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John William Grover

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1870. Iron Pier at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich.
1871. Rolling stock for railways and tramways.

John William Grover (1836-1892).


1893 Obituary [1]

JOHN WILLIAM GROVER, born in 1836, was the only son of the late Rev. Henry Montague Grover, of Boveney Court, Burnham, Bucks, for thirty-three years rector of Hitcham in that county.

After being educated at Marlborough College and in Germany, he was articled to the late Sir Charles Fox, then a member of the firm of FOX, Henderson and Co., and during his pupilage was engaged not only in the works at Birmingham, but also on the construction of Rochester Bridge and of the Viesbaden and Eltville Railway, and in superintending the fixing of the tank on the top of the northern water-tower at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham.

He was then employed in the office of Mr. (now Sir John) Fowler, Past-President Inst. CE., for whom he subsequently made preliminary surveys for railways in Portugal and Spain.

On returning to England, Mr. Grover obtained, at the recommendation of Mr. Fowler, an appointment as draughtsman in the office of works of the Science and Art Department, under the late Captain Francis Fowke, R.E., and soon became head of the engineering and constructive department and chief draughtsman and clerk of the works. He superintended for Captain Fowke, the erection of the North and South Courts at the South Kensington Museum and of the Conservatory of the Royal Horticultural Society, then said to be the lightest piece of ironwork extant.

He also conducted a series of experiments on iron-floors and arch-ribs in wrought-iron; prepared reports on various buildings, including that for the Paris Exhibition, and superintended the original design and working drawings for the Exhibition of 1862; but, except as regards the domes, had nothing to do with the plans which were ultimately accepted.

At the request of the Secretary to the Committee of Council on Education, he wrote a short pamphlet on the "Education of the Working Classes,” for which the Committee awarded him a handsome present.

On the 1st of January, 1862, Mr. Grover, then twenty-six years of age, began to practise on his own account as a Civil Engineer in Westminster. Among the first works upon which he was engaged as Engineer were the construction of 27 miles of the Manchester and Milford Railway, and of the Hemel Hempstead branch of the Midland Railway.

In the year 1864 he was appointed arbitrator between the Manchester and Milford Railway Company and its contractor, the sum in dispute being over £25,000, and his award was made a rule of Court. He also assisted the late Major-General Scott (then Colonel Scott), in designing and in superintending the erection of the new lecture theatre at the South Kensington Museum, and subsequently of the Royal Albert Hall.

In 1868, in conjunction with the late Mr. R. J. Ward, he designed and carried out a wrought-iron pier at Clevedon on the Bristol Channel, an account of which he presented to the Institution three years later. He was also engaged on the surveys of various railways in England and on the Continent, and prepared designs for the works of the Mexican Railway. He acted for various railway companies in Wales, carried out the Westerham Valley branch of the South Eastern Railway, and designed the Kingsland iron bridge of 200 feet span over the Severn, which bridge presents some novel features of construction.

In 1873 Mr. Grover went to Venezuela and laid out the difficult mountain line from La Guaira to Caracas 3; he also made hydrographical surveys of the coast of that country which led to the construction of the harbour of La Guaira and the lighthouse of Los Roques.

On returning to England Mr. Grover abandoned railway work and devoted himself mainly to the question of water-supply, which at that time had become very prominent. Among the principal towns for which he designed and carried out waterworks during the next twenty years are Bridgend in Glamorganshire; Westerham in Kent; Newbury and Speenhamland in Berkshire ; Wokingham, Bracknell, and adjacent parishes in Berkshire; Leatherhead, Cobham, Ashstead and district in Surrey ; and Rickmansworth and the Uxbridge Valley, an extensive district comprising ten parishes in Herts, Middlesex, and Bucks. Some of these he described in a Paper, read before the Institution in 1887, entitled "Chalk-Water Springs in the London Basin," illustrated by the Newbury, Wokingham, Leatherhead, and Rickmansworth Waterworks, which, with three other Papers dealt with at the same time, gave rise to an interesting discussion on water supply from wells. Mr. Grover was an authority on the question of the present and future water-supply of the Metropolis, upon which he was frequently consulted. He visited the West Indies to report on the surveys for an extensive water-supply, and was also employed on similar works in Egypt, Austria, Denmark, Italy and Switzerland.

Mr. Grover died on the 23rd of August, 1892, after a long and painful illness, at the comparatively early age of fifty-six. He was an excellent draughtsman, gifted with a faculty for graphic pictorial effect. As a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Vice-President of the British Archeological Association, he found scope for the instincts of an ardent antiquary, his exertions in 1886 leading to the recovery and restoration of the well-known Clapham marbles in St. Paul’s church in that parish. Amongst his writings may be mentioned “Iron and Timber Railway Superstructures;” “Estimates and Diagrams of Railway Bridges, Culverts and Station Buildings;” “Old Clapham;” and pamphlets on “Flexible Rolling-Stock;” “Suez Canals from the Most Ancient Times to the Present;” and “Ancient Reclamations in the English Fenlands.” He was interested in several patents for machinery for various purposes, his spring-washers, by which the constant tightening-up of permanent-way fish-bolts was rendered unnecessary, being extensively used on railways in all parts of the world.

Mr. Grover was elected a Member of the Institution on the 5th of February, 1867, and, besides presenting the two Papers above referred to, frequently attended the meetings and took part in discussions on water-supply and on railways.


1892 Obituary [2]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1893 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  2. Engineering 1892 Jul-Dec: Index: General Index