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Francis Webb Wentworth-Sheilds

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Francis Webb Wentworth-Sheilds (1820-1906)

1849 Appointed engineer to the Sydney Railway

1850 Resigned from the Sydney Railway


1906 Obituary[1]

The death of Mr. Francis Webb Wentworth-Sheilds, M.Inst.C.E., at the ripe age of eighty-five, has removed from us one of the fathers of the engineering profession. He was the youngest son of the Rev. Wentworth Sheilds, M.A., and was born at his father's rectory of Kilbeg, Co. Meath, Ireland, on October 8th, 1820. . . . [more]


1907 Obituary [2]

FRANCIS WEBB WENTWORTH-SHEILDS died at Sholing, Southampton, on the 18th January, 1906, at the advanced age of 85.

Born in 1820, he was the youngest son of the Rev. Wentworth Sheilds, Rector of Kilbeg and Newtown, County Meath, Ireland. His mother, a member of the Plunkett family, died during his childhood, and becoming, through his grandmother, formerly Miss Wentworth, the representative of the Irish branch of the Wentworth family, he took the surname of Wentworth by Royal license in 1877. Educated in Dublin, Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds was apprenticed in 1837 to Mr. Charles Blacker Vignoles, Past-President, undewr hom he gained experience of railway work.

In 1843 he went out to New South Wales, where for 3 years he held the office of City Surveyor of Sydney, and subsequently became Engineer to the Sydney Railway Company, who were the first to build railways in Australia.

The operations of the company being temporarily suspended in 1851, Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds resigned his office and returned to England.

In 1852 he was appointed Resident Engineer on the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, then in course of erection, and held this position until 1858.

In 1857 he engaged in private practice in Westminster. He submitted designs for the construction of the Victoria Embankment, which were accepted by the Royal Commission appointed in 1861, and were subsequently carried out by the Metropolitan Board of Works on the lines of Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds' scheme.

He also designed a subway under the Thames between Deptford and Millwall, which, after receiving parliamentary sanction, had to be abandoned for lack of sufficient capital.

In 1869 he was requested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Robert Lowe, afterwards Lord Sherbrooke, to report on the means for improved communication between England and France.

In the absence of any feasible scheme for bridging the Channel, he himself designed a bridge with spans of 1,200 feet; but, after consideration of the various projects, he formed the opinion that a tunnel was preferable to any other means of communication. He was associated with the late Sir Gilbert Scott in the repair and restoration of various historic buildings, including Salisbury cathedral and the church at Stratford-on-Avon.

Between 1873 and 1875 he held the office of Inspecting Engineer to the New South Wales Government.

The engineering works carried out by Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds during his long association with Westminster comprise many and diverse undertakings at home and abroad. In this country he was responsible for sewerage works at Haileybury, Mortlake, Richmoncl, Barnes, and other places in the Thames valley; a large road bridge at Addison Gardens, Kensington; the renewal of the Cliff bridge at Scarborough ; and, in conjunction with Professor Aitchison, the enlargement of the Rotherhithe repairing dock.

Abroad, he conducted an important railway trial at Riga and designed the drainage of that city; at Oporto he designed and built the Crystal Palace exhibition building; he reported on sulphur springs in Iceland and on a Government harbour at Heligoland, and carried out various works in other countries.

In 1893 Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds left Westminster, where he was well known in parliamentary committee-rooms and at the meetings of The Institution, and passed the remaining years of his life at Sholing, near Southampton, where he had just completed sewerage works for the suburbs of Woolston and Bitterne at the time of his death. He was the Author of a well-known treatise entitled "The Strains on Structures of Ironwork," which was long a standard work of reference in that subject.

Mr. Wentworth-Sheilds was greatly respected for his generous and sympathetic character and for the high ideal of integrity and strenuousness which he held in public and private life.

He was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 1st April, 1856, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 6th December, 1859.


1906 Obituary [3]



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