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HIGGINSON, Harry Pasley (1838-1900)

Harry Pasley Higginson

Harry Pasley Higginson, ca 1876. ID: 1/2-066660-F.

Higgonson was born in England and educated in Leicester. He was apprenticed to Sir W. Fairburn from 1855 to 1859 and the following two years was employed in Russia on railway construction. In 1862 he was sent to Mauritius to lay out and construct a system of light railways and was engaged on this work until 1865, when he returned to England.

In 1867 he went to India and for the next four years was employed on the construction of canals and railways. He was elected A.M.Inst.C.E. in 1868. He returned to England in 1871 and was elected M.Inst.C.E. in 1872 he came to New Zealand as Superintending Engineer for Railways and other public works in the South Island, commencing duty on 8th March, 1872. He reported on Thames mining water supply very early. He is sometimes referred to as Inspecting Engineer. In 1873 he made proposals for harbour improvements at Westport and for coal export. One of his notable works at that time was the Waimakariri Gorge Bridge, combined road and railway. In 1878 he took up private practice in Dunedin and was responsible for the Lyttelton Waterworks, the Waimea Plains and Balclutha Bridge, also in 1879 for the repair and extension of the Rangitata Bridge on solid steel piles after its damage during the great flood of 1876. With C. Napier Bell and W. N. Blair he was a member of a commission which investigated the flood of 1878 in the Clutha River and recommended works for the safety of Balclutha. He then became Engineer to the Inchclutha River and Road Board and carried out the protection and draining of the Island. In 1880 he surveyed a line for a proposed railway to serve the Waikaka Valley via Tapanui [not built]. In 1882 he was awarded the Telford premium by the Institution of Civil Engineers for his paper on the Kawarau Suspension Bridge [between Gibbston and Arrowtown]. In the same year he was appointed Chief Engineer for the design and construction of the Wellington-Manawatu Railway, which position he held until 1886. Next year he was appointed Engineer and Manager of the Wellington Gas Works, from which he did not retire until 1898. During 1888 he was employed by the Petone Borough for a short time in connection with their roads and drainage. He died in Wellington two years after his retirement.

Extract taken from: F. W. Furkert, Early New Zealand Engineers, Reed, Wellington, 1953, pp.189-90