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Frank Alexander Brown Geneste

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Frank Alexander Brown Geneste (1842-1888)


1889 Obituary [1]

FRANK ALEXANDER BROWN GENESTE, of Huguenot descent, was a son of the late Rev. Maximilian Geneste, Incumbent of Holy Trinity Church, West Cowes, Isle of Wight, and was born on the 28th of July, 1842.

Frank Geneste was educated at Winchester College, and was placed as a pupil with Mr. Habershon, architect, with whom he served a two years’ pupilage, commencing in 1860. He was subsequently with Mr. H. C. Wilson, civil Engineer, as pupil, on the works of the Newport-Pagnell Railway.

After this, he was employed on the following works: For nearly five years in India, on the construction of the Delhi Railway, for Messrs. Brassey, Wythes and Henfrey, the contractors for that line.

He then went out as District Engineer for Messrs. Waring, Brothers, contractors, on the East Hungarian Railway, and was nest engaged on railway surveys in the United States of Colombia for the Public Works Construction Company, first as Chief Assistant, and then Chief Engineer.

The Government of Venezuela, requiring a survey to be made for a railway from La Guaira to Caracas, Mr. Geneste was appointed as the Chief Engineer. This survey was conducted by him, and the line has been constructed.

He again was called upon to go to the United States of Colombia, this time for the Government of that country, as Chief Assistant Engineer. On returning to England, he entered into practice as a Civil Engineer in Westminster, on Parliamentary work, and on investigation of claims for compensation, &c.

In September, 18i7, he was nominated by Sir Charles Hutton Gregory, K.C.M.G., and appointed by the Crown Agent for the Colonies, as an Assistant Engineer on the Cape Government Railways, where he was chiefly engaged on the construction of the Beaufort West Extension of those railways; first as an Assistant, then as Acting District, and finally as District Engineer. This included the erection of some large wrought-iron bridges, besides other works of importance, the work being carried out departmentally, without the intervention of a contractor.

On his return from the Cape of Good Hope, at the termination of his engagement, he, in November 1880, undertook the construction of the Malta Railway, which he carried out with complete success. This work included a tunnel 4 mile long, under the lines of fortification ; also various military defence works. He was then appointed Engineer and General Manager by the Malta Railway Company, Limited, maintaining and working the line in a masterly fashion, as will be seen by any one who can read the local accounts of the different Festas, involving sudden and large traffic; his greatest care having been to avoid peril to life or limb, and his pride being a clean bill.

In November, 1885, he resigned his appointment at Malta, in order to take up the position of Resident Engineer and General Manager of the Santa Maria Railway, United States of Colombia, and left England in December of that year; but less than four months later, on the 1st of April, 1888, he died of typhus fever. His career makes it manifest that he was a capable engineer, of large experience. An accomplished artist, he rarely lost an opportunity of using this power ; and while always placing work before pleasure, his love of nature gave him that change of labour which to such minds is recreation. Comprehensive in his tastes; able with all the aids at his command, especially pen and pencil, he was ever ready to amuse or instruct even a child ; and duty being always paramount, his genial character served him in making the way of life pleasant as well as consistent.

He was elected an Associate on the 7th of April, 1871, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 13th of December, 1887.


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