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James Robert Mosse

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James Robert Mosse (1823-1904)

1865 James Robert Mosse, Engineer, Mauritius Railways, Port Louis, Mauritius.[1]

1905 Obituary [2]

JAMES ROBERT MOSSE, son of the late Major Charles Mosse, was born at Halifax, Nova Scotia, on the 31st May, 1823.

In 1838 he became a pupil of the late Captain W. S. Moorsom: among his fellow-pupils was Herbert Spencer, with whom he was engaged on the construction of the Birmingham and Gloucester Railway.

After completing his pupilage Mr. Mosse was employed for 3 years on the works of the Waterford and Kilkenny Railway as Assistant Engineer.

Proceeding in 1850 to the United States, he held charge for the next 2 years of railway works in Virginia and North Carolina.

In 1853 Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Betts employed Mr. Mosse to make a portion of the survey through Nova Scotia for the Intercolonial Railway to Canada, and in the following year, he received the appointment of Chief Assistant Engineer of the Nova Scotia Government Railways, becoming successively Manager and Chief Engineer of the system. This appointment he held until 1862, when, on the recommendation of the late Sir John Hawkshaw, Past-President, he obtained an engagement on the Engineering Staff of the Mauritius Government Railways, of which, 2 years later, he became Assistant Manager, and was promoted to General Manager in 1868.

In April, 1871, the Secretary of State for the Colonies appointed Mr. Mosse to the office of Director of Public Works and Director- General of Railways in Ceylon. The public works of this island comprise the construction and maintenance of roads, bridges, buildings and irrigation-works. During Mr. Mosse’s period of office the expenditure of the Public Works Department ranged from £372,OOO to £483,OOO per annum, exclusive of the cost of railway extensions and of the Colombo Breakwater and Waterworks.

While still Director of Public Works, Mr. Mosse acted for a time as Chief Resident Engineer during the construction of the Matale and Nanu-Oya Railway extensions, which are described in his Paper on the Ceylon Government Railways, read before the Institution in 1880.

After 26 years’ colonial service, of which 20 years were spent in the tropics, Mr. Mosse retired on pension in October, 1882, and discontinued the practice of his profession. On his retirement he received the official thanks of the Ceylon Government for the valuable services which he had rendered to that Colony.

Besides the above-mentioned Paper, Mr. Mosse also presented to the Institution a Communication on 'American Timber Bridges,' for which he was awarded a Telford medal and premium ; an account of the working of the very steep gradients on the Midland Line of the Mauritius Government Railway,’ for which he received a Telford Premium; and a Paper on the 'Construction and Equipment of Railways in Newly-developed Countries.'

Mr. Mosse was a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute and served for several years on the council of that body. He also acted, from 1891 to 1894, as joint treasurer, with the late Duke of Westminster, of St. George’s Hospital, London. Although his prolonged absence abroad permitted him to attend but rarely the ordinary meetings of the Institution, he always evinced great interest in its work, especially in the Benevolent Fund, which, in certain contingencies will benefit under his will.

In 1896 Mr. Mosse removed from London to Eastbourne and lived in retirement until his death at Tunbridge Wells on the 18th December, 1904.

Mr. Mosse possessed a wide and varied knowledge of railway engineering and management, was of scrupulous rectitude, extremely courteous and charitable, and was much respected by his staff and among his colleagues in the profession.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 14th January, 1862.

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