Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

City surveyor for Derry City from 1874 until 1909. William James Robinson was born in Fintona, Co. Donegal. After serving as an assistant county surveyor for Co. Tyrone under ARTHUR CHARLES ADAIR ARTHUR CHARLES ADAIR , he was appointed city surveyor for Derry City in 1874 in succession to JOHN W. MCCARTER JOHN W. MCCARTER . Four years later he applied for the post of street surveyor of Dublin, not, as he explained to his employers because he considered his salary of £300 per annum too small but because he 'wished for a larger field'.(1) He was unsuccessful in his application, however, and remained in his post at Derry almost until the end of his life, to be succeeded by MATTHEW ALEXANDER ROBINSON. MATTHEW ALEXANDER ROBINSON. (2) No works by him apart from a filter bed at Rosemount, Derry,(3) are recorded in the Irish Builder.

William Robinson resigned on account of failing health on 5 February 1909(4) and died five weeks later on 13 March. He is credited in his obituary with being 'the first Irish engineer to express his faith in the value of the steam roller in road-making by practical use of the (then) new invention', though WILLIAM COLLEN  WILLIAM COLLEN seems to have been equally pioneering in this regard. He was survived by a widow.(5) One of his sons, W.J. Robinson, was appointed assistant engineer to the Government of Newfoundland in 1911,(6) another was JOHN M. ROBINSON. JOHN M. ROBINSON. (7) His pupils and assistants included VALENTINE DENIS DOYLE.  VALENTINE DENIS DOYLE.

Incorporated Association of Municipal and County Engineers: elected member, May 1886.
RSAI: elected member 2 Aug 1888.(8)



All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the obituaries of Robinson in IB 51, 20 Mar 1909, 178, and Proceedings of the Association of Municipal & County Engineers 35 (1908-9), 340-341, both of which are taken from an obituary in the Derry Standard.

(1) This is related in an editorial on corruption in Dublin Corporation in IB 20, 15 Jun 1878, 171, according to which Derry Corporation offered to increase his salary to £400.
(2) There is no indication that the two men were related.
(3) IB 31, 15 Nov 1889, 288.
(4) IB 51, 20 Feb 1909, 122.
(5) IB 51, 3 Apr 1909, 217.
(6) IA & C 1, 1 Apr 1911, 140; IB 53, 15 Apr 1911, 257.
(7) See note 1, above.
(8) JRSAI 18 (1887-1888), 421.

2 work entries listed in chronological order for ROBINSON, WILLIAM JAMES

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Date: 1885
Nature: Extension by 'Stewart and Robinson'. (probably WJR)
Refs: IB 27, ? ? 1885, 111

Date: 1889
Nature: Constructed by WJR for Derry Corporation. For town water supply from Creggan reservoir. Clerk of Works: John M. Robinson (son).
Refs: IB 31, 15 Nov 1889, 288.