Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 142,121 pages of information and 227,783 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
William Lawford (1820-1903)
1903 Obituary 
WILLIAM LAWFORD died on the 29th July, 1903, at his residence, 40 St. Helen’s road, Hastings, in his 84th year.
Born in Antwerp, of English parents, on the 27th January, 1820, he was brought to London when about two years old, and educated at Hackney.
In 1836 he was sent to Lubeck, where he acquired a knowledge of the French and German languages. On his return to London he studied mechanical drawing under the late James Hennell, one of the early engineers on the London and Birmingham Railway, and in 1839 he was articled to Robert Stephenson, who was then Engineer-in-Chief of the London and Birmingham Railway.
Mr. Lawford was subsequently in the locomotive works at Newcastle- on-Tyne for eighteen months, and assisted in the construction of the Newcastle and Darlington Railway.
In 1843 he was appointed Resident Engineer on the Bishop Stortford and Cambridge Railway, 25 miles in length, the construction of which he superintended. He also constructed the Enfield and Edmonton branch, and was afterwards employed on the Ely and Cambridge, the Chesterfield and Newmarket, and the Cambridge and St. Ives lines. These are all now part of the Great Eastern Railway Company's system.
In 1856 he joined the engineering staff of the London and North Western Railway, and had charge of the widening of l5 miles of that line.
In 1857 Mr. Lawford accepted an appointment in Russia on the Riga and Dunaberg Itailway, his knowledge of the German language qualifying him for residence in that country.
Returning to England in 1859, he was appointed acting engineer, under W. Baker, of the West London Extension Railway, and constructed all the works on that line, including a large bridge over the Thames.
On the completion of that work in 1862, he filled a similar position on the North London Railway, and constructed the City Branch of that line terminating in Broad Street.
In 1866 Mr. Lawford was appointed Assistant Engineer to the Great Western Railway, on which he had charge of about 950 miles of open line. He left the Company in 1869, and for twenty-five years practised on his own account in Westminster. During that period he was frequently employed by the London and North Western and the Great Western Railway Companies in prospecting branch lines, and among the works he carried out may be mentioned the Birmingham Suburban Railway, about 7 miles in length, and the Wotton Tramway, or Light Railway, about 10 miles in length, constructed for the late Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.
In 1875 Mr. Lawford was appointed Engineer to the Royal Commission on Railway Accidents ; and, on the recommendation of the Chairman (the late Duke of Buckingham) and the Earl of Aberdeen, he was sent by the Government to Belgium, France, Prussia and Switzerland, to enquire into and report on the working of railways in those countries. His report, and his examination thereon by the Commissioners, were printed in the Blue Book for 1876. The Bordeaux Tramways, about 40 miles in length, of which he was Engineer-in-Chief, were constructed by him and the late John Lawson, who was Resident Engineer and Manager.
For some years Mr. Lawford was Consulting and Inspecting Engineer to the Chinese Engineering and Mining Company at Kaiping, North China, where the coal mines were established and the Kaiping and Taku Railway constructed, all the pumping and hauling engines and other necessary plant and machinery for the works being made under his superintendence in England and Scotland. He was also Inspecting Engineer for the permanent way materials required for the Bay of Havana and Matanzas Railway.
Mr. Lawford successfully carried several railway Bills through the Houses of Parliament. He also examined and reported on slate quarries in North Wales. . . . [more]