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William Roberts (1844-1904)

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William Roberts (1844-1904) M.I.Mech.E., consulting engineer.

1844 Born in St Mewan, Cornwall[1]

1861 Pupil of Mr William Husband, M Inst CE, at Harvey and Co of Hayle

1865 Moved to work for Mr Sacre at the MS&LR

On completion of the apprenticeship he stayed with Mr Sacre doing both civil and mechanical engineering

1869 Appointed assistant manager of the Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway

1870 Elected as associate of Inst Civil Engineers[2]

1879 Consulting engineer, of 9 Victoria Chambers, Westminster; elected member of Inst Civil Engineers.

1881 Due to the great increase in traffic he handed over some of his responsibilities concerned with traffic but retained his responsibilities as resident engineer and locomotive and carriage superintendent.

1886 Resigned his position with the railway

1887 Elected to I Mech E

1890 of Argentine Great Western Railway, Mendoza, Argentine Republic.

1896 of 13 Craven Hill Gardens, Hyde Park, London, W.

1901 Civil engineer and company director, living in Paddington with his wife Anne[3]

1904 Died

1905 Obituary [4]

WILLIAM ROBERTS was born at Trevanion, St. Mewan, near St. Austell, Cornwall, on 2nd June 1844.

He was educated at Dr. Drake's Academy, St. Austell, and afterwards at the College, Taunton.

From 1861 to 1865 he served an apprenticeship at the Hayle Foundry, Cornwall, and then entered the service of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway under the late Mr. Charles Sacre, Chief Engineer.

He remained in the drawing office until January 1869, when, through the recommendation of Mr. Sacre, he was appointed assistant general manager of the Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway, which position he held until 1882, when he was appointed resident engineer and locomotive superintendent, retaining the former position until February 1885, and the latter until 22nd February 1884, it being decided at that time, as the result of the rapid development of the railway, that the engineering department should be sub-divided into Permanent Way and Works, and Locomotive, Carriage, and Wagon departments.

During his service with this company from 1869 to 1885, the railway had increased from 70.5 to 689 miles, including the very important extensions from Olavarria to Bahia Blanca and Tandil to Juarez, both of which were constructed during the time when he was the chief resident engineer of the company.

On leaving the Buenos Ayres Great Southern Railway, he started in Westminster as a consulting engineer, and his practice included the Buenos Ayres and Mercedes Extension of the Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway (66 miles), the Venezuela Central Railway, the Argentine Great Western Railway, &c.

In 1886 he became a director of the Costa Rica Railway and the North-West Argentine Railway.

In 1888 he was instructed by the Board of the Argentine Great Western Railway Company to make a detailed inspection of and report on this railway, and in the following year was appointed general manager for three years during a period of serious difficulty.

On the termination of this engagement, in 1891, he returned to London and subsequently joined the boards of several companies.

He was elected a director of the Buenos Ayres and Ensenada Port and Railway in 1894, and continued to serve in that capacity until its amalgamation with the Great Southern Railway in October 1898.

In the same year he because one of the first directors of the Imperial Portland Cement Company and took a great interest in the business, which he helped to found, his engineering knowledge being of considerable value in establishing the works, while his acquaintance among contractors and others materially assisted in making it a prosperous concern.

In 1902 he became one of the first directors of the British Automatic Aerators Co., and through his instrumentality the form and simplicity of working the apparatus was greatly changed.

His death took place suddenly while visiting in Upper Norwood, London, on 17th July 1904, at the age of sixty.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1887; and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

1905 Obituary [5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Mechanical Engineer Records