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CLARK, William Henry

Born: 1869
Died: 1955 04 01


Born in Thornaby-on-Tees, Yorkshire, England. William Henry Clark served an apprenticeship with Head, Wrightson and Company and then worked in London for a time for the consulting engineer Sir Alexander Rendell. He visited the United States twice to inspect bridgework being manufactured there for the Gokteik Viaduct in Burma. In 1902, at the end of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), he came to South Africa to take up an appointment as chief draughtsman to the IMPERIAL MILITARY RAILWAYS (IMR), which soon became the CENTRAL SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS. Following the establishment of the Union of South Africa in 1910 he was appointed as assistant bridge engineer of the SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS AND HARBOURS and subsequently promoted to bridge engineer. He became a South African citizen.

Clark was responsible for the design and construction of a number of important railway bridges in South Africa, including those across the Buffalo River and Gouritz River, and the Blaauwkrantz (now Bloukrans) Bridge near Grahamstown. Clark became a member of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1908.

In 1915 he presented a paper to the South African Society of Civil Engineers on the railways engineers' views of reinforced concrete, expressing misgivings about factors used for determining the safety of the material and proposing a table of safe working stresses. In 1919 he became Chief Bridge Engineer for the SA Railways. Later in his career he became resident engineer in charge of the design and construction of port and inland grain elevators, a post he held until his retirement in 1930. In this capacity initiated the design and construction of reinforced concrete grain silos using the novel construction technique of sliding formwork, erected in Cape Town and Durban docks. This initiated the erection of reinforced concrete grain silos across the length and breadth of South Africa, then and for many years thereafter all designs emanating from the offices of the SAR under Clark’s supervision.

After retiring from the railways he was involved in the construction of the Beit Bridge over the Limpopo River and the steelworks of the South African Iron and Steel Industrial Corporation, Limited (Iscor) at Pretoria.

Clark was married to Edwina Jane nee Maule, with whom he had four sons. He died in Pretoria.

[Fredman, 1964:41-2, 45; Plug (Compiler) S2A3.]

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing CLARK

Fredman, R. 1964. Structural concrete in South Africa: Some Observations on the Development of Reinforced and Prestressed Concrete from the Time of Van Riebeeck to the Present Day. Johannesburg: South African Reinforced Concrete Engineers Association. pp 41-42, 45

S2A3 (Plug, C - Project Leader and main compiler). 2002-. S2A3 biographical database of southern African science. Webspace: WWW. pp Accessed 2016 01 13