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Arthur William Forde

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Arthur William Forde (1821-1886)


1887 Obituary [1]

ARTHUR WILLIAM FORDE, a son of the Rev. Arthur Brownlow Forde, of Maghull, Lancashire, and county Down, Ireland, was born on the 12th of July, 1821.

At the age of fifteen he was articled for five years to the late Mr. Godwin, M.Inst.C.E., the Engineer and General Manager of the Ulster Railway.

From 1840 to 1843 he was in the employment of Mr. Dargan, the well-known Irish railway contractor, engaged on the extension of the Ulster Railway from Lisburn to Portadown, and on the Belfast Waterworks.

He then re-entered the service of the Ulster Railway Company, and became Mr. Godwin’s chief-assistant and Resident Engineer of the extension of the line from Portadown to Armagh ; also on the Newry, Warrenpoint, and Rostrevor, the Newry and Enniskillen, and the Belfast and County Down railways; and he likewise assisted as General Manager.

In 1849 Mr. Forde became Chief Engineer to the Londonderry and Enniskillen Railway, and completed the line into Londonderry, and was then appointed General Manager, in addition to his duties as Chief Engineer.

He retained this position until 1855. In the latter year he was appointed Chief Engineer of the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway, and henceforward India was his home.

Mr. Forde constructed the Taptee Bridge, and was the first engineer in India to employ the Warren girders in bridge construction, as he had already done in Ireland.

From 1860 to 1862 he was engaged in constructing 20 miles of a railway of 2 feet 6 inches gauge for the Gackwar of Baroda,, and promoted a company in London for branch railways in India, obtaining favourable concessions from the supreme government. Mr. Forde was by some credited with being an out-and-out advocate of the narrow-gauge. This is not altogether correct. He was in favour of the narrow-gauge system, but only where it would have been too expensive to employ the broad gauge, and he was never an advocate for break of gauge.’ He was a conscientious labourer and did most of his work, even as to details, with his own hands. He left the employ of the Bombay, Baroda, and Central India Railway in 1860, and went into private practice up country.

In 1864 he settled and practised as an engineer in Bombay with marked ability and success. Mr. Forde began the work undertaken by the Frere Land Reclamation, and was for some years connected with the joint-stock company bearing that name. He also designed and built the Sassoon Dock, the first wet dock in Bombay. He reclaimed a large tract of land near Nowsaree, covering about 7,000 acres, which was named the Seaforde Land Reclamation, after his family seat in County Down, Ireland. A considerable portion of this land has already been brought into cultivation. In September, 1878, Mr. Forde was appointed Consulting Engineer to the Bombay Municipality for Drainage and Waterworks, and held the appointment to the time of his death.

In December 1878 he made a comprehensive report on the general question of the new drainage scheme, and from time to time he was consulted by the municipal authorities in all matters of importance relating to drainage and waterworks, as well as in other matters.

On the retirement of Mr. Francis Mathew in 1882, Mr. Forde was elected President of the Sassoon Mechanics’ Institute, in which capacity he worked assiduously up to the time of his death in promoting its interests. He was a lover of art, and a skilful artist. His productions were exhibited every year at the Western India Fine Arts Exhibition ; and in 1885 he carried away the prize for the best oil-painting. He also took a great interest in photography, and was lately elected President of the new Photographic Society of Bombay. He was a director of several local joint-stock companies, a Justice of the Peace, and a Dean of the Bombay University in Civil Engineering.

Mr. Forde was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th of February, 1862.

He died in Bombay on the 25th of October, 1886.



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Sources of Information

  1. 1887 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries