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James Bell (1829-1883)

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James Bell (1829-1883)

1885 Obituary [1]

JAMES BELL, born at Newtown Forbes, Co. Longford, in 1829, was the eldest son of Mr. James Bell, who practised as an architect and builder in earlier life, and was Co. Surveyor of Longford for forty years.

James Bell, jun., was sufficiently competent, at an early age, to hold an appointment as Assistant-Engineer in the Famine Relief works of 1847-8. He afterwards entered the office of Mr. (now Sir Charles) Lanyon (then Co. Surveyor of Antrim, and engaged in extensive practice as an engineer and architect in Belfast and the North of Ireland) as an articled pupil. At that early period of life he displayed unusual ability, especially as a draughtsman, in advance of the recognized standard of thirty years ago, and an original and somewhat daring genius for architectural design, which, if pursued and chastened by more experience, might have resulted in conspicuous success in the sister profession.

After holding some appointments under Sir Charles Lanyon, as Resident- Engineer and Clerk of Works at the Belfast Lunatic Asylum Buildings, 1850-4, Mr. Bell passed into the Board of Works Office as Chief Draughtsman, where he took part in the design of many departmental works of importance with which his name was, of course, not identified.

At this time also he was engaged with Mr. James Farrell, C.E., Co. Surveyor of Wexford, as joint architect for the Lunatic Asylum at Enniscorthy, and for which the plans were prepared by Mr. Bell.

After assisting his father for a year, he in 1862 competed for the post of Co. Surveyor of the North District of the County of Dublin, obtaining the appointment against seven candidates selected from seventy competitors.

Thenceforward until his death on the 23rd of October, 1883, at the comparatively early age of fifty-four, Mr. Bell continued to discharge the routine duties of his office. He also designed and constructed several heavy works, such as sea-walls, repairs and additions to harbours, &c., occasionally engaging in architectural competition, exhibiting the powers and vigour of design which his professional contemporaries and intimate friends credited him with. Of taking appearance and genial manner, he inspired the personal regard of many friends, attracted by a character singularly affectionate and humorous.

Mr. Bell was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th of February, 1879.

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