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John Barraclough Fell

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1870.
1870.

John Barraclough Fell (1815-1902).

Known for the 3-rail system for tackling steep inclines; the first locomotive for which was designed by Andrew Alexander and built at the Brassey works at Birkenhead.

Birth of son George Noble Fell


1902 Obituary [1][2]

"...regret to have to announce the death, on the 18th inst., of an engineer who possessed unusual originality, and was at one time very prominently before the world.

Born in 1815, Mr. John Barraclough Fell spent the early part of his life with his parents in Tavistock-street, London, removing with them some twenty years later to the Lake District. Here in the forties he carried out his first railway contracts in connection with the Furness and Whitehaven Railway.

In 1852 he went to Italy, where for some years he was associated with the late Mr. Brassey and others, the firm being Brassey, Jackson, Fell, and Jopling, in the construction of several of the early Italian railways, amongst which were the..."[More]


1903 Obituary [3]

JOHN BARRACLOUGH FELL, born in 1815, spent the early part of his life with his parents in London, removing with them some twenty years later to the Lake District. Here in the 'forties' he carried out his first railway contracts in connection with the Furness and Whitehaven Railway.

In 1852 he went to Italy, where for some years he was associated with the late Mr. Brassey and others - the firm being Brassey, Jackson, Fell and Jopling - in the construction of several of the early Italian railways, amongst which were the Central of Italy, the Maremma and the Genoa and Voltre lines. Traversing the Mont Cenis frequently by road induced him to give his attention to the study of mountain railways, with the result that he perfected what is known as the 'Fell Centre-Rail System.'

In the years 1864-65 he carried out experiments on the Gothland Incline of the High Peak Railway in Derbyshire which resulted in the subsequent adoption of the system to the crossing of the Mont Cenis Pass of the Alps, between St. Michel in France and Susa in Italy. This was the first Alpine railway, and it carried the international traffic between Italy and France, as well as the Indian mail prior to the opening of the great tunnel. The system was afterwards applied to the Canto Gallo Railway in Brazil, and also to the Wellington and Masterton Railway in New Zealand, where it has been in operation for nearly thirty years.

Mr. Fell also gave some years of his life to the Light Railway question, commencing with the mono-rail system, which, after a series of trials, he rejected in favour of a gauge of 8 inches, as adopted on the Parkhouse Mineral Railway in North Lancashire, and ultimatley of 3 feet, of which the Torrington and Marland Railway in North Devon is an example.

During the years 1873-74 he undertook a series of trials for the War Office, at Aldershot, in connection with the rapid construction of field railways for the transport of troops and stores in time of war, when a difficult and severe programme, drawn up by the military authorities, was successfully carried out. In connection with the centre-rail system and with light railways he was assisted by and associated with his son, Mr. G. Noble Fell.

Mr. Fell took pleasure in relating three events in his life, namely, that he placed the first steamer on the English Lakes, launched on Windermere in the year 1851 and christened by Mrs. Fell; that he constructed the first railway in the Papal States of Italy; and that he carried the first railway over the Alps.

Although he practically retired from business many pars ago, nothing gave him more pleasure than a business chat, and up to the last his mind was as vigorous and powerful as ever, and his memory, always phenomenal, never failed. He died at his residence, 68 Leyland Road, Southport, on the 18th October, 1902, in his eighty-eighth year.

Mr. Fell was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 3rd March, 1863.


1902 Obituary [4]



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