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Edward Waller Stoney

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Edward Waller Stoney (1844-1931)

1844 Born the son of T. G. Stoney of Kyle Park and Arranhill. County Tipperary, Ireland

Scholar, Gold medallist, and M. E. Queen’s University, Ireland; Fellow, Madras University.

1878 Married Sarah, daughter of John Crawford of Carton Abbey

Chief engineer of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway

Responsible for the construction of the Tangabudra Bridge

Invented Stoney's Patent Punkah Wheel

His daughter Ethel Sara Stoney was the mother of Alan Turing

1915 Indian Biographical Dictionary

Stoney, Edward Waller, M.E., M.I.C.E., M.Inst.C.E., C.I.E. (1904), Chief Engineer. Madras Railway, (retired) 4th s. of late T. G. Stoney of Kyle Park and Arranhill. County Tipperary, Ireland; Scholar, Gold medallist, and M.E. Queen’s University, Ireland; Fellow, Madras University. m. Sarrah, d. of John Crawford of Carton Abbey, 1878. Publications: various Engineering papers. Recreations: Travelling, Photography, Tennis, and Shooting. Address: c/o H. S. King & Co., 65, Cornhill, E.C; The Gables, Coonoor, Madras Presidency. Clubs: Madras and Coonoor.

1931 Obituary[1]


The death, after a short illness, of Mr. Edward Waller Stoney, at his residence, Summerset, Branksome Park, Bournemouth, on October 4, removes from our midst a civil engineer who spent practically the whole of his life in India and was for some time prior to his retirement in 1904 Chief Engineer of the Madras Railway. The fourth and youngest son of the late Mr. T. G. Stoney, J.P., of Kyle Park and Arran Hill, County Tipperary, Ireland, Edward Stoney was born on February 10, 1844. He received his general education at home and entered Queen’s College, Galway, in October, 1860, for the purpose of studying engineering. He remained there for three years, gaining the engineering scholarship in each year. He also won the first Peel Exhibition in competition with the students of the Queen’s Colleges at Belfast and Cork, as well as with those of his own college at Galway. In his final examination in engineering he had again to compete with the students from all three colleges; nevertheless, he came out first on the list, receiving the gold medal and subsequently the degree of Master of Engineering. Upon leaving college, he became the pupil of the late Mr. S. A. Roberts, remaining with him for about two years.

Mr. Stoney proceeded to India, a country in which he was destined to live almost continuously tor a period of upwards of sixty years, in July, 1866, to take up the appointment of fourth-class engineer on the Madras Railway. He soon distinguished himself as a bridge engineer and, within five years of his arrival, he had successfully completed the erection of the Tungabadra Bridge, an important structure comprising 58 spans of 70-ft. girders. Subsequently he carried through the building of the Pennair Bridge, which consisted of seventeen 140-ft. spans. A description of this work formed the subject of his first contribution to the Proceedings of The Institution of Civil Engineers, in 1875. Mr. Stoney was responsible for a number of other large bridges, the most important of which was the New Chittravati Bridge. This structure comprised nineteen 140-ft. spans, resting on 12-ft. diameter cylindrical iron piers which were founded on rock at a maximum depth of 80 ft. below the bed of the river. This bridge was opened to traffic in March, 1890, having been completed in the short time of 22 months. Not only did he receive the thanks of the Government of India for this achievement, but his paper on “ The New Chittravati Bridge, Madras Railway,” presented in 1891 to the Institution of Civil Engineers, secured for him a Telford Premium. Three years previously, in March, 1888, he had made another contribution to the Proceedings of the Institution. This paper was entitled, “ Extraordinary Floods in Southern India; Their Causes and Destructive Effects on Railway Works.”

Promotion had come rapidly; after only four years’ service, and when but 26 years of age, he was made first-class engineer in 1870. On several occasions after this he was called upon to act as deputy or as chief engineer, and was promoted to the rank of substantive chief engineer in October, 1898. Four years later he became Agent and Manager of the Railway and finally retired on March 5, 1904, when 60 years of age, and after thirty-eight years’ service. He received the Companionship of the Order of the Indian Empire at the hands of His Majesty King Edward VII at Buckingham Palace, on July 5, 1904.

Mr. Stoney was a man of many activities; he became a fellow of Madras University in 1891, and was for a long period one of the examiners for the degree of Bachelor of Civil Engineering of that University. He was also often called upon to act as examiner in other technical subjects, both at Madras University and at the College of Engineering, Madras. He became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland as long ago as 1868, and was awarded the Mullins’ Medal of that Institution. He was elected to full membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers on May 4, 1875, and his last paper to this Institution was presented in 1917; it bore the title “ Description of an Extraordinary Flood which occurred on November 11,1903 in the Palar River; its Cause and Destructive Effects.” Mr. Stoney was the inventor of several devices which are still widely used in India. Foremost among these are his silent punkah wheels, surkhi screens, switch levers, locking gears, and point indicators. For many years, and indeed until quite recently, he lived at The Gables, Coonoor, Madras Presidency, and was, for a long period, a regular contributor to our contemporary Indian Engineering and to other technical journals. He will long be remembered by all those who knew him as an engineer of undoubted ability and of great energy."

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Published 2014 ISBN: 46810975