Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Engineer and scientist, of Dublin and London. Robert Mallet was born on 3 June 1810 in Dublin, where his father, JOHN MALLET  JOHN MALLET had a plumbing business and foundry in Ryder's Row. His mother, Thomasina, daughter of ROBERT MALLET[1] ROBERT MALLET[1] , was his father's first cousin. He received his schooling at Bective House under the Rev. G.N. Wright, and then made a visit to the Continent before entering Trinity College, Dublin, in December 1826. After graduating BA in July 1830, he spent some time in his father's works and visited engineering establishments in England, while taking lessons in surveying and levelling from JOSEPH JAMES BYRNE JOSEPH JAMES BYRNE . In 1831 he made a second, extended tour of the Continent with Benjamin Purser of Rathmines Castle and a Swedish professor of mathematics named Friedlezius. Not long after his return to Ireland he was taken into partnership by his father and assumed charge of the foundry and its associated workshops. Within a few years the Victoria Foundry, as it became known, was handling all the most important engineering commissions in Ireland as well as carrying out several works in England.(1) During the 1850s, however, competition from the increased number of specialist foundries in England and Scotland and the high cost of importing coal and iron into Dublin caused a falling away of business. The works were closed after the firm failed to secure the contract to supply pipes for the extension of the Dublin Waterworks. Mallet, who had already been spending much of his time in London. where he had been engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to design a new type of mortar for the Royal Ordnance,(2) left Ireland permanently in 1861 and opened an office as a consulting engineer in Westminster. During the 1870s his eyesight deteriorated, and in November 1880 he contracted 'diffuse cystitis'. After a year of much pain, in which he was confined to his bed, he died at home in South London on 5 November 1881. He was buried in Norwood Cemetery. He was married twice: first, in 1831, to Cordelia Watson (d.1854), of Dublin, by whom he had three sons(3) and three daughters, and second, in 1861, to Mary Daniel, of London.

From his childhood Mallet was interested a broad range of the physical sciences, and he is perhaps even better known as a scientist than as a practising engineer. He was a prolific writer on engineering and scientific topics which included the application of physics to engineering problems, physical geology, earthquakes and volcanic phenomena. During a period of over forty years, he submitted ninety-one papers to the Royal Society as well as making numerous contributions to other professional and technical publications. He was editor of the Practical Mechanic's Journal from 1861 to 1867 and was a frequent contributor to The Engineer. He patented several inventions; the best known, Mallet's Buckled Plate (1852), was widely used for the flooring of road bridges, notably Westminster Bridge, London.(4)

Mallet was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society on 1 June 1854 and was a member of a great number of professional and scientific bodies, of which the following are only a few:(5)

ICEI: elected member, 1836; council member, 1845,1846,1850-56,1862; vice-president, 1847-49, 1857-61,1867; president, 1865-66.
Inst.CE: elected associate, May 1839; reads paper 'On the action of air and water on iron', 1840;(6) Walker Premium, January 1842; Telford Medal and Premium, 1859.
RIA: elected member, October 1832; science committee member, 1857.
Geological Society of Ireland: vice-president, 1845-1846, 1849,1853-58,1861,1863; president, 1846-48; secretary, 1850-52; council member, 1859-1860,1862

Addresses: Work: 7-9 Ryder's Row; 98 Capel Street, 1846-1861; 11 Bridge Street, Westminster; 7 Westminster Chambers, Westminster.
Home: Delville, Glasnevin, 1836ca-1858ca; 1 Grosvenor Terrace, Monkstown, 1858ca-1861; Enmore, The Grove, Clapham Road, South London, 1861 until death.

A drawing, signed John & Robert Mallet and dated 27 May 1836, showing an proposal (unexecuted) for supporting the saloon floor at Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow, and a letter from John & Robert Mallet to Rev. W. MaGhee, 7 Jun 1836, about raising the floor and ceiling of the saloon are in the Irish Architectural Archive (Acc. 89/62, Powerscourt Albums, 1/28/1 and 1/87(P)1).

See WORKS (for structural works in England and Ireland only) and BIBLIOGRAPHY  BIBLIOGRAPHY (includes only those of Mallet's articles about structures in Ireland or engineering in Ireland).



References

For a more detailed study of Mallet's life and achievements, see R.C. Cox, ed. Robert Mallet 1810-1881: Centenary Seminar Papers (1982) and the obituary in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 297-304, on which the entry on Mallet in DNB is largely based. See also, C. Davison, The Founders of Seismology (Cambridge, 1927), 65-81.   His letter book, 4 Dec1851 - 26 Apr 1877, was offered for sale by Elton Engineering Books, London, in Jan 2010  Catalogue 19, no. 22). 

