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British Industrial History

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Edward Snowball

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Edward Snowball.

Edward Snowball (1830-1911), chief draughtsman at Neilson and Co and later at Neilson, Reid and Co

1911 Died


1911 Obituary [1]

IT is with great regret that we have to record the death of Mr. Edward Snowball, for many years chief draughtsman at Hyde Park Locomotive Works, Glasgow. To many engineers, acting and retired, the intimation of the death of Mr. Snowball will recall the long and useful career of one whose ability and sterling worth never failed to command attention and esteem.

Practically coincident in time and place with the birth of the modern locomotive, as exemplified in the "Rocket," Mr. Snowball was born on the 25th January, 1830, at White House, Capheaton, Northumberland.

His education was completed under Dr. Bruce, and his practical engineering training was also acquired in Newcastle, at the works of Robert Stephenson and Co.

When he entered the works of Messrs. Stephenson as a premium apprentice he was 16 years of age, and before completing his apprenticeship he made, as it now seems, the very notable achievement of becoming chief draughtsman to that firm.

From 1858 to 1863 he acted as locomotive superintendent of the then Scinde Railway in India.

Returning from the East in the latter year for a short holiday, demanded by considerations of health, he met Mr. James Reid, of the Hyde Park Locomotive Works Glasgow, who at once secured his services for his firm as chief draughtsman, a position which be held for a period of 38 years - from the beginning of 1864 to the end of 1901 - when he had to retire from active work on account mainly of failing sight.

In those early days, before standardisation of the locomotive was even thought of, Mr. Snowball was the adviser as to the best locomotive practice of the many important clients of the Hyde Park firm. Mr. Snowball's work may therefore be seen in every part of the world on locomotives and on machines for their production designed by Messrs. Neilson and Co., and afterwards Messrs. Neilson, Reid and Co. While he was methodical and exacting to a degree in his care that every detail should be properly and fully proportioned for the work it had to do, he was even more particular that the beauty of the part and of the outline of the locomotive itself should always be maintained or improved. He also insisted that every drawing issued to the workshops should be a clear and finished production.

Mr. Snowball was a member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland for 41 years, and, while of a rather retiring and unassuming disposition, was always deeply interested in the proceedings of that body.


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