John Waddell (1828-1888)

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Director, Broxburn Oil Co. Ltd. (c.1871-?)
Director, Burntisland Oil Co. Ltd. (c.1866-70)

John Waddell was an accomplished and widely-respected railway contractor. He served for many years as Provost of Bathgate, and was proprietor of the Easter Inch estate.


The Late John Waddell

The Rev. Mr Kessen, of the Free Church, Bathgate, at the close of his discourse on Sunday, said that he could not but allude, in few sentences, to an event which had given rise to the deepest sorrow — the death of Mr. Waddell.

He was known, he believed, to them all, and respected and esteemed by all who knew him. For some fifteen years, or during the period of residence Bathgate, he and his wife and family were connected with their congregation. He was not office-bearer, but he was interested and prominent member, never absent from his pew when well and home. When their church was enlarged by the erection of a gallery, and the area was re-seated, and when, at subsequent time, the hall was built he put his services at their disposal, and gave them all the benefit of his great skill and extensive experience; and in addition to all this, with that large-heartedness and liberality that always distinguished him, he was never slow to give of his substance stingy in his giving.

His (the speakers) relation to him had ever been of the most pleasant description, and one could come in contact with him, in private or public, without being struck with his modest and unassuming manners, his kind and obliging disposition, his marvellous shrewdness, and his wonderful capacity estimate and surmount difficulties. And, withal, there was more of the true gentleman about him than one often finds in some who are nobly born and highly educated. In this town he was long and favourably known Provost, this capacity effected not few improvements, of which others could better and more appropriately speak.

After leaving us to reside in Edinburgh, at which time his business was extensive, it went on increasing at a still more rapid rate; and now his name is connected, and will be, with some the most marvellous monuments of engineering skill and building enterprise in Britain. His success as railway contractor, a builder of bridges and docks, and former of tunnels, and a man of unusual business capacity was very great, and to him, doubted not, young men might yet be pointed as an example of honesty, and industry, and dogged determination, crowned with wealth and influence.

He had been taken away, not in the mid time of his days, but in the maturity of his power and the height of his prosperity. And he was sure they all deeply sympathised with the widow and family, and prayed that, in the absence of husband and father, they might take refuge in Him who had promised to be husband to the widow and a father to the fatherless. Few, said the preacher, knew better than their deceased friend, the importance of a right foundation to a building, and a right key stone to an arch. It was such skill possessed by him above must men, and the wise planning that preceded, and the careful executing that followed, that gave him such honourable reputation, and obtained for him many contracts.

The Falkirk Herald, 25th January 1888


Death of Mr John Waddell, Contractor.

About seven p.m. on Tuesday, 17th inst., Mr John Waddell, of Messrs John Waddell & Sons, contractors, died at his residence, Belford Park, Edinburgh. Deceased, who was in the 60th year of his age, had been in very poor health for a considerable time, but only during the last few weeks was he seriously ill.

Mr Waddell was native of Lanarkshire, where his father resided at Gairn, in the parish of New Monkland, near Airdrie. With comparatively small engagements, and without even a rudimentary knowledge of practical engineering, he soon extended into greater efforts, and his first great work was the construction of the Leadburn, Linton, and Dolphinton Railway, in Peeblesshire. This was the beginning of great series of national works.

At Greenock, Waddell constructed the James Watt Dock. This was the latest, and certainly one of the most hazardous of his many undertakings, but the work was finished in a manner that brought forth encomiums from all parts of the country. Waddell carried out perhaps one of the biggest works of modern times—namely, the Mersey Tunnel, which occupied several years of labour, and for which he received much credit.

Mr Waddell proprietor of the estate of Inch, Bathgate, which he bought years ago, and where he reared Clydesdale horses in large numbers, being a successful prize-taker at many agricultural shows. He was also tenant of the farm of Duddingston, near Queensferry. For many years he was Chief Magistrate of Bathgate, and it was his wont to visit the district as often as possible, while he almost invariably presided at the luncheon in connection with the Bathgate Agricultural Association, of which he was one the most enthusiastic members. Mr Waddell was married, and leaves a widow and eight sons and daughters, several of whom are married.

The Falkirk Herald, 25th January 1888


The death is announced of Mr. John Waddell, the well-known Scotch contractor. Mr. Waddell constructed the Scarbro' to Whitby Railway, the Whitby and Loftus Line, built a bridge across the Thames at Putney, and constructed the tunnel under the Mersey, besides other large and important works.

The Whitby Gazette, 28th January 1888