(1) Robert Mallet exhibited two of his designs, for a steam engine and for a crane at Kingstown Harbour, at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1835 (nos. 258,266, 272).
(2) See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mallet's_Mortar (last visited, Apr 2012).
(3) His sons' careers reflected his interests: the eldest, John William Mallet (1832-1912) became professor of chemistry at the Universities of Alabama, Louisiana and Texas, the second, Robert Trefusis Mallet (1837-1913) was chief engineer in the Indian State Railways, and the third, F.R. Mallet, was on the Government Geological Survey in India.(IB 23, 15 Dec 1881, 360).
(4) See TICEI 5 (1855), 37.
(5) Additional information from Jones's transcripts from Thom's directories.
(6) Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 3 (Nov, 1840), 387.


32 work entries listed in chronological order for MALLET, ROBERT [2]


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Building: CO. LAOIS, BALLYFIN
Date: 1835a
Nature: Construction of 'some very large metallic truss beams for Sir Charles Coote'. By J. & R. Mallet.
Refs: Architectural Magazine 2 (1835), 166

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARY STREET, NO. 040 (APOTHECARIES' HALL)
Date: 1835ca
Nature: Repair of floor and partitions by use of metal trussing beams. By J. & R. Mallet for Incorporated Body of Apothecaries. Cost under £300.
Refs: Architectural Magazine 2 (1835), 165-177(illus.)

Building: CO. WICKLOW, POWERSCOURT
Date: 1836
Nature: Proposal for supporting saloon floor by J. & R. Mallet. (William Farrell also involved.) Not executed.
Refs: Drawing, signed John & Robert Mallet and dated 27 May 1836, and letter from Robert Mallet to Rev. W. Magee, 7 Jun 1836, about the proposal in IAA, Powerscourt Albums, 1/28/1 and 1/87(P)1

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HARDWICKE PLACE, ST GEORGE'S CHURCH (CI)
Date: 1836
Nature: Restoration and raising of collapsing roof and ceiling by interweaving system of metallic framing into roof timbers. System devised and executed John and Robert Mallet. (RM awarded Walker premium by Inst.CE in 1842 for this work.)
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 1 (1841), 92-96;(same account published in Civil Engineer 4 (1841), 285

Building: CO. OFFALY, SHANNON HARBOUR, BRIDGE OVER RIVER SHANNON
Date: 1836ca
Nature: J. & R. Mallet secure contract for swivel bridge, for Shannon Commissioners.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 298

Building: CO. WESTMEATH, ATHLONE, SHANNON? BRIDGE
Date: 1836ca
Nature: J. & R. Mallet secure contract for swivel bridge over River Shannon, for Shannon Commissioners.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 298

Building: CO. GALWAY, PORTUMNA, BRIDGE
Date: 1836ca
Nature: J. & R. Mallet secure contract for swivel bridge, for Shannon Commissioners.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 298

Building: CO. OFFALY, BANAGHER, BRIDGE OVER RIVER SHANNON
Date: 1836ca
Nature: J. & R. Mallet secure contract for swivel section of bridge, for Shannon Commissioners.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 298

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, BRIDGE OVER RIVER SHANNON
Date: 1836ca
Nature: J. & R. Mallet secure contract for swivel bridge, for Shannon Commissioners.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 298

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, WATER SUPPLY (PROPOSED)
Date: 1840
Nature: Unexecuted scheme for providing Dublin with water by means of 6 reservoirs along the Dodder.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, JAMES'S STREET, ST JAMES'S GATE BREWERY (A. GUINNESS, SON & CO.)
Date: 1840ca
Nature: Water supply, machine for washing casks, sky cooler designed by RM and executed by J. & R. Mallet.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 298

Building: CO. KILKENNY, CASTLECOMER, COAL MINES
Date: 1845-46
Nature: Engines and machinery designed and erected by RM.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 300

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, AMIENS STREET, RAILWAY STATION (DUBLIN & DROGHEDA RAILWAY)
Date: 1845-46
Nature: Railway terminus and large polygon engine shed designed and erected by RM for Dublin & Drogheda Railway.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 300

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, AMIENS STREET, RAILWAY STATION (DUBLIN & DROGHEDA RAILWAY)
Date: 1845-46
Nature: Railway terminus and large polygon engine shed designed and erected by RM for Dublin & Drogheda Railway.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 300

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, KINGSBRIDGE, RAILWAY STATION (GREAT SOUTHERN & WESTERN RAILWAY TERMINUS)
Date: 1845-6
Nature: Passenger sheds, workshops and other buildings designed and erected by RM for Great Southern & Western Railway Co.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 300;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 688.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, SAGGART, PAPER MILLS (MCDONALD)
Date: 1845-6
Nature: 40 ft overshot water wheel and machinery.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 300

