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British Industrial History

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Clement Wilks

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Clement Wilks (1819-1871) of Browne and Wilks

1872 Obituary [1]

MR. CLEMENT WILKS was born at Peckham Rye, Surrey, on the 15th of February, 1819, and was the youngest son of the Rev. Mark Wilks, of Paris.

He passed most of his early years in France and Switzerland, and took his degree of Bachelor of Arts at the College de Paris in the year 1836.

After being engaged for a short time on the Paris and St. Germain railway, he came to England, and was articled to Sir Charles Fox, then of the London works, and Resident Engineer of the London and Birmingham railway.

His professional education was continued in connection with Messrs. Fox, Henderson and Co. till 1841 ; and in the following year he had the chief management of a French engineering establishment on the Garonne, where he remained for three or four years.

Returning to England, he entered into what proved but a short engagement with Mr. G. W. Buck, M. Inst. C.E., on the Ely and Huntingdon railway, then in course of construction.

On Mr. Buck’s decease he was associated with Mr. Hawkshaw in surveying for the Manchester and Southport line, and subsequently for the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway, in the neighbourhood of Heckmondwike.

In 1850 he was engaged in superintending the construction of various public buildings in London, under the direction of the Society for Improving the Dwellings of the Poor, a model of one of which was erected in connection with the first Exhibition of 1851.

In the following pear he left England for Australia, and immediately after arriving in Melbourne, was appointed Assistant Colonial Engineer, a post he occupied for several years, being chiefly engaged in the construction of roads and bridges in various localities in that colony.

In 1860 he visited the United States and Canada on private affairs ; and returning to Australia resumed his former duties. The Victorian Government having inaugurated a scheme for supplying water to the various mining districts, he was invited to accept the post of Resident Engineer to the Water Supply, the duties of which he continued to discharge until his death, on the 2nd of May, 1871.

His professional ability, integrity, and zeal in the performance of arduous duties, often under circumstances peculiarly harassing, as well as his uniform courtesy, secured for him at all times the esteem and confidence of his superiors, whilst the kind consideration shown invariably towards those whom he employed won their warm regard.

During the last twelve months of his life he was much enfeebled by a lingering malady, and was yet found daily at his post, for his active temperament would not suffer him to seek the rest which might hare prolonged his days.

Mr. Wilks was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of December, 1869.

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