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Alfred Ewald Schmid

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Alfred Ewald Schmid (1831-1880)

Born in Pimlico

1880 Obituary [1]

MR. ALFRED EWALD SCHMID was born in Pimlico, London, on the 23rd of November, 1831.

When eight years of age he was sent to Germany to be educated at the Institute in Kornthal, near Stuttgart, where he remained until he attained his fifteenth year.

On returning to England, he was placed under Mr. John Turner, architect and surveyor, by whom he was employed upon the drawings for the restoration of St. Stephen’s Church, Walbrook, a work of Sir Christopher Wren.

Six years later a severe illness compelled him (much to his regret) to abandon his studies for a time, and to seek for a re-establishment of health in the purer air of Switzerland. After a brief residence at Geneva, he moved to Lyons, where, under Mr. Dardel, town architect, he was engaged on the works at the Hotel de Ville of that city, distinguishing himself by his skill in drawing, and assisting with projects for the Rue Imperiale, and other improvements. From Lyons he passed to Pont d‘Aix, where he took service with the Belgian contractors, Messrs. Denis, Bourdon, and Co. (representatives of Messrs. Fox and Henderson), with whom he remained from May 1854 to November 1856, employed on the works of the Lyons, Bourg, and Macon portion of the Lyons and Geneva railway.

Going afterwards to the South of Spain, he was there engaged for a period of five years (November 1856 to September 186l), under Messrs. Savalite, Manby and Co., in the construction of the Seville and Cordova railway. During the winter of 1861-2 he was occupied upon studies, for the contractors for the Ciudad Real and Badajoe railway, of a branch line from Medellin to Logrosan. Thence he proceeded to Italy for Messrs. York and Co., to superintend, as Managing Engineer, the construction of the Rome and Ancona railway.

From the spring of 1865 to 1873 he was principally engaged by Mr. J. O. York, upon surveys, projects, and estimates for various public works in Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, and the United States; amongst which were designs for a permanent exhibition building at Brussels,-though this was never carried out, owing to the disturbed state of political affairs on the Continent, for a direct railway between Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and for an underground railway in Paris.

In every country he visited he quickly acquired a good knowledge of the language, which greatly facilitated his work, enabling him to come into close contact with the people. The series of wars that devastated Europe during that time, making employment for civil engineers scarce, induced him to seek a new sphere in China, whither he went in 1869, without meeting with success. Consequently he left Shanghai, and visiting Japan, continued his voyage to San Francisco, where for a few months he was employed under the city and county enginecr on plans and projects for the improvement and extension of the city.

Having returned to England he, in October 1873, left for the Cape, where for six years he was Chief Resident Engineer of the East London and Queenstown railway, in British Kaffraria. In the summer of 1879 failing health compelled him to resign this post, which he did with much reluctance, being thus debarred the pleasure of finishing a work then near completion, and to which he was devoted heart and soul. How highly he was appreciated for his energetic usefulness may be gathered from a notice which appeared in the ‘East London Dispatch,’ of the 20th of August, 1879, which says :- "We cannot allow one of the oldest inhabitants and greatest benefactors of East London to leave us without a few valedictory words. Mr. A. E. Schmid has been identified with the growth of the town, on the East Bank, from its very infancy; and there is a sense in which the town, as it now exists, is his creation.”

On reaching England, he went to Brighton, hoping that its pure air would restore him to health ; but his malady steadily increased, and he expired on the 23rd of March, 1880.

Familiar with the minutest details of the profession, Mr. Schmid was conscientious and upright in all his dealings. His amiable temper, geniality and refinement, secured him numerous friends in all parts of the globe, who mourn his early death. How greatly he was esteemed by those who came professionally in contact with him was significantly shown by the handsome sum subscribed by the various employ& of the East London and Queenstown railway, in order to present him with a testimonial, on the occasion of his leaving Kaffraria.

Mr. Schmid was elected an Associate of the Institution in 1873, and he was transferred to the class of Alember on the 7th of December, 1875.

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