Steamindex home page
The Cubitt families (see important letter from David Cubitt) came from near Dilham where the Broads meet the higher land of North Norfolk and were millwrights and presumably enjoyed the benefits of working on both wind and water driven mills. The village is situated on the North Walsham & Dilham Canal, one of the few traditional canals in Norfolk. The families certainly contributed to the civil and mechanical engineering of the major railways of the middle of the nineteenth century. Kevin Jones, having lived in North Norfolk for over a decade considers that the Cubitt genius probably lay in the topography of their birthplace and the heritage of Medieval building and art, generated by the riches of the wool trade which had led to the magnificent churches at Worstead, Happisburgh, Cromer and elsewhere and the huge barns as at Paston. .
Buchanan, R. Angus. Engineering
dynasties in transport history. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2004,
Includes a very useful family tree of the Cubitt family: NB the author used Marshall & DNB.
Engineering dynasties.: Cubitt. David Cubitt.
J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2005,
There is no evidence that Joseph and Jonathan Cubitt were brothers. Joseph was a son of Richard Cubitt (1729?-1800) who married Martha Temple at Worstead in 1746. Joseph was a miller successively at Dilham, Southrepps and Bacton Wood. He was father of [Sir] William and Benjamin Cubitt. Jonathan was a carpenter and joiner whose father was William (1725-1802) a butcher of Swannington: he married Mary Hall at Mattishall in 1747. Their sons included Thomas, William and Lewis. Jonathan had been resident at Buxton (Norfolk) before becoming bankrupt in Yarmouth. The writer cautions that shared surnames and same general geographical background should not lead to the supposition that relationships existed..
Engineering dynasties.: Cubitt. Peter Brown. J. Rly Canal Hist. Soc., 2005, 35, 56.
Questions whether William Cubitt was a Partner in Ransomes of Ipswich.
John Marshall states that Benjamin Cubitt was born at Dilham, Norfolk in 1795 (Brown states previous year, as does David Cubitt who states that he was Baptised at Southrepps) into a family which became noted for its civil engineers. He died in London on 12 January 1848 aged 53 as Locomotive Engineer, GNR. He was the son of Joseph Cubitt (Miller of Bacton Wood) and brother of William Cubitt to whom he was apprenticed as millwright. Later became foreman of the works of John Penn at Greenwich. His next appointment was in charge of the engine and machinery works of Fenton, Murray & Jackson, Leeds, remaining there for nearly 10 years. He then moved to the same position at the works of Peter Rothwell at Bolton in 1833 after Benjamin Hick had left the concern. After ten years he left to take charge of the locomotive department of the Joint Committee for the Croydon, Brighton and Dover Railways, of the last of which his brother William was chief engineer. Following the separation of the three companies he was appointed Locomotive Superintendent of the newly formed GNR at a salary of £750 per annum (rising to £1000 per annum) on 3 November 1846 until his death in office. He prepared temporary shops for the company at Boston, ordered carriages for the East Lincolnshire Railway and the GNR from Walter Williams of London. From Sharp, Roberts & Co, Manchester, he ordered fifty 2-2-2s and from R & W Hawthorn Newcastle, twenty 2-2-2s and fifteen 0-4-2s. He recommended a gauge of 5ft 3in to the Gauge Commission. Elected MICE 1843.
Min Proc Instn Civ. Engrs., 1849, 8, p 10; .
F.A.S. Brown, Great Northern Locomotive Engineers, Vol. 1. (1966)
Joseph Cubitt was born at Horning, Norfolk, on 24 November 1811; and died in London on 7 December1872. He was civil engineer on the GNR, SER and other railways. He was the only son (see David Cubitt who states that he had a step-brother, William, born in 1830) of Sir William Cubitt. He was apprenticed at Fenton, Murray & Jackson, Leeds, where his uncle Benjamin Cubitt was engineer. After 2 years he went to assist his father on the SER until 1846 when he became chief engineer, GNR, again under his father. On his father's retirement in 1855 he became consulting engineer to the GNR. Other works included the SER Ashford Canterbury Ramsgate and Margate line, completed in 1846; the LCDR from 1853; Oswestry & Newtown Railway, completed 1860; Rhymney Railway 1857-8; Weymouth pier; and the Carmarthen & Cardigan Railway 1860-4. He was consulting engineer to many other projects including from 1860 the extension of the LCDR over Blackfriars Bridge into the City of London, opended 6.11.1869. Elected MICE 21.1.1840. Min Proc Instn Civ. Engrs, 1874-5, 39, 248-51. ODNB entry by Hermione Hobhouse (included with Sir William)..
