William Bald

1789 - 1857

Engineer, surveyor and cartographer. Born in Burntisland (Fife), the cousin of the noted mining engineer Robert Bald (1776 - 1861), in 1803 he was apprenticed to the surveyor John Ainslie (1745 - 1828) who he assisted by surveying the islands of Harris, Benbecula and South Uist at age of only 16. In 1809, Bald was appointed to undertake a trigonometrical survey of County Mayo in Ireland and the map he produced is highly regarded. Amongst other projects in Ireland he made improvements to the River Boyne and the harbour at Drogheda and built Ireland's first suspension bridge at Kenmare in County Kerry. In the 1820s he undertook surveying work in France, Italy and Holland, before returning to Ireland where he built the Antrim coast road between 1832 and 1842, a remarkable achievement. He was based in Glasgow between 1845 and 1850.

Bald gained several honours through his long career; he was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of London (1816), a Member of the Royal Irish Academy (1822), a Member of the Societe de Geographie of Paris (1827), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1829) and was awarded a gold medal by the French Government following his improvements to the River Seine.

Bald died in London where he lies buried in Highgate Cemetery. He is remembered by a plaque on the railway viaduct in Burntisland, where the house in which he was born once stood, and a memorial on the Antrim Road.

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