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British Industrial History

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William Greene

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William Greene (1819-1915), early railway engineer. Worked in France and Spain.

1819 Born in Newport, Isle of Wight

1847 Married Grace Mary Anne Wilkinson

1854 Birth of daughter Rose in Barcelona

1861 William Greene 42, railway engineer, lived in Llanelly, with Grace Greene 30, Rosa Greene 7, Nina Greene 3, Adele Greene 7 months[1]

1865 Birth of daughter Helen in Barcelona

1891 William Greene 72, retired civil engineer, lived in Chigwell with Alfred J W Greene 39, Grace A Greene 30, Maria F Greene 38, and grandchildren: Tristan M Greene 16, Philip O D Greene 14, Christian A A Greene 12, Felix J W Greene 10, Grace E M Greene 6[2]

1911 William Greene 92, retired civil engineer, lived in Derby with his daughters Rose De Medina 57, Helen M Greene 46, doctor of medicine[3]

1915 Died in Derby[4]

1915 Obituary[5]

DERBY papers announced recently the death of Mr. William Greene, who was one of the early pioneers in railway construction. He was born in January, 1819, and had hence reached the advanced age of ninety-six years. His father was a major in the 6lst Regiment of Light Infantry, which at the time of his son's birth was stationed at Newport in the Isle of Wight. When twelve years old, young Greene was sent to school at Tutbury, near Derby . When he was seventeen - i.e., in 1836, just when the railway madness was taking its hold of the country - he was apprenticed to an English engineer named Woodhouse, who was at that time surveying for a line in Ireland. One of the pupil's first responsible pieces of work was the laying down of a section of line between Nottingham and Leicester, which was long ago absorbed into the system of the Midland Railway.

Mr. Greene was later on connected with the construction of the line between Glasgow and Greenock. On both these undertakings he obtained experience in tunnel making, the two lines having tunnels through very different formations. It was doubtless this experience which led to his being chosen at the youthful age of twenty-two years to proceed to France in order to take charge of a section of the Rolleboise tunnel on the railway at that time being constructed between Paris and Rouen. During this work King Louis Philippe and some of his ministers came to inspect the operations, and Mr. Greene, having equipped the party, led it through the galleries. Some of the latter were so low that progress was only possible on the hands and knees, and Mr. Greene was wont in after years to tell jokingly how he had once made a king kneel down before him.

After working for some five or six years in France, Mr. Greene proceeded to Spain, where he remained for many years, holding an important position. He had charge of the laying out of several of the first of the Government railways. About the year 1856 he was engaged in the building of a line from Santander to Madrid. This line was in parts through extremely difficult mountainous country. Mr. Greene retired early from his profession, and for some time after he did so he remained in Spain.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1861 census
  2. 1891 census
  3. 1911 census
  4. BMD
  5. The Engineer 1915/06/11