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Durand Kershaw

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Durand Kershaw (1821-1871)

1873 Obituary [1]

MR. DURAND KERSHAW was born on the 6th November, 1821. He was the eldest son of Mr. William Kershaw, partner in the house of Messrs. Marjoribanks, Bankers, of London.

He was educated by the Rev. Mr. Zilwood, of Compton Rectory, near Winchester; and was afterwards apprenticed to, and served his time with, Sir John Rennie, Past-President Inst. C.E.

He entered the service of Her Majesty as a member of the Ceylon Civil Service on the 30th of November, 1844; was appointed Assistant Civil Engineer on the 1st of October, 1846, and Assistant Commissioner of Roads on the 1sto f January, 1851, when the two previously independent departments were combined under one head.

In the autumn of 1853 he came to England on leave of absence for eighteen months, returning to Ceylon in February, 1855; but not being satisfied with his position and pay as a Government servant, at a time when many men were making large sums of money by coffee planting, he purchased a coffee estate, and left the Government service.

He afterwards set up a manufactory at the town of Gampola, where he made and repaired machinery for coffee estates, &C., but neither coffee estate nor factory answered his expectations.

He remained in Ceylon until his health, hitherto good, began to fail, and compelled him to leave the island in May, 1871. It was hoped that his native air would restore him to health, but he afforded another instance of the fatal “one pear more” which has caused so many good and valuable men to die, either on their passage home from Indian climates, or soon after their return. A wish to carry out some pet scheme, to add another year’s claim for pension, to save a little more money, have often prevailed over the warnings of failing health, and, it is to be feared, will continue to do so.

While in the service of Government Mr. Kershaw built a large number of bridges, some of which are called after him, and constructed many public buildings ; among them may be mentioned the Queen’s House, at Colombo, the official residence of the Governor. He also designed and carried out the construction of several of the more important private buildings which were erected before 1860.

Mr. Kershaw went to Ceylon at a time when a gradual change was being made from a strictly military rule to a civil one, when most of the appointments in the scientific branches of the service were held by military men, and we,re looked upon as a sort of regimental preserve. The value of the services of a clever civil engineer could not fail, under such circumstances, to be very great. He had to carry out large works with insufficient means, perhaps the most painful thing possible fur a man in his position; and for these reasons he was sometimes obliged to use in buildings a smaller quantity of material than he approved of. But his bridges are all solid and substantial, and so are all his other works for which sufficient means were allowed.

Mr. Durand Kershaw was quiet and unassuming in his manner, a kind friend, and a general favourite with all those who had the pleasure of his acquaintance. He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 7th of March, 1854, and died at Mount Row, Guernsey, on the 28th of August, 1871, leaving a wife and four children.

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