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British Industrial History

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Charles Blackwell

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Charles Blackwell (1843-1906)

son of Thomas Evans Blackwell

1907 Obituary [1]

CHARLES BLACKWELL, born at Foxhangers, near Devizes, Wiltshire, on the 4th February, 1843, was the eldest son of the late Mr. Thomas Evans Blackwell, who went to Canada in 1857 and subsequently became first Vice-President and General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway. The subject of this notice studied at the High School and at McGill College, Montreal, and obtained his practical experience in the service of the Grand Trunk Railway.

From 1869 to 1876 he was engaged upon the location and construction of the Intercolonial Railway, and during part of this period he supervised the equipment and erection of the machinery in the principal repair shops at Moncton, New Brunswick.

During 1876 and 1877 he was Resident Engineer in charge of the completion of 45 miles of the Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa, and Occidental Railway, and in the two following years he acted in the same capacity on the construction of the Quebec Central Railway.

In 1879 he was appointed Mechanical Engineer to the Dominion Department of Railways and Canals, and was responsible for the design and construction of all rolling stock required for the Canadian Pacific Railway, as well as for the water service.

On the completion of the line in 1881 and its transfer to the Canadian Pacific Railway Company, Mr. Blackwell went to Roanoke, Virginia, as Superintendent of Motive Power of the Norfolk and Western and the Shenandoah Valley Railroads. The workshops at Roanoke were built and equipped in accordance with the plans and specifications prepared by him.

In 1885 he left Roanoke and took service for 3 years with the Union Pacific Railroad, acting for a time as Manager of the Montana Division.

Subsequently he became Engineer of the machinery department to the Central of Georgia Railway and remained with that company at Savannah, Georgia, for 2 years, when the state of his health obliged him to return to the north.

Between 1891 and 1897 he was engaged as Engineer to the Schoenberger Steel Company, with headquarters at Pittsburg, but in the latter year, he returned to the railroad service on receiving the appointment of Engineer to the receivers of the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad. He remained with the company after its reconstruction until 1903, when he was offered the position of special assistant to the Chief Engineer of the Wabash Railroad.

During this period he investigated and reported on several railroad properties in the United States. Accurate, methodical and resourceful, his extensive and varied experience eminently fitted him to fill the responsible and confidential positions which he occupied during the latter part of his career; whilst in private life, his sterling personal qualities endeared him to many friends.

He died at Cincinnati on the 29th December, 1906, in his sixty-fourth year. Mr. Blackwell married, in 1878, Emily, only daughter of Mr. Edward B. Chandler, Barrister-at-law, of Moncton, New Brunswick, and grand-daughter of the Hon. Edward Barron Chandler, Commissioner of Railways and Governor of the Province of New Brunswick. Mr. Blackwell was a Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers and of the Master Car-Builders’ Association.

He was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 14th April, 1874, and was subsequently placed in the class of Associate Members.

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