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British Industrial History

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Richard Boyse Osborne

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Richard Boyse Osborne (1815-1899), Railway and bridge engineer.


Obituary 1900[1]

"...Mr. Richard Boyse Osborne at Glenside, near Philadelphia. Although one of the most eminent civil engineers of the United States, his name was practically unknown in this country. Born in London on November 3rd, 1815, he was the eldest son of R. B. Osborne of Graig, Co. Wexford, and of his wife, Lucinda Caulfeild, daughter of John Humfrey, of Killeig, Co. Carlow. When a young man, Mr. Osborne went to Canada, and some months later to Chicago, then little more than a village. During the four years he spent in the West and South he planned and laid out several towns which have since become cities of importance. In 1838 he joined the staff of the Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, and rapidly rose until he became the chief engineer. During the time he held that position he completed the main line of the Reading railway, constructed the Port Richmond branch and large wharves, and built many important bridges, tunnels, and stations. In 1845, Mr. Osborne returned to Ireland, and resigned the post of chief engineer of the Philadelphia, Reading, Mount Carbon, and Port Carbon Railways, to take charge of the construction of the Waterford and Limerick line. During the five years he remained in Ireland he became a life member of the Institute of Civil Engineers of Ireland, and introduced into Great Britain various American inventions and ideas of which his experience and sound judgement had shown him the utility. ..."More.


He embarked on a career as an engineer after receiving his education in Ireland. In 1834 he went to Canada, and moved to the USA in 1835. After becoming Engineer of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad in 1842, Osborne developed the first railway bridge to use all-iron Howe-type trusses, erected in 1845 near West Manayunk, Pa. Later that year he was appointed Engineer under Charles Vignoles on the Waterford and Limerick Railway, and was responsible for the design of several iron bridges on the line, including a large skew bridge at Ballysimon. In 1850 he left Ireland for Panama, and after six months he returned to the USA, where he remained, working as an engineer and railway promoter. He settled in Philadelphia with his wife, Eliza. He died in 1899.[2]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1900/01/12, p034.
  2. [1] Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720-1940