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Henry Percy Maybury

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Sir Henry Percy Maybury (1864-1943), Director-General of the Roads Department in the Ministry of Transport


1943 Obituary [1]

ROAD engineers throughout the country will learn with deep regret of the death, following a short illness, of Brigadier-General Sir Henry Maybury, which occurred at his home, "Four Winds," Mousecroft Lane, Shrewsbury, on Thursday last, January 7th.

Sir Henry took a leading part in the conversion and remodelling of British roads to meet the increasing demands of motor traffic, and in the last European War he served in both France and Flanders in connection with the roads required by the Army. He was a member of important transport committees and a consulting engineer on road problems of ripe experience, and his death will be mourned by many friends.

Henry Percy Maybury was born in Shrewsbury in 1864, and on completing his education passed from school to the office of Mr. R. E. Johnston, who was at that time the chief engineer of the London and North-Western Railway Company. After serving five years, he entered municipal service in 1892, becoming the engineer and surveyor to the town of Festiniog; two years later he took up a similar position at Malvern.

In 1903 he was appointed engineer and surveyor to the County of Kent, where he began his work on motor roads. In that year the legal speed of motor-cars was raised to 20 m.p.h.! He initiated important road experiments at Sidcup, with the object of increasing the durability of road surfaces, and minimising as far as possible the effects of dust at the increased speeds then used. His work was appreciated, and he was invited to become a member of the Advisory Engineering Committee of the Road Board, which had then been newly formed.

About 1913 the Board decided to appoint a full-time Chief Engineering Officer, and Henry Maybury was selected to fill the post. In tackling the problem presented to him, Maybury divided the roads of Britain into three classes, the first two of which were selected to receive substantial grants towards their upkeep. Such a plan involved the appointment of a large staff of civil engineers, but the work had made satisfactory progress when the war broke out in 1914. The staff was scattered by the war ; some went overseas, while others were employed in the construction of roads and other civil engineering work connected with British military camps.

About the middle of 1916 Henry Maybury went to France to confer with the Engineer-in-Chief of the Allied Armies on road matters, especially the provision of Army roads. He was given the task of organising an engineering road service in France, and when at a later date that organisation was merged with the transport services of the British Armies in France under Sir Eric Geddes, who was appointed Director-General of Transportation, Maybury was appointed Director of Roads. In his new office he had charge of over 40,000 men, many of whom were quarry workers and skilled road workers in the Forces. He had to deal with some 4,000 miles of roads, and he excelled in the task which was given him. His services were recognised by the bestowal of the C.B. and the Legion of Honour in 1917, and he became C.M.G., and later K.C.M.G. in 1919. He retired from the Army in 1919 with the rank of Brigadier-General.

In 1919, under the Act which constituted the Ministry of Transport, the Road Board was absorbed in the new Ministry, and Sir Henry Maybury was appointed Director-General of the Roads Department in the Ministry. In the years which followed, some of them marked with industrial depression, he planned the construction of new arterial highways, and the modernising of existing roads, which gave considerable relief to unemployment. In 1928 Sir Henry resigned from his post, but he continued to work with the Ministry in an advisory capacity until 1932. For some years he was Chairman of the London and Home Counties Traffic Advisory Committee, and he held that position from 1924 until 1933. He practised as a consulting engineer in Bush House, Aldwych.

He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and after serving on the Council became President in the 1933-34 session. He was also President of the Institute of Transport in 1921- 22.


1943 Obituary [2]

Brigadier-General Sir HENRY PERCY MAYBURY, G.B.E., K.C.M.G., C.B., J.P., Past-President, was born at Shrewsbury in 1864 and died there on the 7th January 1943.

After leaving school, he became an assistant to the late Mr. R. E. Johnston, M.Inst.C.E., on the Great Western and London & North Western Joint Railway at Shrewsbury.

In 1884 he was employed by Messrs. Johnson Brothers & Slay, of Wrexham, on road and railway works: later he became manager of the firm.

In 1892 he was appointed Engineer and Surveyor to the Festiniog Local Board, and in 1895 received a similar appointment to the Malvern Urban District.

In 1904 he carried out schemes of sewerage and water-supply for the County Borough of Ludlow and also sewage-disposal experiments for the Worcestershire County Council. In the same year he was appointed County Engineer and Surveyor of Kent, and was responsible for the development and classification of the roads consequent upon the rapid increase in motor traffic following the removal of the speed restrictions.

In 1910 he became a member of the Advisory Engineering Committee of the Road Board, and in 1915 was appointed Chief Engineer and later Manager and Secretary of the Board. From the outbreak of war in 1914 he was responsible for the road work undertaken by the Board all over the country for the War Department, and in 1916 he was sent to France as Director of Roads, with the rank of Brigadier-General, and was responsible for the upkeep of about 4,000 miles of roads, quarries, and other vital works.

He was mentioned in Dispatches four times and his services were recognized by the award, in 1917, of the C.B. and the Legion of Honour, whilst in 1919'he was awarded the C.M.G., and in the same year was created K.C.M.G. From 1919 to 1928 he was Director-General of Roads for the Ministry of Transport, and after his retirement, which was signalized by the award of the G.B.E., he continued his service until December 1932 as Consulting Engineer and Adviser to the Minister of Transport on road and traffic problems....[more]


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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1943/01/15
  2. 1943 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries