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John Henry Greener

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John Henry Greener (1829-1895)

1895 Obituary [1]

JOHN HENRY GREENER was born at Etherly, Durham, in 1829. At an early age he came to London and obtained an engagement on the Blackwall Railway, where he first made practical acquaintance with the electric telegraph.

As an assistant to Sir William Fothergill Cooke, he was one of the earliest telegraph operators in this country.

In 1846 he entered the service of the Electric Telegraph Co (afterwards the Electric and International Telegraph company), of which the late Mr. Edwin Clark was appointed Engineer-in-Chief in 1850.

Mr. Greener was directed by the Company in 1853 to superintend the construction of the telegraph on the Norwegian Trunk Railway, the first line of telegraph in that country, and two years later he was sent to Denmark to perform similar duties on the Government railways of that kingdom.

On the completion of that work he was ordered to Ireland, to report on the state of the telegraph lines between Dublin and Galway, in view of the establishment of direct communication with the Atlantic cable, and on his return home was appointed outdoor assistant to Mr, Latimer Clark, who had succeeded to the post of Chief Engineer to the Company.

On the temporary failure of the Red Sea cable in 1860, it was considered advisable that England should have a second means of telegraphic communication with India, and Mr. Greener was selected by the Secretary of State for India to examine and report upon the condition of the Turkish telegraph lines from Constantinople to the Persian Gulf, through Asia Minor and Turkish Arabia.

In 1862 he returned home and reported to the India Office as to the possibility of the extension of the Turkish lines through Mesopotamia to Fao at the head of the Persian Gulf, and in the same year he was sent to Bombay to accompany, as Telegraph Engineer, the expedition dispatched to take soundings and to select suitable stations as landing-places for the proposed cable from Karachi to Fao. Mr. Greener constructed the line from Baghdad to Fao, whence a cable to Karachi was successfully laid, and telegraphic communication between England and India by this new route was completed in 1864.

On returning to this country in 1865 Mr. Greener was appointed Inspecting Engineer for Telegraph Stores to the India Office, and subsequently he also performed similar duties for the Crown Agents for the Colonies and for the Agent-General for the Caps of Good Hope. He severed his connection with the India Office a few years since, but retained his post at the Colonial Office until his death, which took place at Herne Hill on the 7th of April, 1895.

Mr. Greener was elected an Associate on the 4th of February, 1868.

1895 Obituary [2]

JOHN HENRY GREENER was born at Etherley, County Durham, on 26th June 1829.

He began his career in London with his uncle, Thomas Greener, who was one of George Stephenson's principal assistants in the construction of the Stockton and Darlington, the Liverpool and Manchester, and other railways, ending with the Blackwall.

It was in connection with the last that in 1843 he began to be engaged in electrical engineering in London.

In 1847 he entered the service of the old Electric Telegraph Co., with which he was connected for two years; and then returned to the Blackwell Railway in 1849 to take charge of the telegraphs.

In 1853 he re-joined the Electric Telegraph Co., by whom he was sent to construct the telegraph along the Norwegian Trunk Railway, which was the first line of telegraph erected in the Scandinavian Peninsula.

In 1855 he went to Denmark to construct the telegraph on the Royal Danish Railways.

Soon after his return to England, be proceeded to Ireland to report on the state of the telegraph lines between Dublin and Galway, for the purpose of establishing direct communication with the Atlantic cable.

At the end of 1860 he was appointed by the Secretary of State for India as telegraphic engineer to examine and report on the condition of the Turkish telegraph lines in Asia Minor, connected with Constantinople, with the view of establishing overland telegraphic communication to the Persian Gulf, and thence by cable through the Gulf towards India. This work was deemed necessary in consequence of the temporary failure of the Red Sea cable, when it was felt to be important to England to secure an alternative means of communication with India.

In 1862 he returned to England in order to report personally to the India Office the result of his investigations and his views on the scheme generally. As a result of this consultation, he was despatched to Bombay as telegraph engineer to an expedition for taking soundings between Kurrachee and Fao at the head of the Persian Gulf, and for selecting landing places for a proposed cable between those points. He had previously constructed the land lines from Baghdad through Mesopotamia to Fao; and the cable having been laid successfully to Kurrachee, communication between England and India along this route was completed in January 1865.

Returning to England, he was appointed inspecting engineer for telegraph stores to the India Office; and also held the same position to the Crown Agents for the Colonies.

In April 1887 he resigned his position at the India Office, but his connection with the Colonial Office was maintained till his death. This took place at his residence at Herne Hill, London, on 7th April 1895, in his sixty-sixth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1871.

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