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Alfred Terry

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Alfred Terry (1838-1879)


1879 Obituary [1]

Alfred Terry was born at Leeds on the 1st of January, 1838.

At sixteen years of age he was articled to Mr. James Powell, land surveyor at Harrogate, with whom he remained until May 1859, when he accepted the appointment of an assistant engineer to the Recife and San Francisco Railway Company, at Pernambuco, the late W. M. Peniston, M. Inst. C.E., being the chief resident engineer.

In June 1861 he returned to England, and was again engaged by Mr. Peniston, to make surveys and prepare plans for harbour works near Weston-super-Mare.

On the completion of these surveys he accepted service under George Furness, Assoc. Inst. C.E., on the Metropolitan main drainage outfall works at Plaistow; and in March 1863 he became an assistant engineer on the Mid Wales and Swansea extension of the Llanelly railway, under John Watson, M. Inst. C.E., where he was occupied for two years.

In 1866 Eckersley and Bayliss selected him to take charge of a line of railway, from Chesterfield to Sheffield, which they had contracted to construct for the Midland Railway company.

The satisfaction given to his employers on this contract induced John Bayliss, Assoc. Inst. C.E., the managing partner, to allow Mr. Terry, jointly with the aforesaid management, to undertake, as sub-contractor, the construction of the Bretby branch, with the execution of which they had likewise been entrusted by the Midland Railway Company.

After the satisfactory completion of these two contracts, he was again charged by Mr. John Bayliss with the management and construction of the Mansfield and Southwell railway, also for the Midland Railway Company.

On the completion of this contract, in the autumn of 1872, he undertook the construction, on his own account, of the Mansfield waterworks.

The Midland Railway Company having decided, in 1872, to undertake, themselves, the construction of the first section of the Settle and Carlisle contract, Mr. Terry was appointed by their engineer, J. S. Crossley, M. Inst. C.E., manager and resident for the Company at Settle. This section was about 17 miles in length, and extended from Settle to Dent Head, where the Dee takes its rise, and from whence it flows into the Lune - one of the mildest and loneliest parts of Yorkshire, a district of moorland closed in by hills. The works were the heaviest of the four sections into which the Settle and Carlisle was divided.

As an instance of the nature of the soil, and of the difficulties Mr. Terry had to contend with, the boulder-clay encountered in the cuttings may be given as an illustration: "The workmen have been known to blast this clay like rock, and within a few hours have had to ladle it out from the same spot like soup, in buckets. Or a man strikes a blow with his pick at what he thinks is clay, but there is a great boulder underneath almost as hard as iron, and the man's wrists, arms, and body, are so shaken by the shock, that, disgusted, he flings down his tools, asks for his money, and is off."

The labour and anxiety of carrying out this work, added to the severity of the climate, so completely undermined the health of Mr. Terry - or, to use his own words, "added ten years to his age" - that towards the end of 1873 he was obliged to retire from business.

In August 1874, Mr. Terry again volunteered his services to Mr. John Bayliss, and was recommended by him to W. F. Lawrence, Assoc.M. Inst. C.E., the contractor for the Banbury and Cheltenham railway, then about to be commenced. The recommendation Mr. Bayliss gave will be best expressed in his own words: "He (Terry) is a first-rate man, and I am only sorry I have no new contract, so that I could again secure his services as agent. He will be found a pushing, hard-working, competent man, honest, and sound as a bell."

In November 1874, Mr. Terry was appointed chief agent of the Banbury and Cheltenham line, which was about 34 miles in length. The works were of an exceptionally difficult character, comprising tunnels, viaducts, and bridges; while deep rock-cuttings, and embankments had to be encountered in traversing the Cotswold Hills between Cheltenham and Bourton-on-the-Water, and the Oxfordshire downs from Chipping Norton to Banbury. Within a short period after commencing this line, its entire length was opened out, and the works vigorously prosecuted. Upwards of two thousand men were employed, the whole being organised under the direction of Mr. Terry. The contractor withdrawing from the contract in October 1876, Mr. Terry continued to superintend the works on behalf of the company until June 1877.

He then entered into a contract for the completion of the Banbury end of the line, which he carried on until November 1877, when the company decided to relinquish for a time that portion of the railway, and to first complete the Cheltenham section, as being the most important.

Mr. Terry thereupon retired from the contract; and after suffering severely for some months from rapid consumption, the seeds of which were no doubt laid during the arduous performance of his duties whilst carrying out the Settle and Carlisle railway, he was seized, on the morning of 2lst of February, 1879, with a severe fit of coughing, during which he broke a blood vessel, and almost instantly expired.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 4th of May, 1869.


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