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British Industrial History

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Jabez Church

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Jabez Church (1824-1875)

1875 Obituary [1]

The profession has lost an able and esteemed member, and those who know him, a sincere and valuable friend, by the death of Mr. Jabez Church, of Hamlet House, Moulsham. The deceased gentleman was well known among engineers, and employed considerable practice, especially with regard to gas, hydraulic, and sanitary engineering. He held the post of consulting engineer to several gas and other companies, and had always a large share of parliamentary business.

Mr. Church was a native of Essex, and had resided for twenty eight years at Chelmsford previous to his death. He took great interest in the prosperity of that town, and promoted it in numerous ways.

He joined the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1854, was elected president of the Society of Engineers in 1872, and occupied that position for two consecutive years, a term of office never previously nor subsequently fulfilled by any president.

Mr. Church died at the comparatively early ago of fifty-one, a circumstance which some of his friends attribute to the constant and unremitting attention he gave to his professional duties. There are many who will miss his pleasant face and genial smile, and sincerely regret he was not longer spared both to the profession and his friends.

1875 Obituary [2]

MR. JABEZ CHURCH, son of a well-known engineer of the same name, was born in London on the 2nd of April, 1824.

As a youth he was of a studious disposition, greatly affecting mechanical and geological subjects, On arriving at manhood, these proclivities, being pronounced, determined him to follow the profession of a Civil Engineer.

After the usual preliminaries, he obtained the appointment of Engineer to the Chelmsford Gas Co, and the connection thus begun continued throughout his whole career. The company's affairs were at the time in an indifferent condition, but from the moment Mr. Church took them in hand they began to flourish, and the concern is now a most successful undertaking. Mr. Church thoroughly understood and liked his branch of the profession, and soon made himself a reputation as a safe and trustworthy man to consult in all matters relating to it.

He was largely interested in gas engineering generally, having constructed or been appointed Consulting Engineer to nearly all the gas companies in his own county, as well as to many others in various parts of the kingdom. Among them, the Dublin Gas Co owes much to his skill and enterprise.

He did not, however, confine his attention to gas alone, but designed and carried out the water and drainage works of many towns and villages. He was also frequently engaged in giving evidence before parliamentary committees, and as he was conversant with the tactics of the committee-room, his services as a parliamentary engineer were much in request. Even under the most severe cross-examination Mr. Church was always imperturbably good-tempered, and this, combined with his known attainments, and a certain air of authority derived from a commanding presence, gave great weight to his evidence.

In 1871 Mr. Church was made President of the British Association of Gas Managers, in whose welfare he took great interest. He was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 7th of February, 1854, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 1st of March, 1870. He was also a Fellow of the Geological and other scientific societies. For nearly a year he had been in failing health, and during the last six months of his life had been entirely laid up.

His death took place on the 20th of May, 1875.

Amid the distractions of an active professional life, and while his services were in request all over England, in Wales, in many parts of Scotland, and in Ireland, Mr. Church yet found time to take his share of the public work of Chelmsford.

He was a member of the Local Board of Health, likewise a valuable coadjutor to the vicar of Moulsham as his warden ; and the poor have great reason to remember his benefactions. In this town he had built up a reputation as a Christian, a citizen, and a philanthropist. He was a man who could not fail to attract friends, his open countenance, and the cheerful, happy temperament which he preserved to the last, drew them to him, and, once gained, retained them. A fine specimen of an Englishman, in appearance and character, he fought the battle of life with honour, ability, courage, and energy, and as a reward attained conspicuous success.

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