James Farrar

architect engineer
Place of Birth
Walmsley Bury

  • Born                      20  November 1825. Walmersley, Bury
  • Died                       18 April 1889.
  • Buried                    Bury Cemetery –CHECK location

 James Farrar was born at Walmersley, near Bury, on 20 of November 1825. At the commencement of his career he was for some time in the office of Mr Whitehead, a local solicitor of repute, and afterwards with Mr Harper, solicitor, also of Bury. He ultimately determined to follow the profession of surveyor and civil engineer and was for some time engaged upon local works of minor importance. Later he became an assistant to Mr (now Sir Robert) Rawlinson KCB Vice President Inst C E. and in 1863 he was appointed Borough Surveyor of Bury, a post which he retained until the incorporation of the Borough in 1876. During his tenure of office, he carried out many important sanitary works, including a system of main drainage, the purchase of land and the construction of a town’s yard where the whole municipal work was centralised. In the period of depression following the cotton famine, he designed and carried out as relief work Bury Cemetery, “laid out in a most tasteful manner.” On this and two other projects he worked in partnership with Henry Styan, architect.

With a rapidly growing reputation, he was soon engaged upon most of the Parliamentary fights for water and railway Bills in Lancashire and Yorkshire, chief amongst these being the Sheffield, Bury, Wakefield, Southport and Haslingden Water Schemes. Meanwhile he was consulted by most of the newly-formed local authorities in the neighbourhood of Bury as to the sanitary requirements of their districts, and was ultimately appointed Engineering Advisor to the Radcliffe, Whitefield, Heywood, Little Lever, and Dwygyfylchi Local Boards and to the Rural Sanitary Authorities of Conway and Bury, and many other towns, preparing and carrying out drainage and other schemes. He was scarcely less sought after for advice on water supply and was actively engaged upon the construction of some portions of the Bury and Radcliffe Water Company’s Works, the Haslingden and Rawtenstall Water Works Company’s Reservoir, two companies which ultimately united. He also enlarged and re-modelled the water supply to the town of Conway and other places on the Welsh coast. The last work upon which he was engaged was the construction of the Todmorden Water Works, which consisted of a reservoir with a capacity of 100,000,000 gallons, and the conveyance and distribution of the water in the town and district, the latter part of the scheme being a most tedious and difficult work, owing to the intersections of the roads by culverts, bridges pipes and old works of all descriptions. The cost of the undertaking was about £50,000.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on 11 May 1869 and transferred to Member on the 7th of January 1879. He was a Fellow of the Surveyors’ Institution, a Justice of the Peace for the Borough of Bury, and a director of the Southport Water Works Company and of the Manchester and Liverpool District Banking Company.

By the end of 1888 Farrar was in failing health. After being confined to his bed for nine weeks, he died of Bright’s disease and dropsy on the 18 April 1889. Effects £47,998 16s 6d.

1866-1882    James Farrar, surveyor and architect. 12 Market Street, Bury
1886-1888    James Farrar, 12 Market Street, Bury and 8 King Street, Manchester

1881-1888    3 St Marie’s Gate, Manchester Road Bury

Reference    Minutes of the Proceedings Institute of Civil Engineers 1889. Obituary page 390-391


Name Designation Formed Dissolved Location
Farrar and Styan joint architects 1866 1869 Bury