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William Henry Jones

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William Henry Jones (1853-1887)

1888 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM HENRY JONES was born near the town of Llantussaint, Glamorganshire, on the 25th of June, 1853.

He was educated at the old Cowbridge Grammar School, and was there distinguished for his athletic powers, which stood him in good stead later on in life when traversing the jungles and wilds of the Malay Peninsula.

On leaving Cowbridge he was articled to Mr. Henry Voss, M.Inst.C.E., one of the divisional engineers of the Great Western Railway, with whom he remained altogether about eight years. Mr. Jones, while engaged on the Great Western Railway, assisted at the conversion of the 130 miles controlled by Mr. Voss from the broad to the narrow gauge.

In January, 1881, he took an appointment as assistant engineer under Mr. Francis H. G. Caulfield at the Straits Settlements, where he was for some little time after his arrival employed in surveying land and carrying out public works at Taiping. He was then appointed Resident Engineer in charge of the Taiping Waterworks, and superintended those works from the commencement to the end.

After this he had charge of the Kurow Road, took the trial section for the State Railway, and was the Resident Engineer during the first year of its construction. He was then placed in charge of the public works in Lower Perak, including erection of lighthouses at the mouth of the Perak River, and the construction of many miles of road through pathless jungle. He also constructed the outlets for the drainage of the town of Telokanson.

In 1886 he was called to Larut, and was placed in charge of the State Railway as Resident Engineer and Traffic Manager, and had the satisfaction to see the undertaking he had commenced completed and opened for traffic. This was the first railway ever made in the province. When it is considered that the line was constructed almost entirely by natives, who had to be instructed at every turn in the method of doing the work; that the country through which the line ran was mostly swamp and jungle; and that the climate, by reason of its humidity, reeked of malaria, it will be acknowledged that the engineer had to contend with difficulties well calculated to test the mettle of any man. The necessary qualities for carrying out this undertaking were happily possessed by Mr. Jones, but the efforts which had enabled him to surmount obstacles, and to see his work well through, proved too great for his strength.

He died on the 12th of February, 1887, only a month or so after the opening of the railway. He was interred at the burying ground attached to the English church at Taiping.

Mr. Jones was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 6th of April 1880, having previously been a Student.

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