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Biographies

McLEOD, Donald Archibald, (1835 - ?)

Donald McLeod was born in Scotland in 1835. He trained under Alexander Gibb, Civil Engineer in Aberdeen, until 1857. In 1859 he was engaged on railway construction in the Highlands of Scotland. Later, and until 1864, he was employed on railway and general engineering work at Dingwall. His work covered canals, harbour and water works. Early in 1865 he was selected for the position of Provincial Engineer in Wellington and was gazetted at £500 per annum on 4th February, 1865. He joined the Public Works Department on 16th December, 1872, when J. R. Baird became Acting Provincial Engineer, and was employed on railway construction in North Otago. When Oamaru, in 1875, decided to proceed with considerable works and advertised in Australia and New Zealand for an engineer at £1,000 per annum, he was selected, "although a local man".

In 1876 he recommended the scheme put forward some time previously by Barr and Oliver for a water supply from the Waitaki River, and with certain modifications and elaboration of details it was adopted. It was most ambitious in view of the small population, even at its original estimate of £65,000, but it eventually cost £145,833. Perhaps £20,000 of the difference was for work not proposed at the initiation. In 1877 McLeod advised Timaru Borough Council concerning its Pareora water scheme. The Oamaru contractor went bankrupt in 1878 and McLeod then took over the personal control, working largely through sub-contractors and piece workers. His salary was reduced to £750 on account of a slump. On completion of the works charges amounted to £10,000 per annum, largely due to loans at 7 per cent, while the population was under 4,000. At one stage a sub-committee walked over all the works and interviewed workers and others and took evidence and reported favourably in spite of the great excess cost, and later Mr H P Higginson, MInstCE, Superintending Engineer of the Public Works Department, made a special report and said that the work was well engineered and the scheme sound. Oamaru was now financially embarrassed, and McLeod's salary having been reduced to £500 he resigned in July, 1880, just shortly before the turning on of the water. The works included five tunnels of 11, 28, 46 and 3 chains respectively, 6 feet wide and 6 feet 6 inches high; and six flumes 200, 450, 600, 450, 270 and 500 feet in length, some of which were over 80 feet high and with 60 foot spans.

In 1882 McLeod reported on a scheme of water supply for Christchurch by gravitation from artesian wells close to the Waimakariri River, 13½ miles from and 280 feet above the town; 3,600,000 gallons per day. This was advanced as an alternative to Messrs. Dobsons' pumping scheme from wells in the city, with boosting pumps giving 360 feet head for fire fighting. McLeod's scheme was not adopted. He was engaged by the Public Works Department during the construction of the Inch Valley Lime Kilns railway from July, 1898, to June, 1899.

 

Reference:

Furkert, F W; Early New Zealand Engineers, A H & A W Reed, 1953, page 217