Lewis Cubitt was born in Norfolk in September 1799 and died in Brighton on 9 June 1883 aged about 84. (ODNB entry by Richard John), He was the youngest son of Jonathan Cubitt; but not the nephew of Sir William Cubitt, [Biddle correctly states that Lewis was unrelated to the other Cubitts] brother of Thomas (1788-1855), the founder of what Jackson calls the famous building firm, and William (1791-1863). He was a pupil of H.B. Kendall. In 1842 he designed the frontage of Bricklayers Arms station, SER, London, opened on 1st May 1844. He is best remembered as architect of the superb Kings Cross station (where he worked with the engineers Joseph and William Cubitt, GNR, London, and the goods warehouse, 1851-2, and of the Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross, 1854, and the Digswell or Welwyn Viaduct.. See as also . Alan Jackson's London's Termini
Biddle, Gordon.: Britain's historic railway buildings. 2003.
Sir William Cubitt
William Cubitt was born and Baptised in Dilham, Norfolk, in 1785, and died in Clapham Common, London, on 13 October 1861, aged 76. He was the son of Joseph Cubitt, miller, of Bacton Wood near Dilham. He became millwright at Horning, Norfolk where he invented and patented self-regulating windmill sails in 1807. From 1812-21 he was employed by Ransome & Son of Ipswich, agricultural implement makers, and was a partner between 1821 and 1826 (Peter Brown disputes this). In 1817 he invented the treadmill, at once adopted in the main British gaols. From 1826 to 1858 he practised as a civil engineer in London. He designed the Oxford canal improvements and the Birmingham & Liverpool Junction (now Shropshire Union) canal.
From 1836 to 1846 he built the South Eastern Railway. The biggest operation was blasting down the face of Round Down Cliff with one charge of 18 000lb (8 165kg) of gunpowder exploded electrically on 26 January 1843. The work included Shakespeare Cliff tunnel, 1387yd (l268m).
On 23 September 1844 he was appointed consulting engineer to the London & York (GNR) following the resignation of Locke, until his retirement in 1855. Nock (Railway engineers), in one of his more creative pieces of writing (fully worthy of Hamilton Ellis) records Denison's night time call on Cubitt to seek his engineering support. He superintended the construction of the Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition of 1851, for which he was knighted at Windsor Castle on 23 October 1851. He built two large floating landing stages on the Mersey at Liverpool and the iron bridge across the Medway at Rochester.
In case there is risk of seeing Cubbitt as infallible it is worth noting that he was the engineer of the London & Croydon Railway and a forceful advocate of the atmospheric system. Dendy Marshall History of the Southern Railway (rev. Kidner) pp. 45-6.
Elected MICE 1823; Member of Council 1831; Vice President 1836; President
1850-2; FRS 1.April1830.
Biography by Peter Brown in Chrimes Biographiacl dictionary.
ODNB entry by Hermione Hobhouse
Obituary Min Proc Instn Civ Engrs, 1862, 21, 554-8.
Williams, F. S., Our iron Roads 2nd edn 1883 pp 123-6.
Shakespeare Tunnel , Dover, is 1387 yards long: William Cubitt was the engineer. One million tons of chalk were brought into the sea via an explosion. Shakespeare tunnel. Roger St Clair. Backtrack, 8, 80. or The Big Bang! Arthur R. Nicholls. Backtrack, 14, 182-5.
Born at Buxton, near Aylsham (Norfolk) on 25 February 1788, the eldest son of Jonathan Cubitt (17601807), a Norfolk carpenter. He trained as a carpenter, and took one voyage to India as a ship's carpenter. With the proceeds he set up in business on his own in Holborn. In 1810 his brother William Cubitt (17911863). Cubitt died on 20 December 1855 at Denbies House of cancer of the throat, and was buried in Norwood cemetery. He left property in real and personal estate worth over £1 million. Ms Hobhouse's biography gives the impression that Thomas Cubitt did not appear to be involved in railway works. Joby makes it clear that he was involved in the southern part of the London & Birmingham Railway. ODNB entry by Hermione Hobhouse.
Cubitt, William (17911863)
Building contractor and politician, brother of Thomas, was born at Buxton, near Aylsham, Norfolk, in April 1791. Ms Hobhouse mentions his involvement in the West London Railway, but Joby makes it clear that the Cubitts (William with his brother Thomas) were involved in much railway activity, but that they tend to be remembered for their grander works. Cubitt Town, London, is derived from this William. He died at Penton Lodge on 28 October 1863. ODNB entry by Hermione Hobhouse..
Much later family venture
The Cubitt motor car business based briefly in Aylesbury. See Malcolm Bobbitt: Archive, 2016, (92). 38. and letter from John McGuinness in Archive, 2017 (94) 37.