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British Industrial History

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William Francis

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William Francis (1831-1888)

1851 Living at Whitehall, Kenwyn, Cornwall: William Francis (age 19 born Kenwyn, Cornwall), Land surveyor. With his widowed mother and four younger siblings.[1]

1862 Married at St. Austell to Julia Hawke Morcom

1881 Living at Sedgemore Villas, Uxbridge Road, Ealing: William Francis (age 49 born Kenwyn), Civil Engineer. With his wife Julia.[2]

1888 November 08th. Died. Probate to his widow.

1889 Obituary [3]

WILLIAM FRANCIS was the eldest son of William Francis of Whitehall, Kenwin, Cornwall, and was born on the 25th of September, 1831.

He was educated at Plymouth Grammar School, and was afterwards articled to Mr. Nicholas Whitley, Engineer and Surveyor of Truro.

In 1850-6, Mr, Francis was engaged on the Cornwall Railway, first under Mr. Glenny {probably William Glennie - Ed} in the preparation of the working plans, &c, subsequently acting as Assistant Engineer when the works were commenced, and latterly as resident in charge of about 10 miles of that line, between Grampound Road and Liskeard.

In 1856-7, he was employed as general Assistant in the Engineers’ Office of the Great Eastern Railway, and subsequently became Resident Engineer on the Ipswich and Woodbridge Railway, under Mr. Peter Bruff, the Chief Engineer.

In 1860, Mr. Francis removed to Hampshire, and under Messrs. Collister and Galbraith, superintended (1860-5) as Resident Engineer, the construction of the Andover and Redbridge Railway, now the property of the London and South Western Railway Company.

He was subsequently engaged in the preparation of the Parliamentary surveys of the Northampton and Banbury Railways, and after the Act was obtained, took charge of a section of the works until the same were suspended during the financial crisis in 1866.

Mr. Francis afterwards entered into business on his own account, and was extensively employed in arbitration work, the preparation of parliamentary plans, &c.

During the latter portion of his life, Mr. Francis turned his attention to contracting, and superintended the construction of the Ascot and Aldershot branch of the London and South Western Railway, for Mr. James Taylor. He also superintended for Messrs. Curry, Reeve and Co., the execution of the railway from Corfe to Swanage, now forming part of the London and South Western, and the Gravesend Extension of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, for Mr. (now Sir George) Barclay Bruce.

Mr. Francis was likewise interested in the contract for the first section of the North Cornwall Railway, from Halwill to Launceston. He was thoroughly conversant with the details of railway construction, which he had mastered both theoretically and practically; and from his genial disposition and good business habits, he was respected and esteemed by all who knew him. For the last twelve or fifteen months Mr. Francis had been in failing health, and he died at Ealing on the 8bh of November, at the age of fifty-seven years.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 5th of February 1867, and was transferred to Member on the 18th of February 1873.

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