A new memorial will be unveiled tomorrow (October 25) honouring the life of an Arnold engineer who saved thousands of lives by creating clear water systems for towns and cities across the country.
The memorial statue to engineer Thomas Hawksley will be a new feature in Arnot Hill Park and will be unveiled by the Deputy Mayor of Gedling along with direct descendants of Mr Hawksley at the special ceremony tomorrow.
Hawksley was born in Arnot Hill House, which is in the grounds of the park.
The funding for the new statue was provided by Severn Trent Water, who agreed to provide £10,000 after meeting with Vernon Coaker MP and the Deputy Leader of Gedling Borough Council Cllr Michael Payne to discuss better flooding provisions in the borough.
The sculpture was designed and built by local artist Richard Janes and incorporates elements of Thomas Hawksley’s work and designs using techniques and materials that were in use at the time Hawksley was alive. The memorial also includes elements of design from children at Arnbrook Primary School who have worked with the artist on the memorial.
One of the council’s key priorities, set out in the Gedling Plan, is to provide a more sustainable environment, which includes a vision to promote and celebrate the borough’s rich heritage. The installation is part of the council’s Gedling Heritage Brought Alive programme, which aims to increase awareness of the famous people and places of the borough. It is also the 100 year anniversary of the opening of Arnot Hill Park Earlier this year, events took place at the park to recognise the history and heritage of the park and house where Hawksley was born in 1807.
Leader of Gedling Borough Council, Councillor John Clarke said: “Many people may not have heard of Thomas Hawksley before today but they will have benefitted from his fantastic work as a water engineer. Today, we take clean water for granted but it was because of people like Thomas Hawksley that we have it. This memorial will be a fitting tribute to his excellent work and we are delighted that members of his family could be here today to see it. I would like to thank Severn Trent Water for providing the funding for this memorial and to everyone involved.”
Richard Janes who designed the memorial said: “The memorial takes its inspiration for the style of Victorian memorials and architecture that Hawksley would have known and designed himself. It uses engineering techniques and materials that Thomas Hawksley would have been familiar with but also uses new modern techniques to create a contemporary sculpture as a memorial to this giant of Victorian Engineering.”
Adam Boucher, Area Operations Lead for Severn Trent, said: “This is a fantastic project that we’re absolutely delighted to be a part of. Clearly, as a water company, we owe a huge debt to Thomas Hawksley which is why we’re so happy to be involved and to support the memorial.”
Who was Thomas Hawksley?
Hawksley, born in 1807, was the son of a yarn manufacturer in Arnold.
Thomas was educated at Nottingham Grammar School and then apprenticed to a firm of architects and engineer, in which he soon became a partner. In 1830, when he was only 23, Hawksley undertook the construction for the Trent Waterworks Company of a new pumping station adjoining Trent Bridge.
Water was obtained from the River Trent by filtration through natural beds of sand and gravel and pumped by a cylinder steam engine through a 15 inch main to a reservoir on Park Row near the General Hospital. In 1832 Hawksley personally turned on the tap which supplied water under pressure twenty four hours a day to the streets, courts and alleyways, so that at any hour the housewives of Nottingham could fill their pails at the tap in the yard.
Hawksley did not invent the principle of permanent supply under pressure, but he was the first engineer to apply it to the very real problem of supplying a large industrial town. According to the historian J.D. Chambers, in the Nottingham Journal of 30 June 1949, ‘His contribution lay in the ingenuity which he applied to overcoming the problems of plumbing . . . and above all, in the patience he brought to bear on the still more intractable problem of persuading plumbers to carry out his instructions’.
Nottingham was the first of more than 30 British towns (and several abroad including Bombay) to benefit from Hawksley’s genius, which received greater recognition from local authorities and from foreign rulers than it has from British historians despite being the first civil engineer to apply his talents almost exclusively to the enormous problems of urban living in an increasingly industrial society.
Before the introduction of Hawksley’s new system, the death rate in Nottingham was 25 percent above the national average, being only 20.5 years. His proper sanitary systems would increase the average age at death to over 30.