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Samuel Hansard Yockney

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Samuel Hansard Yockney (1813-1893)

Buried in Kensal Green Cemetery


1894 Obituary [1]

SAMUEL HANSARD YOCKNEY, born on the 12th of October, 1813, in St. Martin’s Lane, London, was the eldest son of Mr. Samuel Foyster Yockney, West India Merchant.

He was educated at Mill Hill School under the late Dr. Thorowgood. It was not originally intended that he should follow any profession, but family losses rendered it necessary that he should adopt a career at an age when many young men have already attained some position.

He was about twenty-four when he was placed as a pupil with the firm of Messrs. Stothert & Company - now Stothert and Pitt - of Bath.

Shortly afterwards, in 1838, he was appointed engineer and manager by the contractor for the Box Tunnel on the Great Western Railway, in which capacity he acted from the commencement of that great work, giving every satisfaction to the company’s resident engineer and coming under the notice of Mr. I. K. Brunel.

On the completion of the Box Tunnel, Mr. Yockney was placed by Mr. Brunel on the staff of the Great Western Railway and was entrusted with the charge of the construction of the tunnels and works between Bristol and Bath, which had been taken out of the contractor’s hands and were being completed by the Company.

He was also responsible for the manufacture of coke at Bristol, which at that time, as all locomotives used coke exclusively, was a very important office. In this capacity he initiated several important improvements in coke-ovens and became acquainted with the late Walter Coffin, one of the first of the Rhondda Colliery proprietors.

At that time the fostering of the coal-carrying business of the Great Western on the Bristol division, then the practical centre of the system, was added to his duties.

Finding that the coke-oven work at Bristol injured his health, Mr. Yockney was removed on application in 1846 to the South Wales Division and was engaged in the construction of the Newport Tunnel, of the Usk and Chepstow Viaducts, and of the line between Newport and Chepstow.

On the completion of the latter, he was placed in charge in 1851-52 of the construction of the heavy works between Stourbridge and Wolverhampton on the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton line. These included high timber viaducts and the Dudley Tunnel.

In November, 1853, Mr. Yockney proceeded to Paris for the late J. R. McClean, where he was engaged on bridges and embankments of the Seine and in laying railways in and around the city. He was subsequently engaged for a French company in selecting various lines in Italy and Switzerland by Mr. McClean.

On his return to England he was placed in charge of the heavy works of the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Railway, consisting of cut and cover tunnels for four lines of railway and massive retaining-walls of blue-brick work in Birmingham. He was also for a time engaged on the works of the Kennet and Avon Canal, and during his connection with the Birmingham and Wolverhampton railway he was in charge of the Stourbridge Canal.

In 1858-59 he was in the service of the Admiralty, in charge of works at Woolwich and subsequently at Gosport, where he constructed the landing-place used by the Queen. Mr. Yockney then returned to South Wales on being appointed engineer-in-chief and general manager to the Sirhowy Tramroad, which he converted into a regular railway and managed for over ten years. It is now part of the London and North Western system. During his connection with that line he endeavoured to introduce the iron brake-blocks now universally used.

In 1868 Mr. Yockney established himself in Westminster, where he practised until the time of his death, although of late years he lived in comparative retirement. During his active career in Westminster he carried out, in conjunction with his son, Sydney William Yockney, many railway and other works, among them being the Wye Valley Railway, the Guernsey Tramway, the Cardiff and Penarth Tramway, the East Worcestershire Waterworks, and Totland Bay Pier. He also acted for some years as engineer to the West Bromwich Commissioners in the early days of sanitary engineering.

In 1872 he brought before Parliament a plan to cross the Severn at Beachley by a bridge of two spans of 800 feet each, with less spans on the shore sides. This proposal, however, was reported against by the Great Western Railway Company’s advisers as too ambitious, and the tunnel was adopted instead. In recent years the most important work which passed through his office was the Rhondda Tunnel, 2 miles in length, which was carried out by his son.

Mr. Yockney was always wedded to his profession and kindred pursuits, and up to the last devoted much time to laying out and projecting works of utility. Like most men of active brain he had hobbies which he pursued in leisure moments; the study of geology was one, and gunnery and protection against shot another. During his service with the Admiralty he occupied himself with devising and bringing to perfection, not only armour, but the shot-screens now being introduced into ships-of-war.

Mr. Yockney married Frances Emily, daughter of Captain Holmes, R.N., who pre-deceased him. He died on the 29th of December, 1893, in the 81st year of his age.

Mr. Yockney was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of December, 1853, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 31st of January, 1860.


1894 Obituary [2]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1894 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  2. The Engineer 1894/01/05, p009.