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Norman William Roy

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Norman William Roy (1862-1896)

1896 Obituary [1]

NORMAN WILLIAM ROY, son of the late Mr. William Roy, of New Orleans, U.S.A., was born in Dundee on the 1st of October, 1862.

From 1878 to 1883 he served articles to Messrs. Thomas Meik and Son, and during that time he attended classes at the Watt Institution, Edinburgh, where he obtained several certificates and prizes.

He next acted as an Assistant on the River Witham Outfall Works and in 1885 returned to Edinburgh and attended the University classes there for some time.

In 1886-87 he was employed on the works of the Thirlmere Aqueduct, for the contractors, and on Warkworth Harbour, Northumberland, for Messrs. Meik and Son.

On the 1st of September, 1887, Mr. Roy sailed for India, having been engaged by Messrs. Glover & Co. for the contractors’ staff for the Saugor branch of the Indian Midland Railway. As agent in charge of at first 17 and afterwards 24 miles of that line, he displayed, during the twenty months occupied by the construction, untiring energy, ready resource in all difficulties and great tact in the management of the numerous petty contractors by whom the work, with the exception of plate-laying and the erection of girders, was carried out. It may be mentioned that during the first season of working there were over 30,000 men, women and children employed on the 46 miles of the Saugor branch. Mr. Roy, fresh from home and with only native assistants, had to deal with at least half of this great labour force. So judicious was his management that no disturbance of any kind occurred, and so well were the sanitary arrangements carried out by him and his fellow agents that there was hardly any sickness, other than fever, all along the line.

On the completion of the Saugor contract in July, 1839, Mr. Roy joined the staff of Mr. G. Murray Campbell, for whom he set out the Rawang extension (20 miles) of the Selangor Government Railways, and acted as Chief Agent until the opening of that section of the line. There, as in India, his capacity for organizing and controlling native labour was of great value.

Next, until February, 1894, Mr. Roy was in charge of 20 miles of line to Kuala Kubu for the Government.

He then joined Mr. Campbell in Siam and took charge of a section of the Korat Railway, the work on which was the heaviest on the whole line. Half the labourers had died from fever and the rest had fled, but the difficulties Mr. Boy had to face only brought into greater prominence his powers of organization. In three months the district was fully manned, a water-supply arranged and shops established for the sale of provisions.

But the climate and exposure had begun to tell even on his iron frame, the more so that he would take no rest. A chill, followed by malarial fever and other complications, necessitated his removal to the Bangkok Hospital, where he died on the 16th of May, 1896, full of courage to the last.

Mr. Roy was elected an Associate Member on the 4th of December, 1888.

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