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Biographies

WALKDEN, Charles, ( 1824 - 1908 )

Charles Walkden, surveyor and engineer. Nothing is known in New Zealand, of his birth and education. He is thought to have been born and trained in England.

He had worked in Austria for 12 years and also in Denmark where he supervised railway construction. He married Mary Vincent Kein. And they had 2 daughters and a son and possibly 2 other children.

He arrived in New Zealand with his wife and five children on board the ship "Harvest Home" on the 10 December 1871, and landed at Lyttelton, the port of Christchurch.

He was appointed surveyor to the Avon Roads Board in January 1874 and City Surveyor (Engineer) to the Christchurch City Council in July 1874 at a salary of £300 with an additional allowance of £30 for horse forage. The City of Christchurch is traversed by two rivers and he was responsible for the design of 9 bridges across these rivers. 3 were brick arch, 2 timber arch, 2 cast iron arch, and 2 timber trestle. Some of these bridges are still in service. In addition he was responsible for much of the initial roading and drainage of the City. He sank artesian wells, and constructed underground water tanks for fire fighting.

He retired from the Council employment in September 1896. No record has been found of his subsequent activities.

According to his record in the MacDonald Biographies he died 20 July 1908 at age 84 years. However there is no record of this in the New Zealand Registrar-General’s death indexes.

References:

  • F W Furkert, W L Newnham Ed (1953) Early New Zealand Engineers;
  • MacDonald Biographies, W 48, Canterbury Museum;
  • Ince (1998), A City of Bridges;
  • Donaldson A history of Municipal Engineering in Christchurch, 1850 - 1980, (both latter published by the Christchurch City Council).

William. H. Pitt

This essay appears in the Biographic Dictionary of Civil Engineers, Vol 2. (ICE, London)