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John England, Junior

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John England, Junior (1824-1877)

1824 Born son of John England, attorney at law, in Hull[1]

Educated at the local High School and was articled to the eminent engineer (later Sir) William Fairbairn. On gaining his degree, he was put in charge of design and construction of engines for the HMSS Megara and her sister ship.

When Fairbairn was commissioned by Brunel to design girders for the Menai Bridge, England and a Mr. Murray were charged with investigating various tubular forms and constricting a one-fourth scale model of the bridge to test its breaking strain. His work drew the attention of Charles Vignoles, who then employed England to supervise construction of the suspension bridge over the Dnieper at Kiev, a job which took five years, from 1842 to 1847. In recognition of his work he was offered the post of Captain in the Imperial Engineer Corps, but his health had suffered from the cold climate, and he decided to move to South Australia.

He arrived in Adelaide in 1851, and after a brief sojourn in Melbourne, he set up a contracting business in Adelaide, and after constructing a number of wooden bridges, submitted a design for a tubular steel bridge over the Torrens, together with a plan for extending King William Street (as King William Road) to North Adelaide.

He and William Robson Coulthard erected the Glenelg jetty, the first screw-pile structure in Australia. He was appointed City Surveyor, but resigned that position to take over the Adelaide Waterworks on the retirement of George Ernest Hamilton in 1858 and the amalgamation of that position with that of Resident Engineer of South Australian Railways. He supervised construction of the Thorndon Park reservoir and its reticulation.

He was instrumental in the erection of the Port Adelaide lighthouse and upgrading the Troubridge lighthouse.

He left the Public Service in 1867 after a Select Committee found he had authorised over-payment to the Thorndon Park contractor, and joined the firm of Wallace and Morel, who were laying the railway north from Port Augusta. This project was abandoned, and England left for Japan, where he had been appointed Chief Engineer of the Japanese Imperial Railways. He died in Shimbashi.


1878 Obituary [2]

MR. JOHN ENGLAND, JUN., passed his early years at Hull, and entered the profession under the auspices of the late Sir William (then Mr.) Fairbairn, M. Inst. C.E., at whose works in Manchester he served his time as an articled pupil.

In 1847 he was engaged by the late Mr. Charles Vignoles, Past President Inst. C.E., as an Assistant Engineer on the great suspension bridge over the river Dnieper at Kieff, where he remained for three years.

On leaving Russia he emigrated to South Australia, where he practised, on his own account, as a Civil Engineer for six years ; and among other works erected (in conjunction with the late Mr. W. R. Coulthard, Assoc. Inst. C.E.) for the Colonial Government the screw-pile jetty at Glenelg, about 1400 feet long. In October, 1858, Mr. England was appointed, by the Government, Engineer to the Adelaide Waterworks, and in December, 1860, Assistant Engineer to the colony, under the late Mr. William Hanson, M. Inst. C.E. Four years later he received an additional mark of confidence, by being appointed Government Resident Engineer to the South Australian railways, while retaining his post as Waterworks Engineer. These railways were 55 miles in length, and included the Adelaide and Port Adelaide, the Adelaide and Gawler, and the Gawler and Kapunda. His duties as Waterworks Engineer comprised the completion of the water supply to Adelaide and the construction of works for supplying Port Adelaide and Port Augusta, these two latter enterprises being designed and carried out solely by Mr. England.

He remained in South Australia until early in the year 1870, when he was engaged by Mr. H. N. Lay, at the instance of the late Mr. Morel, Assoc. Inst. C.E., as Chief Assistant Engineer for the government railways then about to be commenced in Japan. On arriving in that country he first made a preliminary survey overland from Tokio to Kobe, with a view to possible future operations. He was next placed in charge of the section of the railway between Kobe and Osaka, the whole of the works in connection with which were carried out under his direction until the opening of the line for traffic early in 1874.

Upon the death of Mr. Morel in October, 1871, and until the arrival of Mr. R. Vicars Boyle, C.S.I., M. Inst. C.E., as Engineer-in-Chief in August 1872, Mr. England acted as Principal of the Engineering Staff, subsequently receiving the title of Deputy Engineer-in-Chief. He continued in charge of the works from Osaka to Kioto, all the important bridges being carried out under his immediate direction. Upon the completion of these works and the retirement of the Engineer-in-Chief, Mr. England was selected to fill the joint position of Principal Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent of thc Tokio-Yokohama line, which offices he filled up to the date of his decease. This occurred at Shinbashi, Tokio, on the 14th of September, 1877, in the 55th year of his age.

Mr. England enjoyed the reputation of being an able and valuable assistant, ready of resource, and a hard worker. He was genial in disposition and cheerful at all times, qualities which made him a general favourite. He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 3rd of February, 1857, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 18th of December, 1866.


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