LENNOX, David (1788-1873)

LENNOX, David (1788-1873)
was born at Ayr, Scotland, in 1788. He became a stonemason. had much experience working on bridges designed by the well-known engineer, Thomas Telford, and possibly influenced by Dr Lang's emigration efforts, came to Australia as an ordinary passenger on the Florentia which arrived at Sydney on it August 1832. Soon afterwards he was found at work on the legislative council chambers by (Sir) T. L. Mitchell (q.v.), who obtained his appointment as sub-inspector of bridges at a salary of £120 a year. This seems to have been early recognized as inadequate pay for a man who had been a foreman on important work in England, and was now expected to be both a designer and supervisor. Governor Bourke (q.v.) in October 1834 stated that when Lennox had proved his competence he would recommend that his yearly salary should be increased to £200. Bourke, however, was slow in recognizing the worth of Lennox, for by July 1833 the first stone bridge in Australia had been completed at Lapstone Hill on the Bathurst Road, an excellent piece of work still standing a hundred years later. A more difficult piece of work was the bridge over Prospect Creek as it was subject to floods, but Lennox, using convict labour, succeeded in finishing it by January 1836, for the amazingly small sum of £1000. The length of the span was 110 feet and the width of the roadway 30 feet. Other important bridges followed in New South Wales, including the bridge at Parramatta, named Lennox Bridge after its designer. Lennox was also responsible for the Liverpool dam finished in 1836, and it is possible that he may have been the architect of St Andrew's Presbyterian church, Parramatta. He was appointed district surveyor to the Parramatta district council in November 1843, and in October 1844 he became superintendent of bridges at Port Phillip. On taking up his new duties at Melbourne his first piece of work was the building of a permanent bridge over the Yarra. Various plans had already been sent in, but Lennox prepared another with a single arch of 150 feet span which was adopted. It was completed about five years later, and formally opened on 15 November 1850. It was an excellent piece of work which looked as though it would last forever, but some 30 years later the approaches to the city were remodelled, and it was found necessary to pull down the old bridge and build a new one. Lennox was still at Melbourne when Victoria became a separate colony but he resigned his position in November 1853. His salary had remained at £250 a year until 1852, when it was raised to £300, and in 1853 to £600. On his retirement the Victorian government made him a grant of £3000. He returned to Sydney in June 1855 and built a house in Campbell-street, Parramatta, where he lived until his death on 12 November 1873. He was survived by a married daughter and her children, one of whom, Dr C. E. Rowling, afterwards practised as a physician at Parramatta and Mudgee.
Lennox was a quiet, modest man, a good tradesman and practical designer, with a talent for managing men and getting the best out of them. His bridges, simple in design, aesthetically excellent, and always suitable for their purposes, are monuments to a fine craftsman.
H. Selkirk, Journal and Proceedings Royal Australian Historical Society, vol. VI, pp. 201-43; Historical Records of Australia, ser. I, vol. XVII; Death notice Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 1873.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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