Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Engineer. Charles Nixon, a son of William Nixon (d. 1826), clerk of works to JOHN NASH  JOHN NASH at Brighton and Buckingham Palace, was born in London on 2 June 1814. He was a pupil in Nash's office from 1832 until 1835. After Nash's death he became an assistant to the engineering contractor William Ranger and in 1845 set up in independent practice as a civil engineer. In about 1848,(1) on the strong recommendation of ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL  ISAMBARD KINGDOM BRUNEL and James Walker, he was appointed engineer-in-chief to the Cork & Bandon Railway Company, for which he constructed the first railway tunnel in Ireland and large-span skew bridges using ordinary rubble masonry. These works were executed by local craftsmen and labourers, largely trained by himself with the help of his principal assistant, JOSEPH PHILIP RONAYNE JOSEPH PHILIP RONAYNE . Nixon was also appointed engineer-in-chief for the Waterford & Kilkenny Railway(2) and engineer to the Kilkenny & Great Southern & Western Railway.(3) He was also responsible for the reclamation of a large tract of land in the Castlemaine estuary, Co. Kerry, and in laying out lines of railway to the harbours of Crookhaven and Bantry Bay in Co. Cork. After his return to London in 1853, he continued to be engaged on Irish railway projects. In 1859 he was making plans for the proposed Kilkenny & Roscrea Junction Railway.(4) Later, from about 1863,(5) he and his partner William Dennis were engineers for the Parsonstown & Portumna Bridge Railway.

Nixon died at Clapham, Surrey, after a long illness on 22 July 1873. 'During the time he lived and worked in Ireland,' his obituarist notes, 'although an Englishman and a stranger, he was trusted and respected by all who knew him, but particularly by the working men, and whatever might be their complaint, on an appeal, his decision always settled any dispute.' WILLIAM NIXON  WILLIAM NIXON may have been his elder brother. His pupils and assistants included WILLIAM PATTERSON ORCHARD. WILLIAM PATTERSON ORCHARD.

Inst.CE: elected associate, 1 February 1842; transferred to class of member, 6 March 1855.



All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the obituary of Nixon in Min.Proc.Inst.CE 38, Pt. II (1873-74), 291-293, which see for details of Nixon's career outside Ireland.

(1) The Cork & Bandon Railway does not appear in Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Almanac for 1847; according to Jones's transcripts from Thom's directories, it is first listed in 1849.
(2) According to Jones's transcripts, he first appears in this capacity in Thom's Directory for 1852; for plan of section of line in parish of Kilculliheen, see Rena Lohan, Guide to the Archives of the Office of Public Works (OPW, 1994), 62-63.  His engineer's report was published in Civil Engineer and Architect's Journal 17 (Jul 1854), 253.
(3) Listed as such in The Post Office Dublin Directory for 1853.
(4) DB 1, 1 Nov 1859, 148.
(5) According to Jones's transcripts, they are first listed as such in Thom's Directory for 1864.

1 work entries listed in chronological order for NIXON, CHARLES #

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Date: 1851
Nature: Cast iron construction. 4 spans of 110ft each. Opened 1851. Constructed by Fox Henderson & Co.
Refs: B 9, 18 Jan,31 May 1851, 46,346; R.C. Cox & M.H. Gould, Civil Engineering Heritage: Ireland (1998), 258-9(illus.)