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Edward Case

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Edward Case (1842-1899)

1900 Obituary [1]

EDWARD CASE, whose unexpected death, at the comparatively early age of 57, occurred suddenly on the 23rd September, 1899, was in many respects a remarkable man, one who has left a name for originality of ideas, integrity of purpose, and great energy and application.

Born on the 6th September, 1842, he was educated at the Maidstone Grammar School and at the Queenwood College, Hants. After serving a pupilage in the office of Mr. Whichord, County Surveyor of Kent, he was appointed in 1866 an engineer in the Public Works Department of Ceylon. Whilst in Ceylon he had charge of large and important districts, constructed 10 miles of mountain railway, designed and erected several bridges and public buildings, and carried out important drainage, irrigation and water-supply works.

In 1883 Mr. Case retired from the public service, returned to his native town, Maidstone, and there practised as an engineer. In the following year he was appointed local engineer to the Maidstone Waterworks Company, and was engaged for that Company in 1885 and 1886 on a Parliamentary Bill for a large extension of the Works.

In May, 1890, Mr. Case was appointed to the office of Expenditor of the Romney Marsh Level, and on him then devolved the charge of the important sea defences at Dymchurch. The Dymchurch shore was in an extremely bad condition when he took it in hand, and the sea-wall, on the integrity of which depends the safety of the Romney and adjacent marshes to the extent of some 60,000 acres, was in jeopardy. This sea-wall, early in the century, was a very primitive affair, consisting mainly of rough blocks of stone thrown down in line, with the addition, in 1822, of paving in steep gradients, all of which was speedily undermined; and from that period all kinds of devices were tried, but nothing proved satisfactory, owing to the wasting away of the beach and sand, which exposed the foot of the work to the undermining action of the sea.

In 1859 about 18,000 superficial yards of paving were destroyed, and from that time the upkeep of the works proved an incessant drain on the resources of the Marsh. Between 1870 and 1890, no less than £68,296 was spent in defence work, and the deterioration continued unabated. Mr. Case had, therefore, a well-nigh hopeless task before him: a shore consisting of the softest description of mud, shifting sands and pools of water. The low-water mark was close to the toe of the paving, and added to the actual physical difficulties was the certainty that so long as the then existing depth of water was allowed so close to the protective works, so long would the damage continue to be repeated, and repairs be executed only to be destroyed. There was also the discouraging fact that the idea of low, inexpensive groynes did not find favour with the majority of the authorities of the Level. The problem to be solved might well have deterred many resolute and skilful men. A beach had to be formed if the sea was to be prevented from tearing away the wall and its foundations.

To this difficult task Mr. Case applied himself with characteristic vigour and determination, and the results have been particularly satisfactory, for the shore, which in 1894 consisted of pools of water standing low in the sluggish mud and sand, was, in 1897, a fine stretch of sand; the engineering difficulty had been overcome, a heavy beach had been formed, and low-water mark, which formerly touched the foot of the paving, had been pushed 400 feet seawards. This system of groyning, with which Mr. Case's name will be chiefly associated, is remarkable for its simplicity of design, the economy it effects in time, labour and cost of materials, and its successful results at Dymchurch and elsewhere.

Mr. Case wrote a Paper on the Dymchurch Wall for the British Association Meeting at Dover in September last; but as he was too ill to be present, the Paper was read for him. In the discussion which followed, allusion was made to a matter on which he held very decided opinions, viz., the keeping of reliable records of foreshore changes, as to which practically no information could be obtained from the Ordnance sheets and charts.

Mr. Case married, in 1876, Eleanor, youngest daughter of the late Mr. J. G. Nash, F.R.C.S., formerly the Colonial Surgeon of South Australia; besides his widow, a family of four children is left to mourn his loss. He had a large circle of friends, all of whom bear recognition to his originality, the intensity of his will power, and his thoroughly genial and outspoken nature. He was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Justice of the Peace and a Coroner of the Liberty of Romney Marsh.

Mr. Case was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on the 2nd May, 1882.

1899 Obituary [2]

"...death of Mr. Edward Case, of heart disease, at his residence, Dymchurch, Kent, on the 23rd inst. He was senior partner of the firm of Messrs. Case and Gray, consulting engineers, Westminster, and held the office of Expenditor of the Level of Romney Marsh since 1890.

For many years he was superintending engineer in the Public Works Department in Ceylon. Of late he had gained great distinction in the engineering world by his solution of the problem of sea defence, and by the wonderful results which he had obtained on a variety of shores. He was a magistrate, and..."[More].

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