Biography: Bryan Donkin: The Very Civil Engineer, 1768-1855

The book Bryan Donkin: The Very Civil Engineer, 1768-1855 by Maureen Greenland and Russ Day has been published in 2016 by Phillimore Book Publishing. A copy may be ordered using the order form below. ISBN 978-0-9934680-1-8.

BD Book CoverTHE MONUMENTAL task of perfecting a machine for
making paper was achieved by one man: Bryan Donkin. It
transformed the industry, making a huge impact on society throughout Europe.

A born engineer, Donkin tackled a diversity of projects,
from renovating a dilapidated tide mill and patenting the
first steel pen, to constructing unique printing presses,
canning food and producing precision instruments.
Working alongside his famous fellow London engineers,
he contributed his intuitive expertise to practical problems with steam, water and precise measurement. Trusted by Telford and respected by the Brunels, Donkin advised on new technology for their grand schemes, experimenting and making equipment. Inventors asked for help with their contraptions and Charles Babbage, while struggling to complete  his calculating machine, begged him to arbitrate in a tricky situation.

Curiosity led Donkin to become a leading phrenologist; astronomy, too, was a passion. His knack of balancing business with pleasure allowed him a fulfilling family life.

The book offers insights into the world around Donkin: the poor tired children in the mills, the philanthropic wealthy, the recreations of the middle classes. There is something for everyone, from the historian and the engineering specialist to the inquisitive reader who likes a good story. This new book has 322 pages and 64 fine illustrations.

‘Here at last is the major book on the life and work of the pioneering Bryan Donkin that we have all been waiting for.’
Alex Werner, Head of History Collections, Museum of London.
‘A long-overdue appraisal of this important London engineer and his many significant projects.’
Ben Russell, Curator of Mechanical Engineering, Science Museum, London.

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