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Edward Burstal

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Edward Burstal (1818-1886)

Royal Naval Engineer, son of Richard Burstal.

1818 Born.

1833 Joined Navy.

Laid Telegraph Cable from Orfordness to the Hague, and by careful navigation, only 119 miles of cable were used to cover 114 miles of actual distance. [1]

Captain Burstal was a member of several Royal Commissions, notably, the Thames Embankment inquiry.[2]

1886 Died. He was apparently in excellent health some three weeks since, and died on July 13th 1886, in the arms of his only brother, whose life be had, when twelve years of age, saved from drowning. [3]


1886 Obituary[4]

"CAPTAIN E. BURST AL, R.N.

Captain Edward Burstal, R.N., the secretary of the Thames Conservancy, who died at Ramsgate on the 13th instant, was born at Stoke, near Devonport, in 1818 ; he was the son of Richard Burstal, who had sailing command of H.M.S. Dreadnought at Trafalgar.

He entered the Navy in September, 1833, and was at once employed on surveying service on the Thames and Medway, under the late Captain Bullock. In 1838 he received the thanks of the Royal Humane Society for saving three lives. In 1840, as midshipman on board H.M.S. Cambridge, he was engaged in the operations on the Syrian coast and blockade of Alexandria; for his services on this occasion he received English and Turkish medals. In 1846 he was engaged in surveying in the North Sea on board the Fearless, and later, he became lieutenant in command during the famine relief on the Irish coast.

After this he was engaged in surveying the southeast coast of England and west coast of Scotland.

In 1852, he rendered active service in laying the first submarine telegraph cable, i.e., that from Dover to Calais ; for this special service he received a handsome present of plate. He subsequently was engaged in laying the telegraph cable from Orfordness to the u Hague,” and in this latter case, by careful navigation, only 119 miles of cable was used to cover 114 miles of actual distance.

In 1854, Lieutenant Burstal was engaged in the war operations in the Baltic, and in the taking of Bomar-sund. On this occasion his surveying experience led to his being specially recommended in despatches for valuable services in taking up combined English and French fleets, when the lights and buoys had been removed and misplaced by the Russians; for this service he was promoted to the rank of commander.

At the close of the Russian war he renewed his work of surveying on the Scotch and English coasts. In the year 1857 the Thames Conservancy was established by Act of Parliament, and Captain Burs tai was appointed, on the recommendation of the Admiralty, secretary to that body. This appointment he held until the day of his death.

Captain Burstal took a great interest in the proven* tion of the pollution of the River Thames by the Metropolitan Board of Works. Although the Conser* vancy have hitherto been less successful in bringing home to that body the enormity of this offence than in dealing with the riparian towns above Moulsey, it is to be hoped that the evidence given before Parliamentary Committees on the subject, will some day bear fruit, and that the metropolis will not be allowed much longer to pollute the tidal waters of the Thames. At present a large portion of the income of the Thames Conservancy has to be expended in dredging up the materials abundantly furnished by the metropolitan outfalls. Captain Burstal was a member of several Royal Commissions, notably the Thames Embankment inquiry, which resulted in the plan of the Commissioners being adopted, and the present embankments constructed.

His opinion was often in request in connection with marine engineering questions, especially with reference to harbours, docks, bridge foundations, and sea defences. Captain Burstal was apparently in excellent health some three weeks since, and died on July 13 (after a very short illness) in the arms of his only brother, whose life he had, when twelve years of age, saved from drowning. He leaves one son only (the engineer to the Corporation of Oxford) to mourn his loss, but all to whom he was known will feel that one of those fine upright and genial natures which are all too rare in public life, has gone from their midst.

On Friday, the 16th, his remains were followed to their resting-place in Norwood Cemetery by the leading members of the Thames Conservancy and a large number of sorrowing friends.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1886/07/23
  2. The Engineer 1886/07/23
  3. The Engineer 1886/07/23
  4. Engineering 1886/07/23