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William Willcocks

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Title: William Willcocks  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Assiut Barrage, Hindiya Barrage, Willcocks, Aswan Low Dam, Aswan Dam
Collection: 1852 Births, 1932 Deaths, British Civil Engineers, Knights Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

William Willcocks

William Willcocks
William Willcocks
Born 27 September 1852
Died 28 July 1932
Cairo, Egypt
Nationality United Kingdom
Engineering career
Significant projects Aswan Low Dam, Assiut Barrage

Sir William Willcocks KCMG (27 September 1852, India – 28 July 1932, Cairo, Egypt) was a British civil engineer, during the high point of the British Empire. He was an irrigation engineer who proposed and built the first Aswan Dam, the scale of which had never been attempted previously.[1] He later undertook other major irrigation projects in South Africa and in Arab regions of the dying Ottoman Empire.


Willcocks was one of four sons of a British Engineer posted in Roorkee for KCMG.

He later became head of irrigation for the Ottoman Turkish government, for what was then the greater area of Turkish Arabia. He drew up the first accurate maps of the region, which were subsequently a great help to British expeditionary forces in 1914 and again in 1915. In 1911 he proposed to have the water brought to the ancient area of Chaldea in Southern Mesopotamia. The Hindiya Barrage was consequently built on the River Euphrates near ancient Babylon, bringing 3,500,000 acres (14,200 km2) under irrigation.[2] He worked on irrigation projects in Romania shortly before the outbreak of World War I, and again as late as 1928 in Bengal, where he had received some his early training.

In January 1921 he was put on trial before the Supreme Consular Court of Egypt on a charge of sedition and criminal libel, on account of statements made by him impugning the trustworthiness of the data concerning the Nile irrigation published by Murdoch Macdonald, adviser of the Egyptian Ministry of Public Works. He was found guilty March 11, and on April 16 he was bound over to be of good behaviour for one year.[3]

He died at the Anglo-American Hospital in Cairo.[4][5]


  1. ^ Frederic Courtland Penfield, Harnessing the Nile, Century Magazine, Vol. 57, No. 4 (February 1899)
  2. ^ "Willcocks, Sir William." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006.
  3. ^  
  4. ^ H. E. W. (January 1933). "Obituary: Sir William Willcocks". The Geographical Journal 81 (1): 94–5. 
  5. ^ "William Willcocks, Engineer Is Dead. Noted as Authority on Irrigation. Designed and Projected Assuan Dam on Nile. Had Served in India. Devised Irrigating System in Mesopotamia. Was Consultant in South Africa and This Country".  
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