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Edward Gray Strong

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Edward Gray Strong (1826-1903)

1903 Obituary [1]

EDWARD GRAY STRONG, born in Bruges on the 19th June, 1826, received his engineering training in the works of Napier at Lambeth. He was subsequently employed on the South Eastern Railway at New Cross, and in the drawing office and works of the London and North Western Railway at Crewe, and from 1853 to 1865 he was in the service of the Caledonian Railway Company, at first as an Assistant Engineer and subsequently as District Locomotive Superintendent. In February, 1865, he was appointed Locomotive Engineer of the Ceylon Government Railway, from which post he retired in January, 1885.

At the time of Mr. Strong’s arrival in Ceylon the railway between Colombo and Handy was still under construction, and the whole line was not completed and opened until August, 1867. Mr. Strong in the meantime was engaged in the supervision and erection of workshop machinery, locomotive, carriage and wagon rolling-stock, and other details necessary in connection with the opening of a new line of railway, the materials for which were imported from England in sailing ships, the Suez Canal not then being opened. The heavy machinery and packages had to be unloaded in an open roadstead and landed and removed without the aid of the appliances now available, a work which entailed no small amount of responsibility and skill.

On the opening of the line to Kandy, Mr. Strong was appointed Resident Engineer, in which capacity he had charge of the engineering as well as the locomotive, carriage and wagon departments. The permanent way and works were maintained under contract for a stipulated period, on the termination of which the line was maintained departmentally. As Resident Engineer, Mr. Strong carried out several important works besides his duties on the line, viz., the survey, with plans and estimates, for the extension of the line to Nawalapitiya, 17 miles in the hill country of Kandy. This branch was opened for traffic in December, 1874.

In 1875 an extension of the main line from Colombo southwards, following the sea coast, was projected. The preliminary work was undertaken departmentally, and plans and estimates were prepared for 26 miles to Kalutara South. This extension, which was completed and opened for traffic in September, 1879, brought railway construction in Ceylon to a standstill for some time, and was the last line carried out by Mr. Strong.

New bridges, for double lines of rails, were then constructed over the Kalutara Canal and the Kelaniya River, near Colombo. A number of main-line stations were also replaced by buildings giving more accommodation to meet the requirements of traffic. Many other improvements were carried out by Mr. Strong during his tenure of office, and by his retirement the Ceylon Government lost a most able, zealous and conscientious officer, who had ever their best interests and the welfare of the railway at heart. He was of a modest and retiring disposition, which prevented his abilities as an engineer from being more generally known, but his many good qualities endeared him to those who had the privilege of his friendship. He was kind and considerate to those who served under him, and he took a deep interest in the welfare of his native staff and dependents, who were much attached to him. He died at Tunbridge Wells on the 23rd April, 1903, in his 77th year.

Mr. Strong was elected a Member of the Institution on the 7th December, 1875.

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