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Edward Dobson

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Edward Dobson (1816-1908)

1842 Edward Dobson became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1881 of Christchurch, New Zealand

1908 Obituary [2]

EDWARD DOBSON died at his residence near Christchurch, New Zealand, on the 19th April, 1908, at the advanced age of 91. He was one of the earliest settlers in the province of Canterbury, with which his name and services are indissolubly associated. His early experience may be briefly summarized.

Born in London in 1816 he was articled to Mr. Herring, a well-known London architect, and subsequently spent a sketching tour on the Continent to such profit that his drawings were exhibited in the architects’ section of the Royal Academy.

After practising for some years on his own account as an architect and surveyor, at the same time studying engineering at University College, London, he was occupied between 1844 and 1850 on railway construction work on the staff of Mr. John Urpeth Rastrick, a well-known railway engineer of that day.

In 1850 he sailed for New Zealand, where, with a few years’ interval, the remainder of his long life was spent. It is unnecessary here to give in detail the history of his subsequent career, inasmuch as a vigorous and graphic account of his colonial experiences from Mr. Dobson’s own pen will be found in an earlier volume of the Proceedings, and should be read in conjunction with this brief memoir.

From 1854 to 1868 he held the office of Provincial Engineer of Canterbury, and during this period he was responsible for all public works carried out in the colony. Some of these undertakings were described in a Paper on the public works of Canterbury, for which the Author received a Telford Medal.

The next seven years were spent in Victoria, Australia, where Mr. Dobson held charge for a time of the Melbourne and Hobson’s Bay Railway. Subsequently he was appointed acting Engineer-in-Chief of the Victoria Water-Supply Department, in which capacity he carried out the Geelong water supply works described in a Paper which he communicated to The Institution in 1878, and for which he was awarded a Telford premium.

Returning to New Zealand in 1876, Mr. Dobson settled down at Christchurch as a consulting engineer and carried on practice there until a few years before his death, from 1898 in association with his son, Mr. A. Dudley Dobson, the present city engineer of Christchurch. For nearly 6 years from 1887 he held the appointment of lecturer in civil engineering at Canterbury College.

He took great interest in the Volunteer movement, and held a commission; subsequently he joined the Engineers’ Corps. Besides the communications presented to The Institution, he was the author of several works on engineering subjects, of which the best known is probably his work entitled "Pioneer Engineering,” embodying the results of his own versatile experience. He held several offices in connection with local institutions in New Zealand, and was well-known and generally respected for his integrity of character and professional ability throughout the colony.

Mr. Dobson was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 1st March, 1842, was subsequently placed in the class of Associate Members, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 29th March, 1881. He was thus attached to The Institution upwards of 60 years and was one of its oldest members.

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