02 February 2016

Rob Aspden

Hugh Vickerman (1880–1960)

  • Hugh Vickerman, circa 1935. Past Presidents Album. IPENZ.
  • Photograph of New Zealand Research Council, 1936. Ref: PAColl-2818. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Hugh Vickerman was born on 20 December 1880 and died on 23 October 1960. Vickerman was President of the New Zealand Institution of Engineers (now the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)) in 1935–36.

Vickerman was born in Whangarei and went to Auckland Grammar School before studying engineering at Auckland and Victoria University Colleges.

He joined the Public Works Department (PWD) as an engineering cadet in 1900 and was later involved with the construction of the North Island Main Truck railway, as well as the Midland Railway and the Otira Tunnel. Between 1909 and 1913 he was the PWD’s Resident Engineer in Canterbury.

In 1909 Vickerman became an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (United Kingdom), becoming a Member in 1924. He was also an early Member of the New Zealand Society of Civil Engineers (now the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand, (IPENZ)), joining in late 1914.

He had a distinguished record in World War One, rising to the rank of Major. He left New Zealand with the Main Body and was the officer commanding the New Zealand Engineers Tunnelling Company in France in 1916. He was mentioned in dispatches in 1917 and received the Distinguished Service Order in 1918. In that year he became attached to the Third Army as acting controller of mines, but later rejoined the Tunnelling Company. Vickerman was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services in France.

Prior to World War One, Vickerman had been an Officer and Staff Engineer at the PWD’s Head Office in Wellington and when he returned to New Zealand he was promoted to Inspecting Engineer. In 1921, Vickerman joined FC Hay and John Gill Lancaster in private practice in Wellington (the firm later practised as Vickerman and Lancaster). He remained active in the practice for many years.

Vickerman was involved in the war effort in New Zealand during World War Two. In December 1940 he was appointed officer commanding the Composite Works Company, New Zealand Engineers. Later he was Commanding Officer of New Zealand Defence Engineers Service Corps, Wellington Company. He retired from this position in 1943.


More information

Further reading

Obituary,” Institution of Civil Engineers Proceedings, Vol. 22:2 (1 June 1962), p 255.  

“Obituary,” New Zealand Engineering, January 1961, p 36.

Additional image gallery details

New Zealand Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Photograph of New Zealand Research Council, 1936. Ref: PAColl-2818. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Vickerman is standing on the right of the photograph.

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.