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British Industrial History

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William Martley

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William Martley (1824-1874)

"He was the locomotive superintendent of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway Company, and although, owing to his pressing duties, he was rarely able to be present at our meetings, he nevertheless always evinced an active interest in the Society. On the occasion of our visit to the locomotive works of his company in 1873 this interest was manifested in a very practical manner namely, by arranging that work, of interest to our members, should be in course of execution in every department of the works." [1]

1864 William Martley, Locomotive Superintendent, London, Chatham and Dover Railway, London.[2]

1874 February. Died.


1875 Obituary [3]

William Martley was born on 4th January 1824 at Ballyfallon, Meath, Ireland; his father, Mr. John Martley, being a gentleman of family in that county. Showing early a strong taste for mechanical pursuits, he was articled to Mr. Daniel Gooch, then Locomotive Superintendent of the Great Western Railway at Swindon; and on the completion of his professional studies he received an appointment on the Great Western Railway at Exeter.

He subsequently held the office of Locomotive Superintendent on the Waterford and Limerick Railway, then a similar office on the South Devon and South Wales lines; and in 1864 was appointed Locomotive Superintendent of the London, Chatham and Dover Railway, which post he occupied until his death after a short illness on 6th February 1874 at the age of 50.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1864.


1875 Obituary [4]

William Martley was born on the 4th of January, 1824, at Ballyfallon, Co. Meath, where his family for many generations held a good position. He was a nephew of Lord Chancellor Blackburne, formerly Chief Justice of Ireland.

At an early age young Martley evinced great taste for mechanics; he was, accordingly, in 1841, articled to Daniel Gooch, at that time Locomotive Superintendent of the Great Western Railway, and passed through the usual course of training at Swindon. On the completion of his articles Mr. Martley received an appointment as District Locomotive Engineer at Exeter.

In 1847, he became Locomotive Superintendent on the Waterford and Limerick Railway, which post he occupied for a few months only, leaving Ireland to take a similar position on the South Devon line. Here he remained until the opening for traffic of the first section of the South Wales railway, from Chepstow to Swansea, in 1860, when he was appointed Locomotive Superintendent of the company, and continued in that capacity during the several extensions of the line, the headquarters of which were established at Newport, Monmouthshire.

During the 'battle of the gauges' Mr. Martley was engaged in conducting the experiments undertaken on behalf of the broad-gauge interest by Sir Daniel Gooch, and was on the Midland engine when it was overturned during one of the experiments between York and Darlington, but fortunately he escaped with only slight injury.

When, in 1860, the East Kent railway had become of sufficient importance to obtain the sanction of Parliament for its extension to the metropolis, and to changed its name to the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway, Mr. Martley was chosen by the directors Locomotive Superintendent, and was subsequently intrusted with important duties in the organisation and supervision of the company’s Channel steam service. He maintained his connection with the company till his death, which took place, after a short illness at Cedars Road, Clapham, on the 6th of February, 1874.

Mr. Martley possessed great ability as an engineer and superintendent; he was a man of strict honour and integrity, and was much beloved by his brother officers, friends, and workmen. He was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 2nd of April, 1867.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1875/02/12
  2. 1864 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  3. 1875 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  4. 1875 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries