Alexander Masterton (1856-1924)

Alexander Masterton (1856-1924)

Civil Engineer and Gas Manager

Alexander Masterton was trained as a civil engineer and rose steadily in the ranks of his employer, Edinburgh Corporation's Gas Department. He seems to have been a popular member of the community, and active in his professional associations.


Alexander Masterton was the seventh child and third son of Alexander Masterton and Ann Dickson. They belong to the large group of Mastertons from around the Cramond and Kirkliston area. The brother referred to in the article below was his eldest brother James who was a retired wood merchant and, like Alexander, never married. James survived a further 5 years or so after Alexander's death. A fuller genealogy of the extended family of Alexander Masterton can be found at this link.

The first annual general meeting of the Scottish Junior Gas Association (Eastern District) was held on Saturday afternoon in the drawing office of the gasworks, Granton. The president (Mr Alex Masterton) presided over an attendance of about 100. In his opening address he gave a history of the movement which had resulted in the formation of the Association, which, he said, had a membership of about 100. Speaking of the education and training of a gas engineer he urged that a thoroughly qualified gas engineer should be educated in civil and mechanical engineering, chemistry, construction and design, and the management and commercial administration of a gas undertaking. As to the question whether it was worth one's while to adopt the gas industry as a means of livelihood, he said he should be disposed to answer in the affirmative. He was aware that a general idea had got abroad that gas had receded into the background since the advent of electricity for illuminating and other purposes, but in order to disprove that fallacy, he should quote statistical facts from the Board of Trade returns. In 1893 - 10 years ago - the number of gas undertakings throughout the United Kingdom was 620, and in 1902 it rose to 710, thereby making an increase of 14 per cent., and this occurred during the period in which the electric industry might be said to have made its most rapid development. Again gas manufacture, during the same years, was augmented 45 per cent., the number of consumers 70 per cent., and, perhaps, what was more astonishing still, public lamps 25 per cent. Then the authorised share, loan and annuity capital in 1893 amounted to, in round numbers, 82 1/2 millions, and in 1902, 133 1/2 millions, an increase of 51 millions, or 62 per cent. From those statements, they must conclude that there was still a prosperous future for them, as the use of gas for incandescent lighting, domestic and industrial purposes, was even on the increase. Mr Masterton then gave a description of the works which they were about to inspect. Thereafter the company were conducted over the works, and at the close a cordial vote of thanks was awarded to the Edinburgh and Leith Corporation Gas Commissioners and their engineer and manager, Mr W.R. Herring.

The Scotsman
3rd October 1904




The COMMISSIONERS beg to intimate that on and after the 19th February 1912, the price of their GAS COKE and COKE NUTS will be raised by 1s. per Ton on all Ratings.

ALEXANDER MASTERTON, Engineer and Manager. 15 Calton Hill, 17th February 1912.

The Scotsman
17th February 1912

A motor ambulance costing about 400, the outcome of a movement by the North British Association of Gas Managers, was handed over in Glasgow yesterday to the Scottish branch of the British Red Cross Society. The ceremony took place in George Square at the principal entrance to the City Chambers, the waggon being opened up for the inspection of the subscribers, of whom a considerable number attended. The presentation was made by Mr Alexander Masterton, President of the Association, and manager to the Edinburgh and Leith Gas Commissioners. Mr W.J. Anderson, in accepting the gift on behalf of the Society, said that at the present time the Scottish branch had 174 motor ambulances on the Continent, including 60 which they presented to the Government, and all these were manned by men from Scotland. At Rouen alone they had 89 ambulance waggons, which conducted the whole of the ambulance work of that important centre, and they had employed there between 80 and 90 men. In one recent month they carried 10,830 patients, involving a mileage of upwards of 19,000 miles. At home, in Scotland, they had 49 ambulance waggons in the service of the wounded soldiers.

The Scotsman
3rd February 1916

It was reported at a meeting of Edinburgh Corporations Gas Committee yesterday that twenty-one applications had been received for the post of manager of the gas undertaking, which will become vacant on the retirement of Mr Masterton. The applications will be considered later.

The Scotsman
11th February 1921

The death took place, in the early hours of Sunday, of Mr Alexander Masterton, who about three years ago, retired from the position of manager of the Edinburgh Corporation Gas Department, after a long period of faithful service to the city. Mr Masterton was apparently in good health on Friday, and news of his sudden death will be heard with regret by a wide circle of friends. He came in from Corstorphine, where he resided, with his brother, in order to witness the ceremony of changing the guard at Edinburgh Castle on Friday forenoon, and was suddenly seized with illness and collapsed on the Castle Esplanade. He was taken to the Royal Infirmary, and never rallied.
Mr Masterton's association with the Corporation service covered a long period. He was a capable and trusted servant, and his helpful and genial disposition made many friends, both in Corporation circles and amongst the public outside. He was a man of strong personality, diligent and thorough in matters of duty, and kindly and sincere in character. A native of Edinburgh, he received his early training as a civil engineer in the office of Mr McCrae, and after some experience in Fife he entered the service of the old Gas Lighting Company as a draughtsman at an early age. His advancement was steady and sure; and while his work grew in importance and responsibility, the undertaking itself steadily developed to its present position of importance in the city's economy. He became in turn assistant engineer, staff manager (a position which he occupied when the old buildings in New Street were still in use), and, finally, chief engineer and manager. He took an important share in the work connected with the erection and equipment of the new gas buildings at Granton, which formed a notable advance on the previous producing plant.
Mr Masterton, who was 68 years of age, was never married.

The Scotsman
7th July 1924

MASTERTON - At Edinburgh, on 6th instant, after two days' illness, ALEXANDER MASTERTON, late engineer and manager, Edinburgh and Leith Corporation Gas Department. Funeral private. (No flowers by request.)

The Scotsman
8th July 1924