J. L. Macadam (1756–1836)


    THE centenary of the death of John Loudon Macadam, which occurs on November 26 (see p. 869), is a reminder of the debt we owe to that group of men who at a critical time in our industrial history were instrumental in making vast improvements in our means of transport. As one of this group, Macadam has a place beside Brindley, the Duke of Bridgewater, Telford, Rennie, Metcalf, Smeaton and others. Macadam was born in Ayr on September 23, 1756. He lost his father in 1770 and as a boy of fourteen years of age was sent to an uncle in New York. Thirteen years later he returned home comparatively well off, and settled down to the life of a country gentleman in his native country. It was as such he began his experiments on road-making, which were eventually to bring him fame if not fortune. It is not a little extraordinary, however, that his main work was done after reaching the age of sixty years, when he was made surveyor-general of roads to the Bristol Turnpike Trust. He resigned this position when sixty-nine, and two years later Parliament appointed him Surveyor-General of Roads. This position he held until his death at Dumcrieff House, Moffat, on November 26, 1836. At one time it is said he had no fewer than three hundred surveyors working under him. The importance of his work was fittingly commemorated at Ayr on October 30 last, when a bronze tablet erected by the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers was unveiled by Mr. Hore-Belisha, the Minister for Transport, and a paper on “John Loudon Macadam, Roadmaker” was read by Mr. G. S. Barry, the County Surveyor, Ayrshire.

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    J. L. Macadam (1756–1836). Nature 138, 874–875 (1936). https://doi.org/10.1038/138874c0

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