James Anderson

1793 - 1861

Engineer and land surveyor. Anderson was born in the Old Town of Edinburgh, the son of a textile worker. He trained with James Jardine (1776 - 1858) and, through Jardine, became friendly with Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834).

In 1818, Anderson published designs for a Bridge of Chains over the Firth of Forth, a remarkable structure for the time which bears a remarkable resemblance to the Queensferry Crossing which opened in 2017. He justified the construction on back of the success of Telford's chain bridge over the Menai Straits but the size and complexity of Anderson's design was probably beyond the engineering capabilities of the time. His designs were however exceptionally advanced. He went on to refurbish the Chain Pier at Trinity, which had been built by Captain Samuel Brown in 1821. However, his work was primarily in harbour construction and he proposed improvements to Leith Docks. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1836.

Anderson died at his home in Stockbridge and lies buried in Old Calton Burial Ground.

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