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Richard Smallman

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Richard Smallman (1816-1872)

1841 Insolvent. 'Richard Smallman, formerly of Fairview Avenue, Dublin, Ireland, afterwards of Woodhead, near Manchester, Cheshire, then of the Quiet Shepherd, near Woodhead, then of Paintone, then of Deepcar, near Sheffield, then of Oughty-bridge, then of Norfolk-street, Sheffield, then of Piccadilly, Manchester, then of Gadley, near Hyde, then, of Mottram, Cheshire, then of Glossop, Derbyshire, then of Buckingham-street, Strand, London, then of Bexleyheath, then of Welling, then, of Maidstone and Charlton, Kent, and late of No. 107, North-street, Leeds, Assistant Civil Engineer.'[1] [2]

1873 Obituary [3]

MR. RICHARD SMALLMAN was born in Dublin in the year 1816.

His family removed immediately afterwards to London, where he passed the first seven years of his life; but at the end of that period they returned to Ireland, and Mr. Smallman received the rudiments of his education in his native city.

At the age of sixteen he was articled to Mr. Rowland Gray, at that time Engineer to a northern Irish county, where he learned the principles and practice of surveying; and was for some time employed on the Ordnance Survey of Ireland.

A few years later, Mr. Smallman became an assistant of Mr. C. B. Vignoles, Past-President Inst. C.E., when he was engaged on the Dublin and Kingstown railway, and on the survey of various Irish lines of railway.

He subsequently was engaged, under Mr. Vignoles, in the surveys of the Manchester and Sheffield, the Midland Counties, and several other lines of railway in the Northern and Midland districts.

In the dull years for the profession, 1839 to 1842, Mr. Smallman, like many other engineers, was thrown out of employment, and suffered some hardships and privations. But his energy, talent, and unflagging industry overcame these difficulties; and when, about the year 1844, railway business revived, he soon found employment on the survey of the new line of railway from Lancaster to Carlisle, where he secured the position of Resident Engineer during construction.

He was afterwards engaged for a short period in the Parliamentary Survey of the line from Carlisle to Glasgow and Edinburgh, at that time called the Caledonian railway.

In the year 1847, Mr. Smallman was appointed Resident Engineer on the Little North Western railway, a line between Settle and Leeds, with its branches. Here he remained for ten years, as Engineer during construction, and afterwards as Superintendent of Permanent Way and Works, and also of Locomotives. At the same time he had the supervision of a branch line to Poulton-le-Sands, and the construction of extensive docks at that seaport, of which Messrs. Coulthard and Allen were the contractors, they being also contractors of a considerable portion of the Little North Western railway, on which were some large masonry works, including two viaducts over the Crook of Lune at Caton.

In the year 1857 Mr. Smallman was offered, and accepted, the appointment of principal Resident Engineer of the Bahia and San Francisco railway in the Brazils, Mr. Vignoles being the Consulting Engineer, and Messrs. John Watson and Co. the contractors.

He sailed for that country shortly after, and previous to his departure was presented with a service of plate, the gift of numbers of his attached friends, both private and professional, in Lancaster and its neighbourhood, where he had resided for a number of years.

Mr. Smallman did not remain long in the Brazils. Shortly after his arrival at Bahia, he was seized with severe and dangerous illness, so much so as to necessitate his return to England in a few months.

After his return his health rapidly improved, and he found an appointment on a line then about to be commenced, from Sedburgh-by-Orton to the Lancaster and Carlisle railway near Shap.

Subsequently, Mr. Smallman became principal managing agent to Messrs. John Watson and Co., who had by this time achieved a prominent position as contractors, and who had, besides their contract in the Brazils, numerous other contracts in England, Ireland, and Wales, the principal being the Mid-Wales railway, and the Newry and Armagh railway, on which were some extensive works. In this capacity he continued until the year 1866, which proved so disastrous to the commercial community generally. Mr. Smallman was afterwards occupied in winding up the affairs of railway companies in liquidation to within a short time of his death, which occurred on the 27th of March, 1872, in his 56th year.

During a long course of professional practice Mr. Smallman proved himself an able Engineer: he was an accomplished draftsman, and a thorough office man of business generally; and not less so in an out-of-door capacity, being a quick and able surveyor and leveller; and, later in life, when called upon to design and superintend the construction of large and extensive works on the several lines of railway, he acquitted himself with the greatest credit.

He had a singular and happy knack of managing contractors and work-people - a far-seeing eye for economy in construction, and-whilst constantly studying the best interests of the railway companies by whom he was employed - he was no less a friend to the contractors, treating them with justice, as evinced by his decision in several arbitration cases. He was ready at all times to give his friends the benefit of his talents and experience; and many members of the profession are much indebted to him for advice and assistance in their younger days.

Mr. Smallman was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th of March, 1862.

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