Samuel Jickell was born in Stockton-on-Tees, England. He was educated and trained in England and Europe before coming to New Zealand in the early 1880s. He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, London, in 1889.

After some private practice and contracting, Jickell was appointed City Engineer of Nelson in 1890. Among his works were the Rocks Road, the replacement of Saltwater Bridge and the abattoirs. He held this position until 1901, when he left, probably in irritation because after he had gone to great trouble to report fully on the question of additional water supply, the City Council called in Richard L. Mestayer to report on the same subject. He confirmed Jickell’s proposals.

From 1901 to 1904 Jickell was Borough Engineer to Petone, during which time he carried out the Borough gravitation water supply from the Korokoro Stream. He was appointed Borough Engineer to Palmerston North in 1904 and held this position for 15 years. Among the works he carried out at Palmerston North were the gravitation water supply from the slopes of the Tararua mountains and the waterborne sewerage system.

On resigning from his Borough position he set up in private practice, later going into partnership as Jickell and Gilmour. He did a range of work for private clients and local bodies, but the two jobs his name will be associated with were the improvements of the Manawatu Gorge road to the highway standards then anticipated, with all structures, executed in reinforced concrete; and the protection against flooding and draining of the district for the Makerua Drainage Board.

He was a founder and the first President of the Institute of Local Government Engineers, and then a founding Council member of the New Zealand Society of Civil Engineers in 1914. He retired in Palmerston North and died there on 7 May 1939.

More information


Frederick Furkert, Early New Zealand Engineers (Wellington:New Zealand Institution of Engineers, 1953), p.197.


WL Newnham, Learning Service Achievement (Wellington: New Zealand Institution of Engineers, 1971), pp.350–51.

Peter Lowe. ‘Jickell, Samuel,’ from the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography in the Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 23 October 2013.

Additional image gallery details

Crown Studio (Palmerston North): Photograph of Samuel Jickell, 1856-1939 [circa 1925]. Ref: PA12-2290. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. 

Officials at the laying of the Foundation Stone for the Petone Waterworks, 25 April 1903 [Samuel Jickell is standing behind four gentlemen on the left side of the image]. Godber, Albert Percy, 1875-1949: Collection of albums, prints and negatives. Ref: APG-0071-1/2-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand, must be obtained before any re-use of these images.