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Christopher Bagot Lane

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Christopher Bagot Lane (1814-1877)

1877 Obituary [1]

MR. CHRISTOPHER BAGOT LANE was born in 1814 at Nurney. House, Co. Kildare, Ireland, the residence of his grandfather, Mr. Christopher Bagot.

After studying at Trinity College, he graduated at the Dublin University. His father, a surgeon in the army, desired that he should follow the medical profession, and to, that end placed him with the late Sir Philip Crampton, Bart. Civil engineering proving, however, more attractive than medicine, Mr. Lane, after the lapse of about a year, left Dublin for Edinburgh, where he speedily fitted himself for the duties of his new profession under University and other professors, and as a pupil of Mr. Ruthven, architect.

Between 1836 and 1837 he was employed on the Trigonometrical Survey of Ireland under Colonel Colby, R.E., on extensive surveys along the west coast.

In December 1837 he was admitted into the London office of the late Mr. I. K. Brunel, V.P. Inst. C.E., who was then constructing the Great Western railway, and with whom he remained for some years, being successively employed as an assistant-engineer under Mr. R. B. Grantham, M. Inst. C.E., and Mr. G. T. Clarke, on portions of the Great Western railway; from 1840 to 1842 in laying out railways at Merthyr Tydvil and Dowlais, as extensions of the Taff Vale railway; in 1843 and 1844 on the construction of the Bristol section of the Bristol and Gloucester railway, both for the broad and narrow gauges, under Mr. J. W. Hamond; in 1846 in preparing the parliamentary plans and sections for the South Wales railway, and with Mr. H. Brodie in getting out the estimates for that line; and from 1846 to 1849 as Resident Engineer of the Extension of the Birmingham and Oxford Junction railway through the town of Birmingham, having previously taken part in the preparation of the designs and estimates for the line.

In 1846 he was appointed Professor of Civil Engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, which, however, his more active duties obliged him to resign. In 1849 he was nominated by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as first occupant of the chair of Civil Engineering at Queen's College, Cork, which office he held with marked success till 1853.

At about this period railways were beginning to: be introduced. into Brazil, and the Imperial Government sought in England the services of some engineer of large experience and high character who might be constantly at hand to advise them in such matters. Mr. Brunel was requested to recommend some gentleman possessing these qualifications. He named Mr. Lane as eminently fitted for the post, who thereupon accepted the offer, relinquishing his professorship at Cork.

In July 1853 he took up his residence at Rio de Janeiro, as Consulting Engineer for Railways to the Brazilian Government. In this capacity he remained for six years, during which period three trunk lines were carried out, chiefly by English companies. He was constantly referred to by the Government, not only on points of construction, but also on matters of railway legislation, management, and finance.

In 1860 Mr. Lane returned to England, but the Brazilian Government, appreciating the value of his services, continued his engagement for more than eighteen months in London.

From 1864 to 1872 he was associated with Mr. E. Bagot, Assoc.Inst.C.E., as joint Engineers for the construction of the Swansea and Carmarthen extensions of the Llanelly Railway Company, and in connection with that company they prepared plans for various lines in South Wales and for docks at Llanelly, and also for the branch railway and docks at the Mumbles, near Swansea.

During the last few years of his life Mr. Lane made four journeys to South America, chiefly for the purpose of examining and reporting upon railways, projected or in course of construction, or of settling difficulties that had arisen between the parties concerned in them; his long professional experience, his knowledge of the country, language, and people, and his perspicacity and sound judgment rendering him particularly well adapted for such missions.

Mr. Lane was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of March, 1849, and he was transferred to the class of Members on the 2nd of December, 1856. In 1851 he communicated a Paper on the Birmingham Extension of the Birmingham and Oxford railway,’ for which a Council premium was awarded; and later, on his return from Brazil, he constantly attended the meetings, and frequently took part in the discussions. In January and April 1852, he contributed two Papers to the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland; the first, describing the works of the North Holland railway, concluding with observations on single and double lines, with special reference to the development of railways in Ireland; the second entitled “Observations on Earthworks,” which set forth clearly the amount and distribution of the labouring force required in large cuttings and embankments.

In 1860, when the subject of metropolitan intercommunication was receiving much attention, Mr. Lane published a pamphlet entitled “ Railway Communication in London, and the Thames Embankment,” in which he advocated the construction of a high-level railway extending from the Minories to Kensington, and following the line of the Thames Embankment, his object being to link together all the London termini of the leading lines, which was in part provided for by the Metropolitan railway. In this year he took the degree of LL.D. at the University of Dublin.

Mr. Lane was particularly fond of mathematical science, which remained throughout life a favourite pursuit. Possessed of a cultivated intellect, and a mind of considerable grasp, he had wide information, which a retiring disposition prevented from being generally known and appreciated ; and he had also excellent business powers. His sympathies with and inhence over young men were invaluable, always inspiring them with high and noble motives ; while all who knew him will remember him as a genial companion, a warm and generous friend, a man of the most unselfish disposition, and one actuated by the highest principles of honour and integrity. He died on the 11th of January, 1877.

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