John Frederick La Trobe Bateman

The engineer John Frederick La Trobe Bateman FRS built many of the local reservoirs.

He was born at Lower Wyke, the eldest son of John Frederick Bateman [1772-1851] and Mary Agnes La Trobe [1772-1848] who was the daughter of a Moravian minister and a descendant of a Huguenot family.

He became apprentice to Mr Dunn, a surveyor and engineer from Oldham. In 1834, he set up in business as a civil engineer and land surveyor in Manchester.

He was involved with schemes to supply water in Spain, Turkey, Ceylon and Egypt.

He worked with G. H. Hill and J. Paskin on several local reservoirs, including Widdop Reservoir, Albert Reservoir, Dean Head Reservoirs, Mixenden Reservoir, Ogden Reservoir, Ramsden Wood Reservoir and Fly Flatts Reservoir

He liked the use of gravitational systems to control the flow of water, as this avoided the use of pumps.

In 1841, he married Anne Fairbairn [1817-1894].


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In 1869, he was invited to attend the opening of the Suez Canal, and the pylon-like design of the valve tower at Widdop Reservoir reminds us that Bateman was interested in Egyptian matters.

In a visit to Italy, he saw how the Romans built aqueducts and other methods to control water supplies. He adopted their siphon system to connect Widdop Reservoir and Ramsden Wood Reservoir,

In 1883, he adopted his mother's maiden name – becoming John Frederick La Trobe-Bateman – as a compliment to his grandfather Benjamin La Trobe

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 15:45 / 16th July 2023 / 3650

Page Ref: X388

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