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British Industrial History

Frederick Dale Banister

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Frederick Dale Banister (1823-1898), Engineer.

117 Denmark Hill, London. [1]

MICE engineer to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. [2]


1898 Obituary [3]

FREDERICK DALE BANISTER was born in London on the 15th March, 1823, and was educated at private schools, and, on his parents removing to Lancashire, at Preston Grammar School.

At the age of fifteen he was articled to Mr. John J. Myres, of Preston, with whom he remained six years, gaining during that time considerable experience in surveying and levelling, and in the valuation of damage caused to various properties by the construction of railways.

His introduction to actual railway practice took place in the year 1844, when he was occupied under Charles E. Cawley in setting out the first few miles of the Manchester, Bury and Rossendale line, afterwards amalgamated with the East Lancashire Railway, and during the following year he was engaged in preparing the surveys for, and in assisting to carry through Parliaqent, the extension of that line, now forming part of the Lancashire and Yorkshire system.

His health becoming indifferent, he was advised to try a change to the South of England. In the spring of 1846, therefore, he visited some relatives in Brighton, and was fortunate enough to obtain an appointment in the service of the London and Brighton Company, under Robert Jacomb-Hood.

In the following year he was placed in charge of the construction of the branch from New Cross to the Thames at Deptford, with a dock at the latter place.

On the completion of that work, in 1849, Mr. Banister retired from the railway staff and established himself at Brighton in general practice as a Civil Engineer and Architect. During the succeeding ten years he designed and carried out severalw orks of local importance, amongst these being the development of the Cliftonville Estate, the construction of waterworks-afterwards sold to the Railway Company-and the building of model dwellings for the labouring classes. During his residence at Brighton he was in close touch with the Railway Company, being constantly engaged in preparing plans for new lines, since constructed, and in carrying out various engineering works.

In the year 1860, on the retirement or Mr. R. Jacemb-Hood, Mr. Banister was appointed Chief Resident Engineer to the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway Company, and in that capacity was identified with all the extensions and important works undertaken by the Company during the following thirtyfive years, several of these being of a very heavy and costly charact,er. The South London Extension to London Bridge involved l.5 mile of viaduct for three lines of rails, and some heavy iron bridges, one being a bow-string-girder bridge of 186 feet span over Messrs. Bacon’s tannery. This extension necessitated the enlargement of London Bridge Station and the construction of a new roof, which were likewise carried out from the designs and under the superintendence of Mr. Banister. He also rebuilt the station at Brighton, acnodn structed the Newhaven and Seaford, the Sutton and Epsom Downs, the Tunbridge Wells and Eastbourne, the Chichester and Midhurst, the Croydon, Oxted, East Grinstead and Tunbridge Wells lines, the Portsmouth extension and the Ryde Pier railway.

One of the most important undertakings with which Mr. Banister was associated was the harbour at Newhaven. In the year 1878 a scheme was prepared byh im for the creation of an outward harbour and extensive inner works, and was laid before the Railway Board and Harbour Commissioners. Mr. Banister’s plans mere approved, and, parliamentary powers being obtained, the works were ordered to be commenced at once. They were designed and carried out under his personal direction, without the intervention of contractors, and included the provision of additional quay accommodation, the construction of new sea-walls, entrance piers and lighthouses, and the building of a massive concrete breakwater, extending seawards for a distance of 800 yards. The entrance channel was also widened and deepened, so as to admit of the Company’s steamers passing in and out at all states of the tide. The results of these important works have been the reclamation from the sea of several acres of land, a great improvement in the working of the continental traffic of the Company, and a large increase generally in the shipping trade and business of the town of Newhaven. These improvements were described by Mr. A. E. Carey, who acted as Resident Engineer on the works, in a Paper read before the Institution in 1886.

Mr. Banister was also largely responsible for the carrying out of the difficult work of widening the line from Victoria Station to Streatham, the rebuilding of East Croydon Station, and the widening of the main line from East Croydon to Coulsdon. This was, in fact, the last work upon which he was engaged, for in January, 1896, he retired, the Directors placing on record their appreciation of the long and valuable services rendered by him to the Company.

Mr. Banister died at his residence, Forest Row, Sussex, on the 22nd December, 1897. He was of a warm-hearted and genial disposition, and a staunch friend. He was always kind and considerate to others, especially to those over whom he had authority, and was regarded with deep respect and esteem by all whose lot it was to work with or under him. He was elected an Associate Member on the 5th February 1861, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 13th March, 1866.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1880/08/13
  2. The Engineer 1881/10/21
  3. 1898 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries