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Francis Langford O'Callaghan

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Sir Francis Langford O'Callaghan (1839-1909)

1839 July 22nd. Born

1875 Married Anna Maria Mary Powell

Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement

O'CALLAGHAN, Sir FRANCIS LANGFORD (1839–1909), civil engineer, born on 22 July 1839, was second son of James O'Callaghan, J. P., of Drisheen, co. Cork, by his wife Agnes, daughter of the Rev. Francis Langford.

Educated at private schools and at Queen's College, Cork, he received practical engineering training under H. Conybeare between 1859 and 1862, when he was employed on railway construction in Ireland and in South Wales.

He then entered the public works department of India by competitive examination, and was appointed probationary assistant engineer on 13 June 1862. He became an executive engineer on 1 April 1866, and reached the first grade of that rank in March 1871, becoming superintending engineer, third class, on 1 Jan. 1880, and first class in March 1886.

On 9 May 1889 he was appointed chief engineer, first class, and consulting engineer to the government of India for state railways, and on 8 Aug. 1892 he was appointed secretary to the public works department, from which he retired in 1894.

In the course of his thirty-two years' service O'Callaghan was engaged on the Northern Road in the Central Provinces (including the Kanhan bridge); on surveys for the Chanda, Nagpur and Raipur, Nagpur and Chhattisgarh, Sind-Sagor, and Khwaja-Amran railways; and on the construction of the Tirhoot, Punjab Northern (Pindi-Peshawar section), Bolan, and Sind-Pishin railways.

He was thanked by the government of India in May 1883 for his work on the Attock bridge across the Indus, on the completion of which he was made C.I.E. On four subsequent occasions the government tendered O'Callaghan its thanks, viz. for services connected with the question of frontier railways (Feb. 1886), for the construction of the Bolan railway (June 1886), for the erection of the Victoria bridge at Chak Nizam on the Sind-Sagor railway (special thanks, June 1887), and for the construction of the Khojak tunnel and extension of the railway to New Chaman.

In 1887 he was commended by the secretary of state for work on the Sind-Sagor state railway. Next year, for the construction of the railway through the Bolan Pass to Quetta, he was made C.S.I. His technical abilities were linked with tact, judgment, and genial temper.

On his retirement he returned to England, and was appointed in Sept. 1895 by the colonial office to be the managing member of the Uganda railway committee; and he held the position until the committee was dissolved on 30 Sept. 1903. In 1902 he received the recognition of K.C.M.G.

O'Callaghan was elected an associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on 12 Jan. 1869, and became a full member on 23 April 1872. He was also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He published in 1865 'Bidder's Earthwork Tables, intended and adapted for the Use of the Public Works Department in India.'

He died suddenly at his residence, Clonmeen, Epsom Road, Guildford, on 14 Nov. 1909, and was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Guildford. He married, on 22 Sept. 1875, Anna Maria Mary (d. 1911), second daughter of Lieut.-colonel Henry Claringbold Powell, of Banlahan, co. Cork, and left an only son, Francis Reginald Powell (1880-1910), captain R.E.

1910 Obituary [1]

SIR FRANCIS LANGFORD O’CALLAGHAN, K.C.M.G., C.S.I., C.I.E., formerly Consulting Engineer for Indian State Railways and Secretary to the Public Works Department of India, died suddenly at his residence at Guildford on the 14th November, 1909, aged 70.

The second son of the late Mr. James O'Callaghan, J.P., of Drisheen, County Cork, he was born on the 22nd July, 1839, and received his education at Queen’s College, Cork.

After a course of practical training under the late Mr. H. Conybeare, he entered the Indian Public Works Department in 1862.

In 1866 he was made an Executive Engineer and was placed in special charge of the Kanhan Bridge works. Subsequently he was employed on the railways of the Central Provinces, and was then promoted to the rank of Executive Engineer, first grade.

In 1889 he became Consulting Engineer to Government for State Railways, an appointment which carries with it the rank of "Chief Engineer of the first grade," the highest rank in the Public Works Department of India.

Three years later he was appointed Secretary to the Public Works Department, retiring in 1894, after over 30 years’ service.

Amongst other works, he built the bridge across the Indus at Attock, for which he received the C.I.E., designed and partly constructed the railway through the Khojak Pass to the Afghanistan frontier, and also built the railway through the Bolan Pass to Quetta: for this last work the C.S.I. was conferred upon him.

On his return to England, he was appointed by the Colonial Office managing member of the Uganda Railway Commission, which office he retained for 3 years. His services in connection with this undertaking were rewarded in 1902 with the K.C.M.G.

He was a director of the Burma Railway Company and of the Egyptian Delta Light Railways Company.

In 1875 he married Anna Maria Mary, daughter of Lieutenant Colonel Powell, of Banlahan, County Cork.

His bright, genial character and unfailing consideration for others endeared him to all who served with or under him, and he was undoubtedly the most deservedly popular officer in the Public Works Department; whilst his great ability as an engineer no less than his sound judgment and tact gained for him the entire confidence of the Indian Government.

Sir Francis O’Callaghan was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 12th January, 1869, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 23rd April, 1872.

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