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Francis Ernest Wentworth Sheilds

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Francis Ernest Wentworth Sheilds (1870-1959) of Southampton Docks

1870 Born in Greenwich, London, son of Francis Webb Wentworth-Sheilds and his wife Adelaide[1]

1891 Civil Engineer

1959 Died


1959 Obituary [2]

MR. FRANCIS ERNEST WENTWORTH-SHEILDS, whose death, we regret to report, occurred last Saturday, May 9, was closely associated with the development and operation of Southampton docks for over forty years. He was eighty-nine and, although he had been retired since 1936, from the position of docks engineer of the Southern Railway, he had continued to take an active interest in many matters concerned with civil engineering.

Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds was born in London and educated at St. Paul's School and at Owens College, Manchester. His first appointment, in 1888, was to the engineering staff of the Manchester Ship Canal, where he was engaged mainly on the construction of the Salford docks.

In 1892, he went to Southampton as an assistant engineer on the dock extensions which were being undertaken, a project which occupied the succeeding four years.

Thereafter, for a few years, Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds held other appointments, including those of resident engineer on the North Cornwall railway extension and resident engineer on the Bakerloo tube railway.

He returned to Southampton in 1901 as resident engineer during the construction of the Trafalgar graving dock and deep water quay and, apart from a short period as resident engineer on the Isna barrage project in Egypt, the remainder of his career was devoted to the port of Southampton.

Between 1907 and 1912 Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds was responsible, as chief engineer, for the design and construction of the White Star dock and the widening of the Trafalgar graving dock, combining with that task the duties of docks engineer to the London and South Eastern Railway, to which office he was appointed in 1909. He continued as docks engineer, Southern Railway, when the railway grouping was effected in 1921, retiring, as stated above, in 1936. During the latter years of his term as docks engineer, Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds had the responsibility of carrying out several important works at Southampton, among them being the construction of the new docks on the western shore and of the King George V graving dock. He was a member of the Southampton Harbour Board.

Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds became an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1895 and was transferred to full membership in 1905. He was awarded the George Stephenson go~d medal of the Institution in 1914, delivered the Vernon Harcourt lectures in 1921, and served the Institution a president during a particularly difficult year, 1944-45. His presidential address most appropriately dealt with the future of British ports. At the time, of course, the ports of this country were subjected to the severest stresses of the war years but future planning was, as Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds put it, "very much in the air". But, he also said, whether or not the ports were placed under the control of some central authority, it seemed right that schemes for their improvement should come from the local managements who understood the needs and the possibilities of their own ports. In the same address, Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds emphasised the importance of co-operation between engineers and all with whom they came into contact in the performance of their work. An engineer, he said, was required to conceive a structure which would fulfil a certa1n purpose and to get it built. In that task, he urged, it was essent1al to keep in mind those who would "benefit or suffer by its use."


1959 Obituary [3]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1891 census
  2. The Engineer 1959/05/15
  3. 1959 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries