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Ambrose Awdry

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Major Ambrose Awdry (1844-1885)


1885 Obituary [1]

Major AIIBROSE AWDRY, R.E., was born on the 28th of April, 1844. He was a son of the late Sir John Wither Awdry, Chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Bombay from 1839 to 1842, and a grandson of the late Bishop Carr, of Bombay.

After being educated at Cheltenham college, and at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, he obtained a commission in the Corps of Royal Engineers, on the 9th of December, 1864, and continued his engineering education at the School of Military Engineering at Chatham.

In 1867 he was employed on the construction of the Fort at the Castle Hill at Dover, now called Fort Burgoyne. On the 15th of January, 1868, he was appointed an assistant engineer in the Bombay Public Works Department - his family connections having led to the selection of that Presidency as the sphere of his employment - and was posted to the Scinde Division, where he had charge of the Buildings and Roads in a large district and two military stations, and rose to the departmental rank of Executive Engineer, Fourth Grade, on the 1st October, 1871. While in Scinde he had the opportunity of gaining some experience in canal and railway-work; and that he took an intelligent interest in the harbour-works then in progress at Kurrachee was shown later on.

In May 1872, he was ordered to the Madras Presidency as Military Secretary to the late Vere Henry, Lord Hobart, whose wife was his mother’s sister, and who just then became Governor of Madras, and from this appointment he was transferred to the Private Secretaryship in March, 1873. In both capacities he secured the respect and esteem of all who had business relations with him, as their medium of intercourse with the Governor, performing the duties of both situations with tact and courtesy. His favourable opinion of the manner in which the Kurrachee Harbour Works had been carried out had much influence in determining Lord Hobart to support the design for a harbour at Madras, prepared by Mr. William Parkes, M.Inst.C.E., the Consulting Engineer of the Kurrachee Works, and which design is now in progress of execution.

On Lord Hobart’s sudden death at Madras, on the 27th of April, 1875, Lieutenant Awdry reverted to professional employment as Executive Engineer, Third Grade, in the Madras Public Works Department, and carried on the Road, Building and Irrigation Works, in the Coimbatore District till December 1879. During this period he did excellent work in the sad famine years of 1876- 78, commending himself to Government as an officer on whom reliance could be placed for strict performance of any duty entrusted to him. He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 4th of December, 1877, and on the 6th of February, 1878, he obtained promotion to be Captain in the Army.

In December 1879, he was transferred as Superintendent of Works, to the Buckingham Canal on the East Coast of Madras, obtaining departmental promotion to Executive Engineer, Second Grade, on the 1st of June, 1880.

By April, 1881, he had well earned a two years’ furlough to England ; but the 5th of November following found him back again at Madras, having been preferred to his old post of Private Secretary, by the Right Honourable M. E. Grant Duff, the new Governor. It is almost needless to say that his previous experience of the duties of this post, and the discretion with which he performed them, rendered his services peculiarly valuable to the new Governor, as they were grateful to all with whom they brought him in contact. The two officers of his corps, who officiated as Chief Engineers and Secretaries to Government in the Department of Public Works, during the two periods of his service in this important position, have both recorded their appreciation of his loyal co-operation, whenever he was in a position to further their views on engineering matters, and for the good of the department.

The end of twenty years’ service saw Captain Awdry’s promotion to Major on the 9th of December, 1884, and found him':in a public position of much promise ; so that his sudden death was felt as a calamity, not only by his own family, but by a large circle of attached and admiring friends. It resulted from his horse falling with and on him, when out hunting on the Neilgherry Hills, causing fatal rupture of internal organs, mortification whereof carried him off in a few days, on the 18th of May, 1883, after much suffering.


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