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Robert Harvey (1847-1930)

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Sir Robert Harvey (1847-1930), of Messrs. North and Harvey, Liverpool Nitrate Works, Iquique, Chile.(1883)

of 12 Kensington Gore, London, S.W.(1890)


1847 Born in Truro[1], son of Samuel and Emma Harvey, tailor[2]

1861 Apprenticed at Truro Foundry

1864 Apprenticed at William's Perran Foundry Co

1867 Continued as journeyman for the foundry.

1869 Went to Bolivia in charge of copper mining machinery.

Constructed 2 nitrate and soda factories

1876 Appointed engineer at the Peruvian government's nitrate works

1879 Moved to Chile

Also in charge of the Patillos railway

1880 Elected associate of Inst of Civil Engineers[3]

1883 of Messrs North and Harvey, Iquique, Chile; became a member of the Inst of Mech Eng[4]

1901 Robert Harvey 53, living on own means in Kensington with Alida M Harvey 41 (b. Peru), Alida L Harvey 19 (b.Peru), Alfred N Harvey 8 (b.London), Robert A Harvey 4 (b.London) and his sister in law Marie L Pendairs 38, and niece, Alida L Pendairs 19 [5]

1911 Bank and railway director of Chilean companies, widower, lived in Totnes; also at the address Robert Edward Brittain 2, Alida Rosemary Brittain 1, his grandchildren [6]

1930 Died in Falmouth[7]



1930 Obituary [8]

Sir ROBERT HARVEY devoted practically the whole of his life to engineering work in South America. He first went abroad at the age of 21, after serving an apprenticeship at Sir Frederick Williams's works at Ferran Wharf, to set up mining machinery in Bolivia.

In 1873 he constructed two nitrate factories and took charge of them until he was appointed as engineer and inspector-general of the nitrate of soda works and deposits owned by the Peruvian Government. Later the Chileans took possession of the territory, but retained Sir Robert's services for two years, when he resigned.

He was also in charge of the Patillos Railway for six years, and was the consulting engineer to a number of nitrate of soda firms.

In 1881 he became associated with the late Colonel North in the development of the nitrate and subsidiary industries. The latter included the manufacture of iodine, for which he designed and directed works.

He also invented an apparatus for the production of nitrate of soda from "Ripios" or refuse from old works.

Sir Robert was associated with a great many companies in South America and took an important part in the development of railways, waterworks, and other successful enterprises. For a number of years he was chairman of the Nitrate Railways, the Arauco Company, the Tarapaca Waterworks Company, and the Anglo-South America Bank, and he was also a director of the Antofagasta (Chile) and Bolivia Railways.

Sir Robert Harvey was made a Knight of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in 1901.

He was elected to Membership of the Institution in 1883, and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

He died on 14th March 1930 at the age of 82.




See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. 1851 census
  3. Civil Engineer Lists
  4. Mechanical Engineer Records
  5. 1901 census
  6. 1911 census
  7. National probate calendar
  8. 1930 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  • Mechanical Engineer Proposal