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James Jardine


1776 - 1858

Civil Engineer. Born in Applegarth (Dumfriesshire), the son of a farmer, Jardine was educated at Dumfries Academy and the University of Edinburgh, where he was taught by John Playfair (1748 - 1819) who encouraged Jardine to become an engineer. He was the first to determine mean sea level from observations made in the Firth of Tay. On the recommendation of Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834), who was to become a good friend, Jardine began planning an improved water supply for Edinburgh. He was appointed Engineer to the Edinburgh Water Company in 1819 and built the reservoirs at Glencorse (1824), Threipmuir and Harlaw (1843-48). He helped design water-supply schemes for Perth (1828), Dumfries (1833) and Glasgow (1834), oversaw the lowering of Loch Leven in the 1830s and a scheme which supplied water to mills on the River Leven. He helped build the Union Canal and was responsible for Cobbinshaw Reservoir which supplied the canal with water.

In 1826 Jardine was appointed Engineer to the 'Innocent Railway', and designed both the remarkable tunnel at St. Leonard's and the Glenesk Viaduct. The following year he became engineer to the Ardrossan and Johnstone Railway. He surveyed routes of other railways, was involved in several road-building projects and built bridges including Threave (1825) and Inveralmond (1827). Many projects were in conjunction with Telford, for whom he calculated the strengths of the chains for the famous Menai Straits bridge in Wales. Jardine also built harbours including Saltcoats (1811), Perth (1831), Leith (1835) and Eyemouth (1837).

Jardine also supported several of W.H. Playfair's architectural projects. He was interested in science, working in weights and measures, astronomy and studied the temperatures of Lochs Lomond and Katrine.

Jardine was created a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1812 and his bust can be seen in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He died in his home at 18 Queen Street in Edinburgh's New Town.


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