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Edward Bell

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Edward Bell (1812-1875)


1875 Obituary [1]

MR. EDWARD BELL was born on the 4th of October, 1812, at Hackney, where his education was conducted under Dr. Allen.

In 1827 he was articled to Mr. John Hague, M. Inst. C.E., for seven years, during which time he was employed in the drainage of fens in Norfolk and Lincolnshire, the Shadwell entrance to the London Docks, the St. Katherine’s Docks, the drainage and water supply of the city of Amsterdam, the mints at Amsterdam and Rio de Janeiro, &c.

After the completion of this service, he had charge of Mr. Ogle’s steam-coach for common roads.

In 1836 Mr. Bell was engaged by Messrs. Gower and Co., of London, to make surveys, valuations, and reports upon their property and establishments in New York, in erecting patent dips and hydraulic stages for lifting ships, and in inspecting the Erie and Philadelphia railroads.

On his return, in 1837, he obtained, through the agency of the Messrs. Gower, the appointment of Chief Engineer to H.H. Mehemet Ali, Pacha of Egypt, for three years, when he was occupied in altering and completing the graving dock and pumping machinery in the arsenal of Alexandria; in directing the transport of steamships and their machinery across the Isthmus of Suez to the Red Sea; and in superintending various works.

In 1840 he returned to England and commenced practice for himself, at the same time obtaining the Lectureship on Machinery in connection with Civil Engineering at the College for Civil Engineers at Putney. The principal works on which he was engaged were the Norland Waterworks at Notting Hill; Cwm Avon works, railway and dock at Port Talbot; waterworks and extension of gasworks for the town of Llanelly; Llanelly railway and docks in South Wales; Ton-Nawr railway and mountain inclines in South Wales; and the Manchester, Leeds, and York railways.

The Lectureship of the College was relinquished in 1845, and his private practice in 1850, when, at the solicitation of the Volga Steam Navigation Company, he went to Russia as its supervising and consulting Engineer. Here he was chiefly engaged on the improvement of the navigation of the river Volga; in directing the operations of the Company’s fleet, and in making surveys and plans for waterworks in the town of Simbirsk.

In 1854 Mr. Bell resigned this appointment, in consequence of the Crimean war, but did not return to England until 1855, having been detained in St. Petersburg for nine months as a prisoner on parole.

On returning to England, his health was found to be so impaired by the severity of the Russian climate, that, acting under medical advice, he sailed in October, 1855, for Sydney, N.S.W. Immediately on his arrival, in January 1856, he was appointed City Engineer of Sydney, and subsequently also City Surveyor.

He held these offices for fifteen years, during which time he carried out extensive drainage works, macadamised all the roads, designed and built the Exhibition building of 1868, which was opened by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh, built and started large waterworks at Botany, and designed and partly erected the town hall.

In 1871, his health again failing, Mr. Bell retired from the municipal service, and began to practice on his own account, at the same time taking a lighter appointment - that of Resident Engineer to superintend certain works proposed to be carried out at the north head of the Clarence river, under the harbours and rivers branch of the Department of Public Works,

On the expiry of it year, continued ill-health again obliged him to resign, and a sea voyage being recommended, he left for England, where he arrived on the 28th of February, 1874. At first he seemed to be making rapid progress towards recovery, but in little more than a year from the date of his return he was seized with an epileptic fit; and after a short interval of consciousness, quietly passed away in his sleep on the 5th of May, 1875, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.

Mr. Bell was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on the 4th of April, 1854.



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