County surveyor for Dublin, 1891-1924. William Collen, a son of JOHN COLLEN , entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1880. He acquitted himself with distinction, graduating in arts in 1882 and in engineering in 1884. After seven years working on railway and other engineering projects in Ireland, including a period of employment under PETER CHALMERS COWAN , in 1891 he sat and passed the county surveyorship examination and was appointed surveyor for the northern divison of Co. Dublin. In 1897, following the retirement of RICHARD ARMSTRONG GRAY the previous year, he became surveyor for the whole county. His salary, fixed at £850 per annum in 1899, was increased in 1910 to allow him the use of a car. He resigned in November 1823 and went to live in Bournemouth. His health in his retirement was not good; he died on 29 April 1932, a few months after a severe illness from which he never fully recovered.
A man of intelligence and energy, Collen was a pioneer and advocate of steam-rolling for roads and procured and maintained a steam-roller at his own expense until he had converted the county council to his views. He was responsible for the improvement of many roads in the county, especially in the southern portion.
ICEI: elected member 5 Mar 1902 ; council member 1908-1928; vice-president 1909-13; president 1913-15.
Inst.CE: elected associate member by 1896; transferred to membership, 6 Dec 1898.
Institute of Municipal and County Engineers: district chairman, 1912.
Addresses: 5a Clanwilliam Place, Dublin, and Kilcomain, Portadown, 1896; 9 Hume Street, 1900; 70 Leeson Street Upper, <=1900 ->=1915; 3 Longford Terrace, Monkstown, <=1917-1924.
See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY . See also COLLEN BROS.
All information in this entry not otherwise referenced is from the obituary of Collen in IB 74, 7 May 1932, 417, and from an article written at the time of his retirement by Harry Allberry in IB 66, 20 Sep 1924, 806, which is illustrated with a portrait photograph, and from Brendan O'Donoghue, The Irish County Surveyors 1834-1944 (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), 132-4, which gives the best an fullest account of Collen's career as county surveyor.
Building News 98, 1 Apr 1910, 461.
Irish Times, 21 Nov 1923.
For other references to Collen's steam-rolling activities see IB 47, 20 Dec 1905, 929; 49, 9 Feb 1907,98 ; 52, 6 Apr 1910, 240 and Irish Times, 29 Sep 1899, 12 Mar 1900 (B.O'D.). The claim that Collen was the pioneer of steam-rolling in Ireland is challenged in the obituary of W.J. Robinson, City Surveyor of Derry, in IB 51, 20 Mar 1909, 178.
TICEI 29 (1901-2), 86.
TICEI lists of officers.
Post Office and Thom's directories and TICEI membership lists.