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Cornelius Willes Eborall

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Cornelius Willes Eborall (1820-1873)

1875 Obituary [1]

Cornelius Willes Eborall was born in Birmingham in the year 1820. He was the son of Lieutenant Eborall, R.N., well known as manager of the Birmingham District Fire Office, and, subsequently, for many years the Goods Manager of the Grand Junction Railway Company, which post he retained on the amalgamation of that company with the London and Birmingham, now the London and North-Western Railway Company.

Mr. Eborall received his early education in railway matters in his father's office.

About the year 1847 he was appointed Goods Manager to the Sheffield Company, and succeeded Mr. James Meadows as General Manager of that line in 1849.

In 1850 he became the General Manager of the East Lancashire Railway Company, the fortunes of which at that time were at a very low ebb. Under Mr. Eborall, however, the property materially improved, and in 1858 it was amalgamated with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company upon equal terms.

Mr. Eborall remained in that office until the year 1856, when he was appointed General Manager of the South-Eastern Company, under the Chairmanship of the Hon. James Byng, and subsequently of Sir Edward William Watkin, M.P., both of whom always entertained towards him the warmest feelings of personal friendship.

His career during the last twenty years of his life was one of uninterrupted success. Filling a position the qualifications for which combined as much diplomacy as technical knowledge, Mr. Eborall’s ability, special business aptitude, and conscientious zeal enabled him to overcome difficulties otherwise apparently insurmountable.

His amiability of manner, his kind consideration for the views and opinions of those who differed from him in the duties of official life, or who had to meet him as an antagonist, won for him, in railway circles, universal respect, and his appointment as arbitrator in the differences between the Caledonian and the North British Railways indicates the high estimation in which he was held by railway authorities outside the circle of his immediate business connections.

For a year before his death Mr. Eborall had been in failing health, and he had, in consequence, been absent from duty for some months. Towards the end of November 1873, he had, however, returned; but his strength was unequal to the demands upon it. On the 15th of December he was seized with an attack of apoplexy, and died on the following morning, at the offices of the Company, at the age of fifty-three years.

In Mr. Eborall, not only the South Eastern, but the entire railway world, sustained a great loss. Probably few men intrusted with the management of a great public undertaking succeeded more thoroughly than he did in enlisting the sympathies of the numerous body of officials and employed under his control, for the clue performance of whose duties he was directly responsible, and who at the same time so entirely commanded the confidence and respect, of the board, to whom the account of that responsibility had to be rendered.

An anxious, constant, and earnest watchfulness over the matters in his charge marked his whole career, and the evidence which all his acts furnished of this thorough devotedness to duty not only stimulated those around him to a strict performance of their respective duties, but naturally created through the entire staff a feeling of common and deep interest in the general welfare and success of the undertaking.

His manner was invariably pleasant and courteous; nor did he hesitate in all matters of importance to ascertain personally the views, and seek the assistance and co-operation, of the officers of the company, listening with attention and respect to whatever counsel might be offered, and evincing a consideration and deference for the frank opinions of those who tendered their suggestions or advice.

Although not perhaps a man of great originality of thought or idea, Mr. Eborall nevertheless displayed a quick apprehension of the leading features of a case, and an unusual clearness of perception in seizing on any point of value, or in the discovery of a weak part in a subject submitted to him. His perseverance and tact were remarkable in tracing out the facts and bearings, and in thoroughly mastering all the difficulties, of a complicated business, weighing the various opposing arguments with a diligence and acuteness which necessarily tended to render his decision just and conclusive beyond dispute.

In the selection of servants Mr. Eborall possessed a peculiar power of discernment, as regards the capabilities of men, and their fitness for particular positions. In the exercise of his authority, although disposed to leniency, he was a strict disciplinarian, and required from; all an exact performance of the task assigned to them. He never overlooked any instance of neglect, or other fault, which may have endangered the safety of passengers.

In the earlier days of his appointment to the South-Eastern Company, Mr. Eborall devoted himself with great energy and success to the abolition of the active and mischievous competition which had prevailed for years between his own and neighbouring companies; and, as regards the then growing railway communication with the Continent, he applied himself to the introduction of useful measures and improvements, both as to the passenger and merchandise traffic, and succeeded in removing many serious inconveniences and hindrances in the service, thus tending materially to the benefit of the companies, as well as to the comfort and advantage of the travelling public.

A conviction of the necessity for a West End communication with the existing system of the South-Eastern Railway Company urged him to take a prominent part in the promotion and furtherance of the Charing Cross and Cannon Street extension lines, and the success which attended his untiring efforts to insure the safe and regular working of the difficult service on these lines, when opened for traffic, bears high testimony to Mr. Eborall’s practical abilities as a railway manager.

Mr. Eborall was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 5th of December, 1865, and frequently joined in the discussion on Papers connected with the working of railways.

He was also a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Engineer and Railway Volunteer Staff Corps, and took an active part in solving the problems submitted to that body by the War Office.

1873 Obituary [2]

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