14 March 2015

James Marchbanks (1862–1947)

  • New Zealand Society of Civil Engineers annual conference, 1934 (detail). IPENZ.

James Marchbanks was born on 27 October 1862 and educated at Middle District School, Dunedin, and Otago University.

Marchbanks received his early engineering training under such eminent Public Works Department (PWD) engineers as William Blair, Peter Seton Hay, Charles Yelverton O'Connor and ER Ussher.

From the PWD, Marchbanks went to the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company, first as Resident Engineer, and later as Chief Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent. He remained with the company until 1908, when he was appointed Engineer to the Wellington Harbour Board.

Marchbanks’ long association with the Board as its General Manager and Chief Engineer until his retirement in 1932, coupled with his unfailing interest in engineering works and in the advancement of the profession, brought him a unique regard among his fellow engineers. Marchbanks was followed as the Board’s Chief Engineer by his son, Donald Stuart Gore Marchbanks (1901–1987).

In 1914 Marchbanks was a foundation Member of the New Zealand Society of Civil Engineers (now the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)). He will be remembered with affectionate esteem as the Honorary Treasurer of the Institution for many years.

Marchbanks passed away in 1947 after being confined to his house for a lengthy period by failing health following an accident.

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Proceedings of New Zealand Institution of Engineers, 1947, p.525