born 23rd August 1869, Crossford, near Dunfermline, Fife, UK
died 1st November 1933, The Grove, 34 Buchanan Drive, Rutherglen, Lanarkshire, UK
Written by Eleanor Knowles, edited by Jane Joyce
in association with Professor Roland Paxton
Scotsman Adam Hunter spent his career working on civil and structural engineering projects round the world for major British contractor Sir William Arrol & Co Ltd. He was a pioneer in the fabrication and erection of large steel structures, and an authority on their design. Though not so well known today, he was acknowledged among his peers as one of the great structural steelwork engineers.
Hunter was born in the middle of the Victorian era — 100 years or so after steam pioneer Richard Trevithick
. In that time the world changed profoundly, perhaps more than in any previous 100-year period. Railways and motor vehicles became commonplace and communication became easier and faster — from letters to telegrams to telephones.
Engineering had changed too and steel was becoming more commonly used for construction. As an apprentice, Hunter worked on the iconic Forth Bridge
, the first large-scale use of steel in bridges. As Chief Engineer with Arrol, he is associated with the design and construction of many significant projects in Britain — especially in Scotland — and around the world, including London's Southwark Bridge
. His textbook, Bridge and Structural Engineers' Handbook
(first published in this form 1920) was the definitive work on the subject for some 60 years.
Hunter followed Sir William Arrol's own lead in developing prefabrication techniques, enabling considerable simplification of the construction of complicated structures. The major part of his work concerned road and rail bridges but other significant projects include industrial process buildings and giant cantilever cranes. He also worked on lock and dock gates, viaducts and power stations.
After his death, his contemporary Professor George Moncur remembered him in glowing terms, saying he had "a generous and genial disposition" and "was very highly esteemed by all who came in touch with him, not only for his great professional ability, but for his sterling worth and amiable personality".
main reference BDCE3
portrait of Adam Hunter
courtesy Roland Paxton