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CULL, John Ernest Lelliot, (1879 - 1943)

John Cull

J. E. L. Cull, 1936-37. Past Presidents Album 1914-1966. IPENZ

Mr Cull was born in Christchurch, 19th September 1879; educated at Christchurch Boys High School (1890 - 1895), and professionally at Canterbury College School of Engineering (1896 - 1900), taking the degree B.Sc. in Engineering. He completed eighteen months in the Railway Workshops up to 1901, when he was engaged as Draughtsman and Engineer with Cutten Bros., Dunedin, on the design and erection. of gold dredges. From 1904 - 1909 he was on Professor Julian Scott's staff at Canterbury College, and after working on investigations on behalf of mining companies, in 1911-12 he was employed on the designs and in charge of construction for the Auckland main drainage scheme. From 1912-13 he was Inspecting Engineer on Auckland Harbour Works, including West Section, Queen Street Wharf, North Wall, Western Breakwater and other works. In 1914 he was appointed to the newly created post of Designing Engineer, Public Works Department, and in that capacity was responsible for many large works. He was engaged in the equipment of the Otira tunnel and was sent by the New Zealand Government to England to confer with the leading Power Plant manufacturers, and to decide on the best type of power equipment for the tunnel with its peculiar problem in which full power is required only for very short periods. Later, Mr Cull was Engineer to the Coal Commission set up to consider the full use of New Zealand coals by the Railways.

In all, his works covered a very wide field, but special mention may be made of the large steel viaducts on the East Coast Main Trunk Railway between Napier and Wairoa, including the Mohaka Viaduct, which ranks among the world's largest. Mr Cull also did much pioneering work in the investigation of the smelting of Taranaki iron sand by means of, the electric furnace.

In 1929 he returned to Canterbury College as Professor of Civil Engineering, and after the Hawke's Bay earthquake in 1931 Professor Cull was appointed by the Government to visit the area and to formulate rules to govern reconstruction and future construction to resist earthquakes. The Committee set up for this purpose under his Chairmanship prepared regulations which formed the original basis for the Code of Building By-laws subsequently produced by the New Zealand Standards Institute. He retired from the Chair of Civil Engineering at Canterbury University College as from 31st August 1942.

Professor Cull was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' in 1909, and of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1930, and was for some years a member of the New Zealand Advisory Committees of both those bodies. He was elected a Member of the (then) New Zealand Society of Civil Engineers in August 1916; was a Member of Council from 1932-34; Vice-President, 1934-36; President, 1936-37; and ex officio Member of Council, 1937~38.

He died on 20th April, 1943.

Extract from the Proceedings of the NZ Institution of Engineers, Vol 29, No 2 (July 1943), p 104