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George Hustwait Wright

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George Hustwait Wright (1834-1889)

1857 Birth of daughter. 'On the 24th ult., at Nassik, Bombay Presidency, the wife of George Hustwait Wright, Esq., Great Indian Peninsula Railway, of a daughter.'[1]


1890 Obituary [2]

GEORGE HUSTWAIT WRIGHT, second son of George Wright, of Girtford Bridge, Bedfordshire, was born at that place on the 13th of February, 1834. He was educated at a school at Biggleswade, and was articled to a Mr. John Bull.

After three years' study of surveying and engineering, he was engaged for two years on surveys of railways in England and Portugal.

He then proceeded to India to join his brother William, who was at that time employed on the construction of the Bhor Ghat Works, and entered the service of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway.

After some time he was transferred from the construction to the permanent maintenance staff, and in the course of the twenty-five years that he served the company, he was Resident Engineer at Poona, Egatpura, and Nasik, and district engineer at Jabalpur.

It was in a great measure owing to his exertions that the portion of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway adjoining the East Indian Railway at Jabalpur, was completed in time to be opened in 1866 by H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh.

After the opening of the line to Jabalpur, the district of which Mr. Wright had charge was extended to Bhassawul Junction, the total length of lines included in it being upwards of 300 miles. He also for sixteen months officiated as chief engineer of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. Mr. Wright's qualifications as a railway engineer were well known to his professional brethren, and he several times received the thanks of the directors, and was commended by the officers who came to inspect the line. That he was kind and just in his treatment of his subordinates is evidenced by the fact, that on three several occasions they presented to him testimonials of silver plate.

When the Volunteer movement was set on foot in 1872, Mr. Wright was unanimously offered the chief command of the G. I. P. Railway Volunteers, and held the office for five or six years. The camps of exercise at Egatpura, during the time he was Colonel-Commandant, were most successful, and he was highly complimented on the efficiency of his corps by Sir Richard Temple, Governor of Bombay.

In March, 1881, Mr. Wright resigned his appointment, and returned to England. Within a few weeks of his arrival he was offered the appointment of Engineer-in-chief to the Egyptian Government Railways, in succession to Mr. Lee-Smith, and in October he proceeded to Egypt. In 1882 the Arabi rebellion broke out, and for three months the railways were almost entirely in the hands of the rebels, and were much damaged by them.

Mr. Wright gave the British military authorities great assistance at Alexandria during the campaign, and was frequently under the enemy's fire while on the armour-clad train, which he invariably accompanied. For his distinguished services he received the British war medal and the Egyptian bronze star. In June, 1883, the cholera broke out at Damietta, and in a month's time more than four hundred deaths daily were officially registered in Cairo, the disease being most active among the native and European employ& at Boulac. With the concurrence of the railway board, Mr. Wright promptly erected mat huts in the desert, ten miles from Cairo, and about two hundred families were transported there, the workmen being brought to and from the Cairo workshops by train. Mr. Wright visited this camp daily, and had the satisfaction of feeling that in this way a great number of people were nabled to escape infection. Mr. Wright had to bring into order a railway system 1,200 miles in length, which had been starved of money, materials, and intelligent supervision. His first step was to introduce lorries for the permanent way department, for up to that time the line had to be inspected on foot or on donkey-back. Considering the insufficiency of the staff he had Mr. Wright did wonders. The Railway Board of Administrators consisted of three irresponsible members, of three different nationalities, who could never agree on anything except masterly inactivity, and insisted that each matter, however trivial, should receive their solemn triple consideration and long-deferred sanction before any action could be taken. Mr. Wright did his best to alter this, and to carry on his reforms in spite of it. He gained the complete confidence of every administrator, and the respect and hearty goodwill of all his subordinates. His efforts to maintain the rights and redress the grievances of those under him, irrespective of their nationality, creed, or class, were universally acknowledged and admired. Under a regenerated board and improved regime many of the improvements and reforms which he had advocated have lately been carried out.

In July, 1887, the Railway Roard appointed Mr. Wright their inspecting engineer in England, and on his leaving Egypt, H.H. the Khedive made him a Commander of the Imperial Order of the Osmanlieh, he having been made some years before a Commander of the order of the Medjidieh.

Mr. Wright died at his country residence, Whitchurch, Oxon, on the 11th of December, 1889, of typhoid fever, supposed to have been contracted by him in Scotland, during an official journey in his capacity of inspecting engineer to the Egyptian Railway Administration. His kind-heartedness and geniality as a host, made him generally beloved by all who came in contact with him, whether in official or in private life. He was a keen sportsman, a good rider, and a great lover of flowers, and it may be mentioned that he did all he could to encourage gardening at railway stations.

Mr. Wright was elected a Member of the Institution on the 3rd of December, 1867.



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Sources of Information

  1. Morning Chronicle - Thursday 30 April 1857
  2. 1890 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries