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Harry Chubb

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Harry Chubb (1816-1887)

1869 of 33 Bedford Row, John St, London W, became an Associate of the Inst of Civil Engineers; Charles John Chubb of the same address became an Associate in 1875[1]


1888 Obituary [2]

HARRY CHUBB was born at Bridgwater, Somersetshire, on the 2nd of October, 1816. His father was the late Mr. Morley Chubb of that town, and his mother a daughter of the Rev. Thomas Alford, rector of Chard and Ashill.

Coming to London when still a young man he entered the service of the East and West India Dock Co, and whilst engaged in the Secretary’s Department of that Company he showed himself to be possessed of those qualities of intelligent activity which so strongly marked his after life, and he received on one occasion the thanks of his Directors for special services rendered outside the strict sphere of his official duties.

About the year 1846 the scheme of the North London Railway was proposed with the view chiefly of connecting the docks with the London and North Western Railway system, and Mr. Chubb at once threw all his energies into the work, mastering every detail connected with the application for the Act and the construction of the line. As its Secretary and Manager he may be said to have perfected the system of working frequent trains over a considerable length of railway, for though the Greenwich and Blackwall Railway|Blackwall Railways preceded the North London, they were far shorter and had complete control over their own systems.

Assured, however, within a few years that the plan first adopted of running its passenger trains into the city over the Blackwall Railway was cumbrous and insufficient for the growing traffic, Mr. Chubb formed the bold idea of bringing the North London Railway into Broad Street, and was instrumental in securing to the Railway the satisfactory and profitable position which it has ever since held. The extension of the system to Kew was also carried out under his superintendence.

His success in these undertakings and the tact which he showed in connection with the various applications to Parliament arising out of them brought him into prominence, and on the retirement, in the year 1862, of the Secretary of the Imperial Gas Light Co, at a time when that Company was seeking powers for the enlargement of its works, Mr. Chubb was asked to take this position. This request he somewhat reluctantly acceded to.

The North London Railway immediately invited him to join the board of the Company, and he continued to be a Director of it until his death. It was about this period that he took part in the negotiations for the guarantee of the North and South Western Junction Railway by two of the large northern railways, and became the Chairman of the guaranteed company.

His fondness for mechanical science in every branch led him quickly to master the details of gas manufacture and distribution, and very considerable enlargements of the works were carried out; but his peculiar powers of negotiation were again occupied, first in the arrangements with the Government resulting in the present Act affecting gas companies, and secondly in carrying out the amalgamations which went to form the present vast undertaking of the Gas Light and Coke Co, of which, when the Imperial Company ceased to exist, he became a Director.

The comparative leisure which followed his severance from the active management of the Gas Company, allowed him to widen his interests in those fields with which he was so familiar, and enabled him to accept a seat on the Board of the Brentford Gas Company, and to act as an Auditor of the Grand Trunk and Great Eastern Railways, besides fulfilling the duties of Auditor to the Railway Clearing House. The only other interest with which he was directly connected apart from that of railways and gas, was life insurance, in which he took an active part. For some years he had held a seat on the Board of the National Life Assurance Society.

The peculiar characteristics which Mr. Chubb manifested in his active career, were a calm, self-reliant and courteous bearing, which rendered intercourse with others easy; a conspicuous simplicity and honesty of purpose, which begot and secured confidence, and a great mastery of details. He was eminently a man to whom difficult and delicate negotiations were confidently entrusted. Mr. Chubb was not an engineer, but, having a strong natural inclination in this direction, his scientific knowledge was considerable, and within the limits available to an unprofessional man, he assisted largely in the application of mechanism to the working of railways and the manufacture of gas.

The qualities which led to a uniform success in the chief works of his life were at the disposal of all those, whether individuals or societies, who had any claim upon him. His even and restful temperament, whilst it kept him free from all hurry and excitement, seemed to allow him time for every thing, and his sympathies were wide. Thus the calls which clergymen made upon him for advice and aid in the management of benevolent funds as well as the affairs of such societies as the Railway Benevolent Society, in which he took a great interest, met with a willing and hearty response, and it is not too much to say that he was regarded with a sincere affection by those with whom he was associated, and not least by the large number of working men who from time to time came under his influence.

Mr. Chubb died at his residence in Brighton on the 25th of October, 1887, and was buried at Kensal Green. He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 2nd of March, 1869.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Civil Engineer Lists
  2. 1888 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries