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James Meadows Rendel (1799-1856) FRS, was a British civil engineer of Rendel and Beardmore
1799 December. Born near Okehampton, Devon, the son of James Rendle (1768–1838), a farmer and surveyor, and his wife Jane Meadows (1766–1841)
He was initiated into the operations of a millwright under an uncle at Teignmouth, while from his father he learnt the rudiments of civil engineering.
At an early age he went to London as a surveyor under Thomas Telford, by whom he was employed on the surveys for the proposed suspension bridge across the Mersey at Runcorn.
About 1822 he settled at Plymouth, and commenced the construction of roads in the north of Devon.
1824 James Meadows Rendel, Plymouth, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
In August 1824 he was employed by the Earl of Morley in making a bridge across the Catwater, an estuary of the Plym within the harbour of Plymouth at Laira. To guard against the undermining effects of the current, he formed an artificial bottom. The bridge, which cost £27,126, was opened on 14 July 1827. With the exception of John Rennie's 1819 Southwark Bridge over the Thames, it was the largest iron structure then existing, and Rendel received a Telford Medal from the Institution of Civil Engineers.
He soon entered into partnership at Plymouth with Nathaniel Beardmore, and his practice rapidly grew. In 1826 he erected Bowcombe Bridge, near Kingsbridge, Devon, when hydraulic power was first applied to the machinery for making swing bridges.
In 1831 he introduced a new system of crossing rivers by means of chain ferries worked by steam, and in 1832 he constructed a floating bridge on this principle, crossing the Dart at Dartmouth.
Between 1832 and 1834 similar floating bridges were erected at Torpoint and Saltash across the Tamar, which greatly facilitated the intercourse between Devon and Cornwall. For these achievements a second Telford medal was awarded to Rendel. The Torpoint Ferry still operates, albeit much updated. A similar floating bridge was implemented as the Woolston ferry between Woolston, Hampshire and Southampton in 1836.
During this period Rendel was also engaged in reporting on harbours and rivers in the southwest of England, and thus acquired that mastery of hydraulic engineering on which his fame chiefly rests. In 1829 he designed the harbour which was afterwards executed at Par in Cornwall; in 1835 he carried out works on the Bude harbour, dock, and canal, and in 1836 he designed Brixham harbour and the breakwater at Torquay.
In 1836-37 he designed, as a terminus to the Great Western Railway, the Millbay Docks, Plymouth, afterwards executed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. In 1843-44 he constructed canals in Devon, and was engaged on the Colchester and Arundel navigation; and in 1844 he designed harbour improvements for Newhaven and Littlehampton in Sussex. At the same time he was largely employed on marine works by the admiralty and other government departments, as well as by public companies.
The exchequer loan commissioners engaged him in 1835-37 in the repair of the Montrose suspension bridge after its fall. There he introduced the principle of trussing the framing of the roadway. This system of preventing the undulation, by which so many structures of the kind have been destroyed, was quickly acknowledged to be essential to their safety.
About 1838 Rendel dissolved his partnership with Beardmore at Plymouth, and settled in London, but still was chiefly employed on work for his native county. In 1841 he constructed the Millbay pier, Plymouth, a work of considerable difficulty owing to the depth of water in which it was built. Here he first introduced the method of construction since employed in Holyhead and Portland harbours.
In 1839 he was engaged in preparing schemes for a railway between Exeter and Plymouth, running over Dartmoor. At the time sufficient funds could not be raised, but an alternative coast line was afterwards carried out by I. K. Brunel.
In 1843 he made plans for docks at Birkenhead, which he defended before parliamentary committees against hostile local influence. The contest was long protracted, and the incessant labour served to shorten Rendel's life; his published evidence forms a valuable record of engineering practice of the period.
In 1844-53 he constructed docks at Grimsby; in 1848-53 extensions of the docks at Leith; in 1850-53 docks at Garston on the Mersey, with extensions of the East and West India and the London docks. As constructor of the Grimsby docks he was one of the first to apply W. G. Armstrong's system of hydraulic machinery for working the lock gates, sluices, cranes, &c. For this work he received a grand medal of honour at the Paris exhibition of 1855.
For the Admiralty he planned in 1845, and afterwards constructed, the Packet and Refuge harbour at Holyhead, and in 1847 he constructed the harbour of refuge at Portland. In the making of these great harbours he contrived, by means of elevated timber staging, to let down masses of stone vertically from railway trucks, and, by building up the masonry with unexampled rapidity to a point above sea level, contrived to reduce to comparative insignificance the force of the sea during building operations. As many as 24,000 tons (24 kt) of stone were deposited in one week. In 1850 he commenced making a new harbour at St. Peter Port, Guernsey.
1848 Partnership dissolved. '...Engineers, and carried on at No. 8, Great George-street, Westminster, in the county of Middlesex, was dissolved, by mutual consent, as from the 31st day of December lasts As witness our hands this llth day of February 1848. Jos. M. Rendel. Nathl. Beardmore.'
1851 Living at 8 Great George Street, Westminster: Jas. M. Rendel (age 50 born David's (?), Devon), Civil Engineer. With his wife Cathe J Rendel (age 47 born David's (?), Devon) and their children; Alex M. Rendel (age 21 born Plymouth), B. A.; Lewis Rendel (age 20 born Plymouth), Civil Engineer; Fanny Rendel (age 15 born Plymouth); Edith Rendel (age 12 born Plymouth); Emily Rendel (age 11 born Plymouth); and Hamel C. Rendel (age 7 born London, Mddx). One visitor, a governess and seven servants.
In 1852, in conjunction with William Cubitt and Richard John Griffith, he examined and reported to the Treasury upon the arterial drainage works in Ireland, and in 1855 he completed the suspension bridge across the Ness at Inverness for the commissioners of highland roads and bridges. His aid was also sought by foreign countries.
In 1852-53 he designed docks for Genoa; in 1853-55 he reported on the harbour of Rio de Janeiro; in 1854 he reported to the Prussian government on a naval establishment at Heppens on the river Jade; and in 1854-55, by direction of the Hamburg senate, he inspected the Elbe from Hamburg to Cuxhaven. For the Spanish, he devised a system of railways between Madrid and Oviedo, as well as improvements of the river Ebro.
In England his railway work was somewhat restricted, but he executed the Birkenhead, Lancashire, and Cheshire Junction line and in India he directed the construction of the East Indian and the Madras railways. In 1856 he reported on the new Westminster Bridge. His last work was a design for the suspension bridge across the ornamental water in St. James's Park, London.
In 1852 and 1853 Rendel served as president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, which he joined in 1824. He became a fellow of the Royal Society on 23 February 1843 and was elected a member of the council. He died at 10 Kensington Palace Gardens, London, on 21 November 1856.
1828 He married Catherine Jane Harris, who died on 18 July 1884, aged 87. Children included:
1856 November 21st. Died and buried in Kensal Green Cemetery
1856 Obituary 
"...and by a process common in these days-undertaking the work of six men, and literally dying in harness, working to the last with life's feeblest effort. This would be heroic were it necessitous, but in this case necessity had been long and far removed. Six men might have been laboring at the work, and six might still be living. Government engineer to the Portland, Holyhead, and other harbours; engineer to the Grimsby and other docks; engineer to the East Indian railway, the Madras Rail way, the Pernambuco Railway; consulting engineer to the North-Eastern, to Irish lines; saying nothing of other work; suffering..."More.
1857 Obituary 
James Meadows Rendel was born in the winter of the year 1799, near Oakhampton, on the borders of Dartmoor, in Devonshire.
He was the only son of a country surveyor and farmer, and the grandson of Mr. Meadows, F.R.S., a well-known architect of his day. His Father was a man of more than ordinary stature and massive frame, with a very intelligent face; plain in manners, and reserved in conversation, but conveying the impression, that he possessed an excellent judgement and a well-regulated mind; whilst to his mother, who was a woman of considerable acquirements, he owed the rudiments of his early education.
He passed his youth in the neighbourhood of Teignmouth, receiving his education at a country school, and being initiated into the practical operations of a millwright, with his Uncle, who resided there, whilst from his Father, who had charge of a district of roads, &C., he obtained a certain degree of familiarity with the rudiments of Civil Engineering.
At an early age he went to London, and obtained an engagement, as a surveyor, under the late Mr. Telford, by whom he was employed on the surveys and experiments for the proposed suspension bridge across the Mersey, at Runcorn.
About the year 1822, he settled at Plymouth, and commenced practice on his own account, being then chiefly employed in the construction of roads, in the north of Devon. In September of that year, having designed a suspension bridge for crossing the Tamar, at Saltash, he came under the notice of the late Earl of Morley. With that quickness which characterised his lordship in all matters of business, he suggested the applicability of the principle to the construction of a bridge across the Catwater, an estuary of the Plym, within the harbour of Plymouth, at Lary. The drawings having been made and approved, an Act of Parliament was obtained in 1823; but in the following year it was repealed, so far as related to the suspension bridge, and the powers were extended, authorising the erection of the present structure.
Lord Morley's penetration enabled him to perceive the powers of the young Engineer, and after satisfying himself, by application to Mr. Telford of the correctness of his opinion, he intrusted to Mr. Rendel, then only twenty-five years of age, the execution of this work, which he knew to be one full of difficulty and risk. Events justified the soundness of his lordship's judgement; and the generosity with which Mr. Rendel was shielded from all interference, made him feel that, in spite of his youth, entire confidence was placed in him.
This was so gratifying to his susceptible temperament, that the anxious superintendence of the works became a labour of love. At that time the communication between the opposite banks was carried on by means of a ferry-boat, which, from its peculiar construction, was called 'The Flying Bridge,' and had been established by the Earl of Morley, as proprietor of the ancient ferry, between Oreston and Cattedown. The new bridge consisted of five elliptical arches of cast iron, springing from abutments and piers of stone-work. From the loose description of the soil forming the bed of the river, considerable skill was required in securing the foundations of the bridge, from the undermining effects of the current, the rapidity of which was very considerable. This danger was effectually guarded against by Mr. Rendel, by the formation of an artificial bottom extending from 60 feet above to 70 feet below the bridge. In levelling the pile-heads, and paving the spaces between them, in order to make a firm basis for the piers, a wooden diving-bell was used, into which the light was admitted through lenses fixed in the top.
The works were commenced in August, 1824; the first stone was laid on the 26th of March, 1825, and the bridge was opened on the 14th of July, 1827. The cost of the works was £27,126. This bridge was, with the exception of that of Southwark, the largest that had hitherto been constructed of iron. Mr. Rendel presented a full description of the works to the Institution: this was published in the first volume of the Transactions, and for it, he received a Telford medal.
Whilst the Lary Bridge was being constructed, an accident occurred, which proved nearly fatal to Mr. Rendel. He fell off the scaffolding into the sea, and, being encumbered with a heavy coat and jack boots, he was submerged for some time before being rescued. The little glimmering of life that remained was fast being extinguished, by the exposure and judicious treatment of the bystanders, when, most fortunately, Dr. Cookworthy arrived, and after using protracted efforts, aided by the devices of medical science, he succeeded in restoring the latent spark of life. The most cordial friendship ever afterwards subsisted between Dr. Cookworthy and Mr. Rendel, in which their families participated.
An interesting feature of this accident was, that Mr. Rendel, whilst under the water, experienced the most vivid retrospect of every circumstance of his previous life, with a minuteness and fidelity perfectly marvellous.
In the year 1826, Mr. Rendel constructed the Boucombe Bridge, where hydraulic power was first applied to the machinery for working swing bridges.
Soon after the completion of the Lary Bridge, he constructed, for Lord Morley, some roads, the Cann Quarry Tramway, and a sluice of peculiar construction at the Chelson Meadows. He also made several turnpike roads, including the southern route between Plymouth and Totness, the road from Plymouth to Cornwall, via Saltash, and the road from Devonport to Liskeard, via Torpoint; and in connection with one of these roads, he designed and superintended the construction of a bridge over the creeks, at Kings ridge.
In the year 1831, he introduced a new system of crossing rivers, by means of chain ferries worked by steam power, and in 1832, a floating bridge was constructed by him on this principle, for crossing the Dart, at Dartmouth.
In 1832-34, similar floating steam bridges were established at Torpoint and Saltash, across the Tamar, which have proved of considerable utility to the neighbourhood, by the facilities they afford, for passing to and from Devon and Cornwall. Prior to their establishment, the only means of communication was by ordinary ferry boats; now vehicles, horses, and passengers, are conveyed across without any inconvenience.
The account of this bridge was laid, by Mr. Rendel, before the Institution in 1838, and was published in the Transactions. For this the Council again awarded to Mr. Rendel, the Telford Medal, the highest acknowledgement in their power, accompanied by a suitable record, of the sense entertained of the benefit conferred by him on the inland navigation of the country, in overcoming the difficulties of crossing rapid tideways.
He afterwards designed bridges of a similar character for crossing the Itchen at Southampton, and for passing between Gosport and Portsmouth. The rapid introduction of the railway system prevented, however, a further development of this useful system of crossing rivers.
He was also engaged in the endeavour to establish similar bridges over the river Hooghly, at Calcutta, and about the year 1838, he was consulted as to the feasibility of establishing this description of ferry over the river Severn, at Newnham.
During this period, Mr. Rendel was further engaged in examining and reporting upon the improvement of almost every harbour and river in the South West of England, and then acquired that mastery of what is termed hydraulic engineering, on which his fame will chiefly rest.
Thus, in 1829, he designed the harbour, which has since been executed, at Par, in Cornwall; in 1835, he designed and carried out works in connection with the Bude harbour, dock and canal; in 1836, he designed the Brixham harbour and breakwater at Torbay, for which an Act was obtained, also works connected with the port of Exmouth, in Devonshire, which latter were executed; in 1836-7, he reported to the Post-office authorities, on the practicability of building bridges across the river Severn at Aust and New Passages; and designed the Millbay Docks, now executing by Mr. I. K. Brunel, V.P.Inst.C.E., as a terminus to the Western railways; in 1837, he designed an extensive harbour at Helston, in Cornwall, and the restoration of Southampton pier; in 1838, a harbour for Poole, in Dorsetshire; and the Gosport dock and pier, the 1atter of which was executed; in 1840, he designed improvements and new docks in the port of Hull, and reported on the proposed steam-packet harbour and docks at Portsmouth, and on Sir John Rennie's plan for embanking the shores of the Great, Wash in 1841, the harbour of Polpero, in Cornwall, and river walls on the Avon, near Bristol; in 1843, improvements for the port of Harwich, and for Swansea harbour; in 1843-4, he constructed canals in Devonshire, and was engaged on the Colchester and Arundel Navigation; and in 1844, he designed harbour improvements for Newhaven and Little Hampton, in Sussex.
During this period he was employed by the Admiralty, and other Government Departments, as well as by public companies, on various matters connected with rivers, harbours, docks and other marine works In all cases he was engaged professionally, and in none was he the projector. He was also much employed, about this time, by the Exchequer Loan Commissioners, and especially, in 1835-7, in the repair of the Montrose Suspension Bridge, after its fall, where he introduced the principle of trussing the framing of the roadway, which is now acknowledged to be so necessary, to insure the safety of such structures, by preventing the undulation by which so many have been destroyed
About the year 1838, Mr. Rendel removed to London, leaving Mr. Beardmore, M.Inst.C.E., as his partner at Plymouth. He soon became extensively occupied on important works, and was engaged in the Parliamentary contests of that remarkable period in the history of engineering.
The works executed in the neighbourhood of Plymouth about this time, were, from 1835 to 1842, the improvement of the Devonport Water Company's service reservoirs and distributing mains, for the supply of water to the town, the dockyard and the public departments; and in 1841, the construction of the Millbay pier, in a small tidal basin at the top of Millbay, Plymouth. This pier was the precursor of the Great Western Docks, and was a work of considerable difficulty, owing to the great depth of water in which it was built. Here he first introduced the method of construction, since employed with so much success, at the great harbours of Holyhead and Portland.
In 1835-36, he projected several routes through the South of Devon, with the view of extending the Bristol and Exeter Railway to Plymouth.
In 1839, he was engaged, at the instance of the projectors, in preparing various schemes for an inland line of railway between Exeter and Plymouth, over Dartmoor, where the character of the district rendered necessary works of considerable magnitude, and demanded great skill and judgement on the part of the Engineer. The funds of the district were, however, insufficient for so large a work, and the railway was afterwards constructed, in conjunction with the Great Western Company, and by their Engineer, Mr. I. K. Brunel, V.P.Inst.C.E.
In the year 1843, Mr. Rendel became connected with the projectors of the Birkenhead Docks, his plans for which, whether they are ever completely executed, or not, will always be remarkable in the annals of engineering, for the praise and condemnation which they have alternately received, as well as for the extraordinary ability and success with which Mr. Rendel defended them, before numerous Committees of both Houses of Parliament, against the united influence of parties both at Liverpool and at Birkenhead. The design for these Docks brought Mr. Rendel very prominently before the world, and the protracted contests on this subject will not only be long remembered, in the history of Parliamentary Committees, but the evidence given by him and other Engineers, as now collected, forms a valuable record of the state of Engineering practice. The almost incessant labour, and the mental anxiety inseparable from this undertaking, were, however, more than even his powerful constitution could support, and it is feared that they tended to shorten his valuable life.
These hydraulic works were followed by many others, and Mr. Rendel has since constructed, in 1844-53, the new docks of Grimsby; in 1848-53, extensions of the docks at Leith, including a new steam-dock; in 1850-53, docks at Garston, on the Mersey, for the St. Helen’s Canal and Railway Company; a new junction dock and other works, for the East and West India Dock Company; and a new basin with dock and river entrances of a very large size for the London Dock Company in the Thames (now in progress).
With regard to the Grimsby Docks, it should be remembered, that the works were projected far out upon the mud banks of the river Humber, entirely beyond low-water mark, and that great difficulties were encountered in laying the foundations, owing to the treacherous nature of the substratum,- that the dock walls were executed in a novel manner, and yet, notwithstanding, the whole works were most successfully accomplished. Here, Mr. Rendel led the way in the application of the comprehensive system of hydraulic machinery, for working the lock-gates, sluices, cranes, &C., invented by Mr. W. G. Armstrong, M.Inst.C.E. For this work he received a Grand Medal of Honour from the Paris Universal Exhibition, of 1855.
In a discussion at the Institution, in 1849, on the preliminary works for these docks, Mr. Rendel thus expressed himself, as to the profession of an Engineer:-
'He was well aware how much Engineers had to learn, and how valuable an accurate knowledge of geology must be to them; but he assured the Reverend Dean (of Westminster, Dr. Buckland,) that, as a body, they were not so ill-informed as had been assumed, and that those who were anxious for the success of their works, adopted more precautions than he appeared to be aware of. They fully appreciated the necessity of a knowledge of geology, and although they might not be able to discourse upon it, with the eloquence of a Buckland, a Lyell, or a Sedgwick - to prosecute a microscopic investigation, with the discrimination of Owen, or Mantell, or to speculate so plausibly on the events of past ages, as were those eminent professors,- no careful Engineer decided upon the position, or mode of construction, of his works, without a series of trial borings, a careful examination of the specimens, and experiments upon them, with a view to ascertain their properties, and their capability for sustaining weights. Instead of accusing Engineers of knowing so little, it was rather a subject of surprise that they knew so much, when it was considered how much they were required to mix in the active business of life; and he considered that no other profession demanded such varied acquirements, or the exercise of such general common sense and judgement'
He also reported on and examined, at various times, most of the principal docks in the kingdom, including, amongst others, those at Cardiff, Hartlepool, Sunderland, and the Victoria (London) Docks.
