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Henry Fowler (1821-1854)

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Henry Fowler (1821-1854)

1821 Born in Wadsley, South Yorkshire, the son of John Fowler, a Land Agent, and his wife Elizabeth Swann. Brother of William Fowler, John Fowler, Charles Fowler and Frederick Fowler


1855 Obituary [1]

MR. HENRY FOWLER was born at Wadsley Hall, near Sheffield, in the West Riding of the County of York, on the 3rd of October, 1821.

His professional career commenced at the age of sixteen, as pupil to Mr. John Towlerton Leather (Assoc. Inst. C.E.), of Leventhope, near Leeds, at that time Engineer to the Sheffield Waterworks Company, and to other important public works; and,after the expiration of his term of pupilage, he continued, for about two years, to assist that gentleman in the execution of the various extensive works in which he was engaged.

Among the undertakings from which his experience was obtained, may be mentioned, - the construction of a portion of the North-Midland Railway, in the vicinity of Chesterfield, - the Everton Land Drainage, in Nottinghamshire, - part of the Manchester and Birmingham Railway, near to Crewe and Sandbach, - extensive improvements in the water-supply for the town of Sheffield, and other places, and the superintendence and management of a large colliery and iron-work in the vicinity of Leeds. These, and other engineering undertakings of a more general character, enabled him to acquire a knowledge of the details and of the operative portion of the science, rarely to be met with in so young a man, and which, combined, as it was in his case, with a clear and powerful mental capacity, fitted him,for the most important positions in the profession.

During the latter part of Mr. Fowler’s noviciate, Mr. Leather directed his attention to the more lucrative business of a Contractor for public works, in which the pupil proved a very valuable coadjutor, and there is little doubt that this induced the desire, which was subsequently realized, of also undertaking the construction of works.

In the year 1844, Mr. H. Fowler transferred his services to his Brother, Mr. John Fowler (M. Inst. C.E., Member of Council), at that time the Engineer of an extensive system of Railways from the Manchester and Sheffield Railway, eastward through Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Leicestershire, and also of the East Lincolnshire Railway, southward from Grimsby to Boston.

He was immediately placed as Resident Engineer on the East Lincolnshire Railway, and in that capacity he superintended the execution of the works to their completion, in a manner which secured a well-merited respect for his talents, and esteem for his character, from all the persons with whom he was brought into contact.

An offer was then made to him by the Great Northern Railway Company, who had previously become possessed, as lessees, of the East Lincolnshire Railway, to accept the position of permanent Resident Engineer of the line he had so successfully constructed, and of the loop line of the Great Northern Railway, from Peterborough to Gainsborough. This offer was warmly approved by the chief Engineers of the Company, Sir William Cubitt, V.P., and Mr. Joseph Cubitt, indications of his rapidly growing intellectual power, and engineering skill. It was therefore with the unanimous regret of the Directors and officials of every grade, that in the latter part of the year 1850, he resigned the appointment, and obtained, in conjunction with Mr. W. F. Faviel, the first contract for the formation of a length of twenty-two miles, from Bombay to Tannah, on the Great Indian Peninsular Railway.

On the 19th of December, 1850, he sailed for India, with hopes and prospects as bright and encouraging as any man could desire, but the fatal influences of the climate, aggravated probably by an energy which could not brook precautions, or delay, proved too much for his hitherto hardy frame, and in little more than twelve months from the time of his arrival in India, he was compelled to return to his native land, with an emaciated frame, and a deeply-seated disease, from which he never recovered.

For some time after his return he partially rallied, and his friends indulged in the fallacious hope of his eventual recovery ; indeed so much did his general health ameliorate, that he entered into a contract with the Netherlands Enclosure Company, to complete some large works, in Holland, for reclaiming an extensive tract of land from the River Scheldt.

Almost immediately, however, after this arrangement was made, his Indian complaint returned, in an aggravated form, and in spite of the efforts of medical skill, and the untiring and affectionate attentions of his family, during a long and most painful illness, he died at Wadsley Hall, the residence of his Father, on the 26th of January, 1854, in the thirty-second year of his age.

He had however the satisfaction, before his death, of knowing that his partner, Mr. Faviel, had completed their contract in India, and settled all accounts with the Company, in a manner which obtained the respect of all with whom they were connected.

The subject of this sketch was removed from among us, just as his career of usefulness appeared to be commencing, on a scale which must have led to great results ; his early practical education gave him confidence in his own powers, which were of the highest order,-his whole conduct was characterised by sound discrimination, and a strong sense of honest integrity, combined with gentleness and kindly feeling ; but the quality which most endeared him to all who enjoyed his intimacy, was a truthfulness and unbending integrity which knew no compromise, and which won the confidence and commanded the respect of all with whom he was associated.

He joined this Institution, as a Member, in the year 1848, and though he was rarely able to attend the meeting, in consequence of his provincial occupations, he was always anxious for and ready to contribute to its interests, and if he had been spared, would have become one of its brightest ornaments.


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