Bateman, John Frederick La Trobe

Bateman, John Frederick La Trobe
b. 30 May 1810 Lower Wyke, near Halifax, Yorkshire, England
d. 10 June 1889 Moor Park, Farnham, Surrey, England
English civil engineer whose principal works were concerned with reservoirs, water-supply schemes and pipelines.
Bateman's maternal grandfather was a Moravian missionary, and from the age of 7 he was educated at the Moravian schools at Fairfield and Ockbrook. At the age of 15 he was apprenticed to a "civil engineer, land surveyor and agent" in Oldham. After this apprenticeship, Bateman commenced his own practice in 1833. One of his early schemes and reports was in regard to the flooding of the river Medlock in the Manchester area. He came to the attention of William Fairbairn, the engine builder and millwright of Canal Street, Ancoats, Manchester. Fairbairn used Bateman as his site surveyor and as such he prepared much of the groundwork for the Bann reservoirs in Northern Ireland. Whilst the reports on the proposals were in the name of Fairbairn, Bateman was, in fact, appointed by the company as their engineer for the execution of the works. One scheme of Bateman's which was carried forward was the Kendal Reservoirs. The Act for these was signed in 1845 and was implemented not for the purpose of water supply but for the conservation of water to supply power to the many mills which stood on the river Kent between Kentmere and Morecambe Bay. The Kentmere Head dam is the only one of the five proposed for the scheme to survive, although not all the others were built as they would have retained only small volumes of water.
Perhaps the greatest monument to the work of J.F.La Trobe Bateman is Manchester's water supply; he was consulted about this in 1844, and construction began four years later. He first built reservoirs in the Longdendale valley, which has a very complicated geological stratification. Bateman favoured earth embankment dams and gravity feed rather than pumping; the five reservoirs in the valley that impound the river Etherow were complex, cored earth dams. However, when completed they were greatly at risk from landslips and ground movement. Later dams were inserted by Bateman to prevent water loss should the older dams fail. The scheme was not completed until 1877, by which time Manchester's population had exceeded the capacity of the original scheme; Thirlmere in Cumbria was chosen by Manchester Corporation as the site of the first of the Lake District water-supply schemes. Bateman, as Consulting Engineer, designed the great stone-faced dam at the west end of the lake, the "gothic" straining well in the middle of the east shore of the lake, and the 100-mile (160 km) pipeline to Manchester. The Act for the Thirlmere reservoir was signed in 1879 and, whilst Bateman continued as Consulting Engineer, the work was supervised by G.H. Hill and was completed in 1894.
Bateman was also consulted by the authorities in Glasgow, with the result that he constructed an impressive water-supply scheme derived from Loch Katrine during the years 1856–60. It was claimed that the scheme bore comparison with "the most extensive aqueducts in the world, not excluding those of ancient Rome". Bateman went on to superintend the waterworks of many cities, mainly in the north of England but also in Dublin and Belfast. In 1865 he published a pamphlet, On the Supply of Water to London from the Sources of the River Severn, based on a survey funded from his own pocket; a Royal Commission examined various schemes but favoured Bateman's.
Bateman was also responsible for harbour and dock works, notably on the rivers Clyde and Shannon, and also for a number of important water-supply works on the Continent of Europe and beyond. Dams and the associated reservoirs were the principal work of J.F.La Trobe Bateman; he completed forty-three such schemes during his professional career. He also prepared many studies of water-supply schemes, and appeared as professional witness before the appropriate Parliamentary Committees.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS 1860. President, Institution of Civil Engineers 1878, 1879.
Among his publications History and Description of the Manchester Waterworks, (1884, London), and The Present State of Our Knowledge on the Supply of Water to Towns, (1855, London: British Association for the Advancement of Science) are notable.
Further Reading
Obituary, 1889, Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 97:392– 8.
Obituary, 1889, Proceedings of the Royal Society 46:xlii-xlviii. G.M.Binnie, 1981, Early Victorian Water Engineers, London.
P.N.Wilson, 1973, "Kendal reservoirs", Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society 73.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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