Joseph Mitchell

1803 - 1883

Civil engineer. Joseph Mitchell was born in Forres and educated in Inverness Academy and in Aberdeen. He assisted Thomas Telford (1757 - 1834) in the construction of the Caledonian Canal and went on to hold the post of Inspector of Highland Roads and Bridges for 40 years from 1824. He was responsible for creating the network of parliamentary roads. As engineer to the Scottish Fisheries Board, he was responsible for improving many harbours throughout the country. He is perhaps best remembered for the surveying and construction of railways in the Highlands, first the Inverness & Nairn Railway in 1855 and then the line between Perth and Inverness, which was built in a remarkably short time thanks to his knowledge of the terrain and attention to detail. This was fully open by 1863 and was to stimulate the growth of settlements as trade and tourism developed along its length - Pitlochry, Newtonmore, Kingussie, Aviemore, Grantown on Spey and Forres would become both service centres and holiday resorts.

Mitchell served as Engineer to the Highland Railway, assisted by a young Murdo Paterson (1826-98). He wrote a two-volume work Reminiscences of my Life in the Highlands published in 1883. His home was Viewhill in Inverness.

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