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Henry Arthur Hunt

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Sir Henry Arthur Hunt (1810-1889)


1890 Obituary [1]

SIR HENRY ARTHUR HUNT, C.B., was born at Westminster, in September 1810.

He was educated for a surveyor, serving his articles with Thurston and Sons, a firm of some note.

He subsequently entered the office of Mr. Wallen, who took him into partnership when under eighteen years of age. This partnership lasted only a few months.

In 1828, Mr. Hunt commenced business on his own account, taking the late Charles Stephenson into partnership in 1844, and the late Harry Jones sone twenty years later.

Mr. Hunt in his early life made, single-handed, for Sir Charles Barry, the detailed estimate for the Houses of Parliament. When the great railway companies were constructing their lines, he was largely employed by the North Staffordshire, the London, Brighton and South Coast, the Eastern Counties (now Great Eastern), the District, and the Metropolitan Railways. Most of the railway shops at Stratford were built under his supervision. He also constructed the gigantic brewery of Messrs. Allsopp at Burton-on-Trent.

Among the many building estates which he managed may be mentioned those of the Commissioners of the Exhibition of 1851, at South Kensington; those of the Corporation of the Sons of the Clergy; and the London property belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul’s, the Dean and Chapter of Canterbury, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, till transferred to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

He also held the important post of consulting surveyor to Her Majesty’s Office of Works from 1856 to 1886, and in this capacity was largely concerned in the selection of a site for, and the erection of, the Royal Courts of Justice.

In 1871, he was made a C.B. under Mr. Gladstone’s administration, and was knighted in 1876 by the Conservative Government then in office.

Throughout the country he was constantly employed as an arbitrator in connection with compensation claims, and, during the latter years of his life, in adjudicating on claims under the special provisions of the Artizans’ and Labourers’ Dwellings Acts. Sir Henry was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 4th of March, 1851. He was also a Fellow and a Founder Member of the Surveyors’ Institution, and was one of its Vice Presidents for the two years 1868-70.

The last arbitration case in which he was engaged was in connection with the celebrated Thirlmere scheme.

Few men owe their success in life less to chance than did the subject of this memoir. He was naturally gifted with a capacity for hard work, and was indefatigable in the pursuit of any object upon which he had set his mind. He was an early riser throughout his life, being seldom in bed after six o’clock in the morning. Most of his personal characteristics will be fresh in the memory of all. Perhaps the most noticeable of these was the extreme brevity and dryness of speech in connection with matters of business, though it is said he was an excellent and entertaining talker in private and in congenial company.

He was particularly exact in all that he did, bestowing upon it a continuous and concentrated attention of which few men are capable. It was this quality, joined with a wide range of practical knowledge, which made him so acceptable as an arbitrator. He would listen with admirable gravity and patience to the most illogical arguments and the most contradictory statements, without betraying his opinion of them either by look or gesture. Never was manner more inscrutable. He took very brief notes, being gifted with a most retentive memory, and almost invariably making his awards while the matter and evidence were fresh in his mind.

During the last three or four years of his life, his health, which had previously been uniformly good, became visibly impaired, though he remained in perfect possession of his faculties to the end.

His death took place at Folkestone, on the 13th of January, 1889, in the seventy-eighth year of his age.



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