About the year 1844, Mr. Rendel was engaged on the Edinburgh Water Works, and from 1846 to 1852, he acted as Consulting Engineer for the Company. The works of the extensions were executed under the immediate direction of Mr. J. Leslie, (M.Inst.C.E.).
In 1853, he reported to the Corporation of Leeds, on the supply of water to that borough, and suggested plans for its improvement.
In the year 1845, he was employed, with other Engineers, by the Admiralty, in reference to the great Packet and Refuge Harbour of Holyhead, and his plan being selected, he was intrusted with its execution. In 1846-7, he constructed a graving dock at the old harbour there.
In the year 1847, he was also intrusted with the Harbour of Refuge, at Portland. Both these works have hitherto progressed in the most rapid, successful, and gratifying manner; and even if he had done little more, they alone would suffice to hand down his name to posterity, beside those of Smeaton, Rennie, and Telford. They were conceived with the largest views. In both cases the system adopted was to deposit the masses of stone, of all dimensions, vertically from railway waggons, running on fixed timber staging, instead of employing the old system of dropping the stone from barges, or of running out a bank from the shore, and tipping the materials over the end and sides, allowing the waves to impinge with all their force upon the mass, before it had time to become consolidated. By this new system the mass was brought up simultaneously, to above the level of the sea, the utmost force of which it withstood with ease.
In this manner, as much as 24,000 tons of stone have been deposited in one week, whilst to supply this vast demand, monster blasts of 5 or 6 tons of gunpowder were frequently employed. It is worthy of remark, that, although the severe storms which have repeatedly occurred on the exposed coasts where they are situated, have done some injury to portions of the stages, and of the temporary works at Holyhead, not a stone would appear to have been carried away from the jetties at either place, and none of the pile standards of the stages at Portland, where they are secured into the ground by Mitchell’s screw-pile shoes, have been moved. The success of the system may therefore be said to be complete, in spite of the sinister predictions which prevailed before it was tried.
Mr. Rendel also designed, about the year 1850, and up to his death superintended the construction of, the new harbour at St. Peter Port, Guernsey, and, had he lived, would have constructed the new Harbour of Refuge at Hartlepool, for which an Act was obtained in the year 1855.
There is, indeed, scarcely a harbour in the kingdom on which he has not reported, either to the public, or private bodies having their direction, Of those not otherwise noted, mention may be particularly made of the harbours of Ardglass, Chichester, Langston, Lowestoft, Montrose, Peil, Scrimmerston, Wells, and Wexford; and of Port Carlisle.
Again in 1844, he made a design for a harbour at Margate; in 1845, his plan for the Dover Asylum Harbour was the one selected by the Royal Commission, although it was not ultimately adopted; in 1848, he designed improvements in the Devonport Dockyard, which have since been carried out by the officers of the Admiralty Works Department; in 1852, he proposed the extension of Wick Harbour, and gave designs for a steam-ship harbour and dock in the river Avon, at Kings Road (Bristol); in 1853-4, he designed the extension of the port of Whitehaven, and a floating dock and other works at Maryport; and in 1854, he reported on Kingstown Harbour of Refuge, with a view of affording increased steam-packet accommodation, and also on a project for a harbour of refuge and commercial basin, at Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope.
He was also much engaged in the improvement of rivers, and especially reported on the rivers Thames, Severn, Tay, Tyne, Lea, Ouse and Nene, the works for the latter of which, extending from Northampton to Wisbeach, with a view both to navigation and drainage, are now in course of construction.
He was likewise consulted as to the Norwich and Yarmouth navigation, and the Wye drainage and navigation.
In 1846, he designed docks and river improvements for the port of Lynn, portions of which have been executed.
In 1852, in conjunction with Sir William Cubitt, M.Inst.C.E., and Mr. Griffith, M.Inst. C.E., he examined and reported to the Treasury upon the Arterial Drainage Works in Ireland.
And in 1853-6, he directed the surveys of the river Kowie, Cape of Good Hope, and reported on measures for its improvement.
In 1854, he reported upon a project for a suspension bridge across the Hooghly at Calcutta; and in 1855, he completed the new suspension bridge across the Ness at Inverness, for the Commissioners of Highland Roads and Bridges.
The fame of Mr. Rendel as a Hydraulic Engineer, naturally attracted the attention of foreign countries, and he was employed by the Sardinian, the Brazilian, and the Prussian Governments, and the Senate of Hamburgh. In 1852-3, he designed docks and other works in the port of Genoa, and in 1854, he was authorized to proceed with the detailed drawings; and the execution of his plan only awaited the return of a more favourable monetary period. He likewise designed a Naval Arsenal in the gulf of Spezia. In 1853-5, he reported on the proposed harbour works at Rio de Janeiro, now constructing under the direction of his former pupil, Mr. C. Neate, Assoc. Inst. C.E.; and also on the plan for the sewerage of the city of St. Sebastian in 1854, he reported to the Prussian Government on a proposed naval establishment at Heppens, on the river Jade. In 18545, he inspected the river Elbe, on the part of the Hamburgh Senate, from Hamburgh to Cuxhaven, and designed various improvements in it, with a harbour at the latter place. These works have recently obtained the sanction of the Hamburgh Senate. He also devised a system of railways for the country between Madrid and Oviedo, as we11 as improvements of the river Ebro.
He was less engaged in railways than in hydraulic works, but, in England, he executed the Birkenhead, Lancashire, and Cheshire Junction Line, and, in India, he had the direction of the 'East Indian,’ and the 'Madras Railways,' the former projected by Mr. (now Sir) Macdonald Stephenson, Assoc.Inst.C.E., as the first of the vast system now being formed, and which will work such a revolution in the destiny of the Indian Empire. The Ceylon and the Pernambuco lines were also under his charge. He was likewise consulting Engineer for the Regent’s Canal and Dock Company, the Lynn Harbour Commissioners, the Exchequer Loan Commissioners, and the Jarrow Dock Company on the river Tyne.
In the year 1856, a report by Mr. Rendel and Mr. Simpson, M.Inst.C.E., on the New Westminster Bridge, caused considerable excitement, and induced much public discussion, relative to that structure; and his designs for the suspension bridge across the ornamental water in St. James’ Park, were only completed just before his fatal illness commenced.
About a month previous to his death, he was attacked with what appeared to be simply ague, or intermittent fever; but was, in reality, a fever consequent on internal disease produced by the depressed state of the whole system, due to an overwrought bod and mind. For some time he partially rallied, but after much suffering, it became apparent, that his strength waa exhausted, and on Friday morning the 21st of November 1856, he calmly drew his last breath, in the fifty-seventh year of his age.
Mr. Rendel was a man of great energy, clear perception, and correct judgment. He was systematic in his habits, accurate in his observations, ever anxious to discharge his duties to the best of his ability, generous in disposition, and possessing a warm apreciation for whatever was beautiful, or excellent, in Nature. With an admirable presence, he combined tact and statesmanlike qualities, which very greatly contributed to his success as a man of business.
His practical knowledge was well directed, and he knew how to make good use of the scientific acquirements and skill of all whose services he engaged. His evidence before Committees of the Houses of Parliament, was clear and convincing,- seldom failing in carrying his point,- and his reports on engineering works are so well conceived and drawn up, that it ma be hoped they will be collected and published for the benefit of the profession.
He was very frequently called upon by the Government to report on large works, the most implicit confidence being reposed in his truthfulness, the correctness of his views; and the fearless expression of his opinion. With these qualities, which were fully appreciated, it need scarcely be mentioned, that he rose rapidly to a very high position in the world, as in his profession. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society, and was elected on the Council;- he was a very early Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, having joined it in 1824, and had been for the last sixteen years upon the Council, holding the post of President during the years 1852 and 1853.
He was as amiable and kind in private life as he was energetic and firm in public, and his decease cast a gloom over the whole of the profession, of which he was a brilliant ornament