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John Godwin

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John Godwin ( -1869)

1870 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN GODWN was born at Swansea.

His early studies led him to adopt engineering as a profession; and having, by his talent, and his industrious habit's, attracted the attention of Sir James M'Adam who introduced the system of road-making distinguished by his name, Mr. Godwin was taken, at the early age of fourteen years, under his care and patronage. Mr. Godwin remained with Sir James M'Adam between five and six years, and during that time was intrusted with the superintendence of several engineering works in various parts of the south of England.

This engagement terminated on Mr. Godwin's being appointed Surveyor to the Camberwell Trusts, London, when he received a valuable present from Sir James as a mark of appreciation and esteem.

After a few years he became the Surveyor and Engineer to the Liverpool and Preston turnpike roads, and remained in charge of those roads for a period of eight years, residing at the time at Ormskirk. His energy was not however confined to the duties of this appointment, but he was also engaged in the execution of various works in North Lancashire.

In the year 1836 he removed from Ormskirk to Belfast, on being appointed Engineer to the Ulster railway. The works were originally limited to the line between Belfast and Lisburn, and were designed by the late Mr. Thomas Woodhouse, M. Inst. C.E. Before the works had progressed very far, the originators of the scheme resigned, and the new Directors determined to appoint another Engineer. A deputation from the Board of Directors accordingly proceeded to Manchester, the then centre of railway enterprise and management, in order to select an efficient Engineer, and their choice fell upon Mr. Godwin, not merely on account of the high reputation he enjoyed, but also from bis unpretending and unobtrusive address.

Mr. Godwin continued to act as Engineering-chief of the Ulster railway until 1862, during which period he was occupied in extending the line from Lisburn to Portadown, and afterwards to Monaghan and Armagh. He was associated with several other railways in Ireland, -as the Engineer-in-chief of the Belfast and County Down, the Newry and Enniskillen, and the Newry and Warrenpoint railways, the engineering and Parliamentary difficulties of which were very considerable.

He was the first Professor of Engineering in Queen's College, Belfast; but he resigned that, as he did other appointments, some years before his death. Although during his earlier life he was actively engaged in the duties of the profession, he still found time to cultivate his taste for the fine arts. He was a ready and accomplished draughtsman, and a very good painter in oil and water colours, for both of which he had considerable talent, and which proved a great source of occupation and enjoyment to him in his leisure hours.

He was possessed of great kindness of heart, and though at all times ready and anxious to help the industrious, and to assist those in distressed circumstances, his dislike to anything bordering on ostentation or display rendered his many acts of benevolence unknown to any save the recipients of his assistance and bounty.

Mr. Godwin died at Tamnagharrie, in the County of Down, on the 15th of January, 1869, having lived but three years in the residence which he purchased on his retirement. It may with truth be said that his life was exemplified by all those qualities which adorn a scientific, practical, and honest man.

He was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 24th of June, 1845, but owing to his constant residence in Ireland, he was not able to be a frequent visitor at the meetings, in the proceedings of which he, however, took a lively interest.

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