Spring 2005 (13.1)
Lindley British Engineer
Few Azerbaijanis today
know who engineered Baku's most reliable source of water a century
ago. The Shollar pipeline, which originates at a water source
in the Caucasus Mountains near Guba approximately 110 miles (177
km) north of Baku, is still lauded as far superior to all other
water systems in Central Baku for its quality and reliability
The documentation of such achievements is published in an 811-page
book by Polish historian Ryszard Zelichowski called "Lindleyowie"
(The Lindleys. The Story of a Family of Engineers). British
civil engineer William Heerlein Lindley (1853-1917) coordinated
the project for Baku's water supply system, working from 1899
up until his death in 1917.
Dr. Zelichowski was in search of trying to understand the relationship
between hygiene and city engineering in 19th-century Warsaw when
he discovered that its major water supply and sewage systems
had been designed by British engineer William Lindley (1808-1900).
Together father William Lindley and his three sons were involved
in designing or consulting on the water supply and sewage systems
for 48 European cities.
Through extensive research, Zelichowski traced Lindley's eldest
son to the waterworks in Baku who is quoted as saying that Baku's
water supply was "one of the most challenging projects he
had ever undertaken in his entire life." At the end of the
19th century, the water shortage problem had become so severe
in Baku because of the Oil Boom. City planners had exhausted
all known solutions, from channeling water from nearby rivers
to building desalination plants.
Zelichowski's study is part of a growing body of literature referred
to as "Euro - Biography". His research identifies two
major trends in Victorian engineering: (1) the incredible progress
made by Western civilization, thanks to the ingenuity of these
engineers in designing filtration systems for drinking water
and in creating indoor plumbing, and (2) the profound legacy
of these engineers as the first "true" Europeans who
became deeply engaged in multi - culturalism for the benefit
of the entire region. In today's lingo, we might have called
them "Engineers Without Borders".
Ryszard Zelichowski. "Lindleyowie" (in Polish, "The
Lindleys: The Story of a Family of Engineers"), Warsaw 2002,
811 pages. The author is hoping to publish this volume in English.
Consult "The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography"
(Oxford 2004), a 60 - volume edition, for two articles in English
about the Lindleys - father and son (Volume 33). The Dictionary,
compiled by an impressive team of scholars, is considered one
of the world's major biographical reference works and is expected
to serve readers and researchers for the next 30-40 years until
the next edition is published.
For more about the Lindleys and Azerbaijan, see "Water -
Not a Drop to Drink. How Baku Got Its Water, The British Link:
William H. Lindley" by Ryszard Zelichowski in AI 10.2 (Summer
2002). Search at AZER.com.
Dr. Zelichowski is Professor of History with the Institute of
Political Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw,
Poland. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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