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Antoine Greve

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Antoine Greve (1796-1857)

1859 Obituary [1]

MR. ANTOINE GREVE was born at Herkendam, on the Meuse, on the 12th November, 1796.

He was the only son of a very estimable citizen, who filled the office of Receiver of the Direct and Indirect Taxes of the District, and who, living to the great age of ninety-two years, had the happiness of seeing the son, for whose education and advancement he had made many sacrifices, attain a well-deserved eminence in his profession, and in the estimation of the scientific world.

In early life young Greve exhibited a decided predilection for mathematical studies; and being placed under a Government Surveyor, he soon profited so well by the opportunity as to be admitted into the Corps of Surveyors.

He was then permitted to continue his studies at the College at Maestricht, and from thence he received the appointment of Engineer Surveyor, of the Second Class, in 1812, and was placed order the orders of Mr. Hoogstraten, a celebrated Engineer then executing works at the mouths of the Meuse.

In 1813 he attained the rank of First-class Surveyor ; and during a short time he was occupied with partial military duties, being attached to the Allied troops.

In 1814, he was nominated Conductor of Works under the Government, and was for a time employed in the Office of the Inspector-General ; who, estimating his talents, made every effort, for his nomination to a higher position, but for a time without success.

During this period he was employed on several very important works, such as the construction of the Maritime Works near the Helder, -the Grand Canal which unites Amsterdam with the North Sea, -the Canal of Huninhock, -the Zederik Canal, &C., the cost of which works amounted to twenty millions of florins. In these labours he displayed great fertility of expedient, and with the best results ; his reputation as an Engineer was established, and, in the year 1825, he passed his examination with great credit, and received the appointment of Engineer of Roads and Bridges.

He was then immediately intrusted, in conjunction with Mr. De Thornize, with the construction of the important Canal across the Isle of Voorne, and, in consequence of his well-known experience, the burden of the work devolved upon Mr. Greve. He here first employed the flying bridges, which were introduced by him, and with such good effect as to lead to a saving of nearly one hundred thousand florins. The total cost of the works amounted to upwards of sixteen hundred thousand florins. These works, so skilfully designed, and so successfully executed, remained under the care of Mr. Greve until his decease. They are mentioned with eulogy by Mr. Van Houten, in his work on Hydraulic Engineering, page 440.

As an Engineer of Public Works, Mr. Greve was generally on duty in the Southern Division of the kingdom of Holland, where the great rivers debouch into the sea, and where, during the winter, the combined effects of the tides and of the swelled torrents call forth all the skill and enterprise of the Engineers. Upon their care of the dykes depends, in fact, the safety of the country, as a serious rupture would inundate an entire province. Such was the case when, on the 18th of February 1841, a rupture occurred in the dyke of the river Waal, and the town of Gorinchem was threatened with entire destruction Providentially the Engineers Mentz, Beyerinck, and Greve were at their posts ; and upon the latter devolved the duty of giving the necessary instructions, which were so well conceived, and so promptly executed, under his own personal supervision, that the district was saved from that utter destruction which at one period appeared inevitable. This successful result was not attained without great personal risk, and Mr. Greve was rewarded by the general admission, that to him was due the salvation of the place, and by the consciousness of his devotion to the public service being duly estimated.

In 1834, he was raised to the position of Engineer of the First Class; in 1852, he attained the position of Engineer-in-Chief of the Second Class of the Southern Provinces; and in 1854, he became an Engineer-in-Chief of the First Class. His services had already, in 1849, been recognized by the King bestowing upon him the Order of the Lion of the Netherlands. Twice he, also, received from the Batavian Philosophic Society, gold medals and premiums for Scientific Contributions.

Any detailed list of the works upon which Mr. Greve was engaged would be beyond the limits of this slight Memoir ; but among his labours the peat amelioration to the locks of the Mollegatslius, near Gouda, must not. be forgotten : their utility and their solidity would render them remarkable works in any country.

Mr. Greve was connected with many scientific Societies, but the Institutions of Royal Engineers, of Holland and of the Civil Engineers, of England, of which latter he was elected a Member in 1843, were those to which he was most attached, although he duly appreciated the distinction of being made an Honorary Member of the Batavian Philosophic Society.

He was a Member of the Town Council of the Hague, and in that capacity he took an active part in the works of improvement and embellishment of the town ; and projected several important ameliorations in the Canals, the Roads, and the Public Buildings.

A short illness of only eight days terminated the active and useful career of Mr. Greve, on the 15th of December, 1857, at the age of sixty-one, affectionately attended by his family, and deeply regretted by his professional colleagues at home and abroad, by whom his rare talents and goodness were universally appreciated.

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