Arthur Cotton

Arthur Cotton

Infobox Person
name = Arthur Cotton

image_size = 150px
caption = Arthur Cotton
birth_name =
birth_date = 15 May 1803
birth_place = Oxford
death_date = 25 July 1899
death_place = Dorking
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nationality = British
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General Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton (15 May 1803 Oxford – 25 July 1899 Dorking) was a British general and irrigation engineer.

Cotton devoted his life to the construction of irrigation and navigation canals through the Empire of India, which was only partially realised. He entered the Madras Engineers in 1819, and fought in the First Burmese War. Cotton was knighted in 1861.

An evangelist, he was the father of Elizabeth Hope.


Thomas Cotton went to attend an interview for the post of an engineer. There were three candidates including himself. All that the selectors told them was to have a 'good sleep' and were provided three separate beds. The candidates did what they were told. While the other two candidates slept happily, poor Cotton could not get a wink of sleep. However, after some time, he slept happily.

The next day, all the three were asked if they slept happily by the selectors. While all the three nodded in the affirmative, Cotton added that he felt restless while on the bed—bending down, he realised that one of the four legs of the bed was a little high. To his surprise he found a pound beneath one of the legs which he promptly removed. That was the "catch" set up by the selectors. [Rev. Premjit Kumar in an anecdote in a Sunday Worship Service in a Church in Vijayawada [] ]

His works

* The Godavari Canal System
* The Ganges Canal
* Dowleswaram Barrage

An insight

Sir Cotton was hated by his administrative superiors—thanks to his loving attitudes towards the people of India ["Please refer to Gautam Desiraju's letter to Current Science" [] ] . At one point impeachment proceedings were initiated by his superiors for his dismissal [Gautam Desiraju "op. cit."]

Going through the famine and cyclone-ravaged districts of Godavari, Cotton was distressed by the sight of famished people of the Godavari districts [The District of Godavari: Before and After Arthur Cotton worked his Magical Change [] p.77] . It was then that he put in process his ambitious plans to harness the waters of the mighty Godavari for the betterment of the humanity.

John Henry Morris in "Godavari" [ Descriptive and Historical Account of Godavari District in Madras Presidency [] page 109] writes about the work of Sir Cotton thus: "The Godavari anicut is, perhaps, the noblest feat of engineering skill which has yet been accomplished in British India. It is a gigantic barrier thrown across the river from island to island, in order to arrest the unprofitable progress of its waters to the sea, and to spread them over the surface of the country on either side, thus irrigating copiously land which has hitherto been dependent on tanks or on the fitful supply of water from the river. Large tracts of land, which had hitherto been left arid and desolate and waste, were thus reached and fertilized by innumerable streams and channels."

In 1878, Cotton had to appear before a House of Commons Committee to justify his proposal to build an anicut across the Godavari [S. Gurumurthi in the Business Line [] Godavari: Still a sleeping beauty] . A further hearing in the House of Commons followed by his letter to the then Secretary of State for India shows about his ambitiousness to built the anicut across the Godavari. His final sentence in that letter reads like this: "My Lord, one day's flow in the Godavari river during high floods is equal to one whole years' flow in the Thames River of London" [Gurumurthi "op. cit."] . Cotton was almost despaired by the British Government's procrastination in taking along this project.

That Government of India's plans to interlink rivers was long envisioned by Cotton is a fact ["Refer to Ch. Prashant Reddy's article in the Business Line [] ] .

While at Rajahmundry, Arthur Cotton used to attend the Church of the Godavari Delta Mission.

ee also

*List of reservoirs and dams in India
*Charles Phillip Brown, another beloved western by Telugu people, an administrator and patron of Telugu.

Some external links




;Further reading
* cite journal
author=Lady Hope
title="General Sir Arthur Cotton, His Life and Work"
issue=Reprint by Asian Educational Services []
url =

* cite journal
author=Ch. Prashant Reddy in the Business Line
title="National water grid - A hundred-year-old plan"
year=Wednesday, July 16, 2003
issue=Business Line
url =

* cite journal
author=S. Gurumurthi in the Business Line
title="Godavari - Still a sleeping beauty"
year=Monday, October 14, 2002
issue=Business Line
url =

* cite journal
author=Avilash Roul
title="INDIA'S WATER FUTURE - Are Interbasin Water Transfers a Solution?" in Eco-World
date=March14, 2006
url =

* cite journal
author=Gautam R. Desiraju
title="Sir Arthur Cotton" - Correspondence with Current Science
date=10 August 2003
url =

* Hots, Susan. (2008). "Cotton, General Sir Arthur Thomas." in "Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland. Volume 2: 1830-1890". p. 195-199. ISBN 9780727735041.

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