Who was James Walker?

James Walker FRS, was an influential Scottish civil engineer.

Born in Falkirk, he was apprenticed to his uncle Ralph Walker. Around 1800 they worked on the design and construction of London's West India and East India Docks. Later, he worked on the Surrey Commercial Docks from about 1810 onwards, remaining as engineer to the Surrey Commercial Dock Company until his death in 1862.

In 1821 Walker built his first lighthouse, the West Usk Lighthouse, near Newport, South Wales. He went on to build another 21 lighthouses.

Walker was the senior partner of the consulting engineering firm of Messrs. Walker and Burges, Burges having first became his pupil in 1811 and risen to partner in 1829. In 1832 their offices moved to 44 Parliament Street, Westminster and then to 23 George Street. In 1853 he promoted James Cooper, one of his assistants, to the partnership with the firm then being known as Messrs. Walker, Burges & Cooper.

Walker succeeded his associate Thomas Telford as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, serving from 1834 to 1845. He was also chief engineer of Trinity House, hence his considerable involvement with coastal engineering and lighthouses. He was conferred with Honorary Membership of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in 1857.

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Sep 14, 1781
  • Scotland
Oct 8, 1862

on July 23, 2013


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