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Frank Charles Black

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Frank Charles Black (1839-1889)

1889 Obituary [1]

FRANK CHARLES BLACK, the eldest son of the late Charles Christopher Black, M.A., Trinity College, Cambridge, was born in 1839, and educated at Bruce Castle School, Tottenham.

His earliest employment was under Messrs. Brassey in the construction of the Maremma Railway in Italy, on which line he had charge of the Pieve Vecchia Tunnel, and of 8 miles of railway, including four bridges.

In 1864 he proceeded to India and had charge for Messrs. Brassey, Wythes and Henfrey, of 20 miles of the Delhi Railway on which was the crossing over the Ganges Canal. He built this bridge, acting under J. C. Moulton.

In the following February he was engaged on the laying of the Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway in the service of the Company, and a few years afterwards he made the necessary survey for the projected branch, 35 miles in length, up to the well-known hill sanitarium of Nynee Tal ; but the scheme was subsequently abandoned on the score of expense.

He subsequently joined the Indian Public Works Department, in which he rendered continuous service until 1882. During this time he did particularly useful work as District Engineer, the roads and buildings in the Hannipur District being kept by him in such specially goodorder, as to call forth the warm written praise of the Judge, Magistrate, Superintending Engineer, Deputy Commissioner, and other officials. By constant efforts, spread over a period of six years, he was unusually successful in the planting of numerous avenues of trees throughout the district, and 13 miles of these were in flourishing condition in 1880.

In 1882, Mr. Black was transferred to the Archaeological Department, a branch of work for which he had special taste and fondness, and a limited grant was sanctioned to enable him to take steps for the conservation of the Vittala Swami Temple, at Bijanagur, and the Alaiva, or Shore Temple, at Mahavellipore, or the Seven Pagodas, on the Coromandel coast (described in Fergusson and Burges, Cave Temples of India). From the first named he cleared away an enormous mass of jungle at a cost of Rs. 4,000, and at the Alaiva Temple the work consisted mainly in the excavation of the ornamental walls which were buried in sand, leading to the discovery of some interesting inscriptions previously unknown.

His last archaeological work appears to have been in connection with the restoration of part of the Stupa of Amravati in 1884, after which the funds necessary for the conservation of the ancient monuments of Southern India, a matter strongly commended at various times to the notice of the Government by the highest authorities in England, were withdrawn. At the time of Mr. Black's sudden death on the 29th of May, 1889, he was occupying the post of Local Funds Engineer at Ellore.

His numerous written testimonials from officials of high grade speak of his professional knowledge as much above the average, while his activity as a rider and walker is often mentioned. He is also stated to have been very successful in gaining the respect and affection of his subordinates.

Mr. Black was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 2nd of February, 1875.

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