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Henry Blackburne Parry

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Henry Blackburne Parry (1848-1883)

1884 Obituary [1]

HENRY BLACKBURNE PARRY was born in India on the 17th of October, 1848, and was educated at Thorn Park School, Teignmouth, Devonshire, and subsequently at King’s College, London.

After an apprenticeship of three years in the office of Messrs. Jenkin and Trathan, Liskeard, Cornwall, Mr. Parry, in 1867, obtained an appointment as Assistant-Engineer in the Public Works Department, India, and was attached to the Bombay Presidency.

After a short delay he was posted to the Irrigation Department at Sholapur. Here he remained till 1872 engaged in the construction of canals for irrigating purposes, and tanks and works for the water-supply of the town of Sholapur.

In 1872 Mr. Parry visited England to recruit his health, but on his return to Bombay he found that, during his absence, his name had been removed to the Bengal list, the effect of which was, that from being first for promotion to an Executive Engineership, he did not reach that position for eight years.

Mr. Parry was now employed on the construction of the Indus Valley State Railway at Sukkur. Here extensive bridge-works were in progress, the erection of station-buildings, and the raising of an embanked way. The line extends from Karachi to Multan, and passes through a most arid, inhospitable country with a deadly climate. The personal inconveniences and the deprivation of the essentials of life and home comforts, of having to “rough it” in mud-wall and thatch-grass huts, or in canvas tents, have been the experiences of some civil engineers; but when to these is added residence in an enervating climate, the physical energies naturally fail, and the life of many a valuable civil engineer is brought to an untimely end either suddenly or by disease.

Mr. Parry was after a while transferred to the Scindia State Railway, and was engaged on the construction of the bridge over the Chumbul river, and then to provincial works in the North-West Provinces. Through his energy and ability great reforms wele carried out in those districts.

In 1870-80, when hostilities broke out in Afghanistan and Kandahar, Mr. Parry was deputed, with other civil engineers, to construct a branch railway from the Indus Valley line to the Bolan Pass, for the forwarding of troops and commissariat supplies to Kandahar. It is a matter of engineering history how quickly and expeditiously this line was made.

At the close of the war this line was abandoned and the engineering staff broken np and dispersed ; the subject of this memoir was next in charge of a party to survey for a line of State Railway in the Transgogra districts below the Nepal terai or low lands, for the opening out of traffic and conveying the same to a point on the East Indian Railway near Patna. The line is now being constructed as a feeder railway by private enterprise, and is styled the North-West and Bengal Railway.

On completion of the survey and preparation of plans, Mr. Parry again visited England in 1882 on three months’ “privileged leave,” and returned in December in robust health, to find himself removed to the Madras Presidency, where he was appointed to the executive charge of a survey of a new State line of railway in the Vizagapataru district. It was in the execution of this work that he, in common with every individual in his camp, European and native alike, was smiten down with malarial fever, of which, after a few days’ illness, he died on the 2nd of May, 1883.

The Madras Government passed the following order: "The Government deeply regret to hear of the death of Mr. H. B. Parry, Executive Engineer, from illness directly traceable to exposure undergone in the performance of his duties on the survey of the Vizagapatam-Raipur State Railway. The loss which the survey party has sustained by the death of an officer so earnest and so devoted to his work as was Mr. Parry is much to be deplored.”

Mr. Parry was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of February, 1872, and was subsequently transferred to the Associate Member class.

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