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Papers of Sir John Jackson

Identifier: Coll-1490

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of the papers of Sir John Jackson, including:

  1. Photograph albums.
  2. Albums of newspaper clippings relating to Sir John Jackson's work, and to his and his family's personal life.
  3. Personal and business correspondence.
  4. Material relating to Sir John Jackson's candidacy as MP for Devonport in 1904, 1906, and 1910.
  5. Printed material such as biographies, and reports on his projects.
  6. Newspapers and magazines containing articles relating to Sir John Jackson and his work, and to his family.

For more details on the contents, see the box list.


  • Creation: 1838-2002


Language of Materials

Mostly English, some material in Spanish

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Civil engineer and engineering contractor Sir John Jackson was born on 4 February 1851 in York. he was educated at Holgate Seminary near York, and in 1866 was apprenticed to William Boyd engineering works in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. In 1868 he began studies at Edinburgh University where he excelled in engineering, surveying and political economy. After University he returned to Newcastle where he worked for his brother, William Edwin Jackson.

Jackson submitted a tender for Glasgow's Stobcross Docks which was completed in 1879. Earlier, in 1875, he founded his contracting business which would later become Sir John Jackson Ltd., in 1898. He completed Manchester Ship Canal in 1894 and he worked on the foundations of London's Tower Bridge. He had subsidiary companies in Bolivia, Canada, Chile, South Africa and Turkey, and owned a shipping line, the Westminster Shipping Company Ltd. His greatest work was the extension of the Admiralty works at Keyham, Devonport in 1896-1907. He undertook engineering works across the world, including: the naval harbour and graving dock at Simonstown, South Africa; harbour works in Singapore; the construction of a breakwater at Victoria BC; the naval dock at Ferrol, Spain; advice to the Austro-Hungarians on the extension of the Pola arsenal; the building of the Arica to La Paz railway in 1909, crossing the Andes at a height of 14,500 feet; irrigation works in Lebanon; and, irrigation works in Mesopotamia which involved a barrage across the Euphrates at Hindiyyah (Hindieh Barrage).

Jackson was knighted in 1895. He was awarded the honorary degree of LL.D. from Edinburgh University, and in 1894 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. From 1910 to 1918 he represented Devonport in Parliament as an MP for the Unionists. He was also awarded the Chilean Order of Merit and the Spanish Grand Cross of Naval Merit. In 1901 he was elected a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron.

Sir John Jackson died on 14 December 1919.


21 boxes (20 standard size boxes, one outsize box, and loose outsize documents.)

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated in 2013, 2015, and 2018. Accessions no E2013.60; E2015.75; and SC-Acc-2018-0094.

Processing Information

Original description of E2013.60 and E2015.75 by Graeme Eddie. Description of SC-Acc-2018-0094 and creation of ArchivesSpace box list by Aline Brodin in February 2020.

Papers of Sir John Jackson (1851-1919)
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379