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Francis Charlton

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Francis Charlton (1816-1881)


1881 Obituary [1]

MR. FRANCIS CHARLTON, the third son of William John Charlton, Esq., of Hesleyside, Northumberland, was born on the 27th of January 1816.

He was educated partly at Ushaw College, and subsequently at the Edinburgh University.

Having selected Civil Engineering as a profession, he was articled, in 1838, for four years, to T. E. Harrison, Past-President Inst. C.E., during the time when the South Shields railway was under construction. He was afterwards engaged as under:-from 1842-5, on the Newcastle and Darlington railway, as an Assistant Engineer ; from 1845-51, on the Newcastle and Berwick railway, as a Resident Engineer; from 1851-53, on the Alston branch of the Newcastle and Carlisle railway, as Engineer; and from 1853-56, on the Seaham and Sunderland railway, in the same position.

Subsequently he was, from 1856-63, Resident Engineer under J. F. Tone, M. Inst. C.E., on the Border Counties railway - which runs through his native village - from Hexham, on the Newcastle and Carlisle railway, to Riccarton, on the Border Union railway. Then, from 1863 to 1866, he had charge, as Resident Engineer of the construction of the Marron extension of the Whitehaven, Cleator, and Egremont railway; and in the year last named he was elected County Surveyor of Northumberland, and held that post until his death on the 9th of April 1881.

In this capacity he was both an Engineer and an Architect, and had charge of all the bridges and roads, together with all the buildings belonging to the county. The latter included the Morpeth gaol, until it was transferred to the Government, and the Lunatic Asylum at Morpeth. This office was more that of an Inspector of existing structures, the greater part of the work done under his superintendence being general repairs.

He widened and otherwise improved the following bridges:- Chatton bridge, across the river Till, in 1867 ; Burn Mill, across the Mill burn, in 1877; and Corbridge bridge, across the river Tyne, which was widened by projecting the parapet walls upon corbels, and which work was scarcely complete at the time of his death. He rebuilt Oakpool bridge, across the East Allen river, in 1866, as well as several smaller bridges, and he partly rebuilt the Eals bridge, across South Tyne, in 1870, and Hartford bridge, in 1876. He relaid new timber platforms, &C., on the Union Chain bridge, across the river Tweed near Berwick, in 1871, and on Warden Chain bridge, across the South Tyne near Hexham, in 1877.

Among the bridges built under his superintendence only, and afterwards adopted by the county, were the following:- Newton Barns, Hepple, Sharperton, Dileggies Burn, Haltwhistle, and some less important structures.

As County Architect he designed and carried out the works of several new buildings, of which the most important were various extensions, &C., at the Lunatic Asylum, and at the police-stations of Belford, Wooler, Blyth, and. North Sunderland, and entirely new ones at Wallsend and Scotswood. He was also Engineer for several bridges in Northumberland, which were not built as county bridges; the most important being the Duchess' bridge, across the river Aln near Alnmouth, and Wark bridge, across the North Tyne.

During the last severe winter, while superintending the widening of the bridge at Corbridge, it is believed that the long hours spent there in the trying weather accelerated the disease from which he died-affection of the heart.

He returned to his home at Tynemouth on the 8th of April, seemingly in his usual health, but was found dead in his bed on the following morning, having passed from sleep to death apparently without a struggle. Mr. Charlton was an extremely good-hearted, genial man, sprung from an old Roman Catholic family, and a liberal supporter of the charities of his Church. He abounded in anecdotes of border life, and whilst his recollections of places and of people were always racy and interesting, they were ever tempered by his own gentle spirit. Though perhaps never distinguished as an Engineer, he possessed the confidence and affection of all who knew him, for he had the brave heart and the tender charity of a true Christian gentleman.

Mr. Charlton was elected a Member of the Institution on the 7th of December 1869, and he was also connected with several other engineering societies.


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