John Gibb

1776 - 1850

Civil engineer and building contractor, best remembered for his work on harbours. Gibb was born at Kirkcows, to the south of Falkirk. His father, a contractor, died when he was only twelve. He undertook a mechanical apprenticeship and then followed his brother who was working under John Rennie (1761 - 1821) on the construction of the Lancaster and Preston Canal in England. He then moved to the Port of Leith, working on docks there. He began his own contracting firm and developed a reputation for skill and tact. Rennie commissioned Gibb to work with Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834) on improvements to Greenock Harbour and he was responsible for the East India Harbour there. In 1809, Telford engaged Gibb to serve as resident engineer to oversee his work on Aberdeen Harbour. He worked with Telford on the Crinan Canal, various harbours on the east coast of Scotland, the Glasgow and Carlisle turnpike road, and bridges, including the Bridge of Don, the Glasgow Bridge over the Clyde and the Dean Bridge in Edinburgh. Gibb was also responsible for work on other bridges, railway viaducts and tunnels, such as the Upper North Water Bridge over the North Esk and the Winchburgh Tunnel. Gibb also built lighthouses for the noted engineer Robert Stevenson (1772 - 1850), including Buchan Ness Lighthouse, Girdle Ness Lighthouse and the Rhinns of Islay Lighthouse. Around the same time, he also built the Oa Parish Church on Islay. Several of these projects were completed with his son Alexander Gibb (1804-67). Gibb was the first to introduce granite in the construction of public building works.

Gibb died in Aberdeen. His great-grandson was the noted engineer Sir Alexander Gibb (1872 - 1958).

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