Building: CO. KILKENNY, THOMASTOWN, RAILWAY VIADUCT OVER RIVER NORE
Date: 1846-1850
Nature: Timber viaduct for Waterford & Kilkenny Railway Co.; 'though nominally prepared by Captain Moorsom, was re-designed by Mallet, as failure might have resulted from following the original drawings'. (Cox). Contractors for foundations & masonry nearly to springing of cross arches): Hammond & Murray. Contractor for woodwork and maintenance of same: Robert Mallet. .
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 11 (1851-52), 426-434; 22 (1862-63), 325-326; 68 (1881-82), 300; timberwork illus. in E.Lomax & T. Gunyon, eds., Nicholson's Dictionary of the Science and Practice of Architecture (n.d.), Pl. ?; R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 118-119(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, BROADSTONE, BRIDGE
Date: 1846-47
Nature: Pontoon bridge, begun Oct 1846 and completed about Feb 1847. Cost: £1,275. Designed and erected by J. & R. Mallet.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 9 (1850), 344-352(illus.); APSD, D, 77;

Building: CO. CORK, FASTNET LIGHTHOUSE
Date: 1848-49
Nature: Constructed by RM from designs by George Halpin.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 301

Building: CO. ARMAGH, PORTADOWN, RAILWAY STATION
Date: 1849
Nature: Iron station roof designed and constructed by RM.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 301

Building: CO. ARMAGH, ARMAGH, RAILWAY STATION
Date: 1849
Nature: Roof designed and built by RM.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 301

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, YORK ROAD, STATION
Date: 1849
Nature: 'iron station roof at Belfast' designed and constructed by RM. (Presumably York Road station, built 1848)
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 301

Building: ENGLAND, WAKEFIELD (YORKSHIRE), RAILWAY STATION (LANCASHIRE & YORKSHIRE RAILWAY CO.)
Date: 1849ca
Nature: Large passenger shed for Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Co. constructed by RM.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 301

Building: ENGLAND, MILES PLATTING (MANCHESTER), ENGINE SHED (LANCASHIRE & YORKSHIRE RAILWAY)
Date: 1849ca?
Nature: Large engine shed known as 'the Irish shed' constructed by RM for Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway (Engineer-in-chief: John Hawkshaw).
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 301

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, DOCKS
Date: 1852ca
Nature: Dock gates designed and executed by J. & R. Mallet. Installation of gates directed by Mr P. Toomey.
Refs: B 11, 8 Jan 1853, 29; Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 300

Building: CO. TYRONE, BARONSCOURT
Date: ?
Nature: Tower gate entrance designed and erected by RM for lst? Duke of Abercorn.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CASTLE STREET, DUBLIN CASTLE
Date: ?
Nature: Ventilation and hot water heating system.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CASTLE STREET, DUBLIN CASTLE, CHAPEL ROYAL (CI)
Date: ?
Nature: Ventilation and hot water heating system.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, TRINITY COLLEGE
Date: ?
Nature: Palisading and railing along Nassau St designed and erected by RM. Standards moulded by Edward Toomey.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299-300; IB 24, 15 May 1882, 146;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 389.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, TRINITY COLLEGE, CHAPEL (1787)
Date: ?
Nature: Circular stairs on each side of chancel designed and erected by RM.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COLLEGE GREEN, TRINITY COLLEGE, CHEMISTRY LABORATORY
Date: ?
Nature: RM 'designed, erected and fitted out the new laboratory for Dr Apjohn [Professor of Chemistry]'
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, INNS QUAY, FOUR COURTS
Date: ?
Nature: Ventilation and hot water heating system.
Refs: Min.Proc.Inst.CE 68 (1881-82), 299

Author Title Date Details
Mallet, Robert 'On the means adapted for securing certain decayed Flooring and Partitions at Apothecaries' Hall, Dublin; and a description of the metallic trusses used' 1835 Architectural Magazine 2 (1835), 165-177 (illus.).
Mallet, Robert 'Description of the Methods adopted for raising and sustaining the sunken roof of St George's Church, Dublin' 1841 Min.Proc.Inst.CE 1 (1841), 92-96; Civil Engineer 4 (Aug 1841), 285.
Mallet, Robert 'Report on the Oxidation of Rails in and out of use, determining the Loss by Abrasion'
1849 Summary of paper delivered to Chemical Section at 19th meeting of British Association, Sep 1849, published in Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 12 (Nov 1849), 342.
Mallet, Robert 'Description of the insistent pontoon bridge, and the Dublin Terminus of the Midland Great Western Railway of Ireland' 1850 Min.Proc.Inst.CE 9 (1850), 344-352(illus.) (summary published in Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 13 (May 1850),174).
Mallet, Robert [President's address to ICEI.] 1866 TICEI 8 (1863-1866), 48-102;  Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 29, 1 Jul,1 Aug 1866, 190-193,229-232.