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Henry Wakefield

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Henry Wakefield ( -1899)


1899 Obituary [1]

HENRY WAKEFIELD began his engineering career in 1841 as a pupil at the Great Western Steamship Co's works at Bristol, during the construction of the iron steamship Great Britain.

He was then, in 1847, placed under Mr. Brunel’s assistant, William Bell, who was at that time Resident Engineer on the Bristol Docks.

In the following year he was removed to Mr. Brunel’s London office, where he was principally engaged in making drawings for the Chepstow and other iron railway bridges.

During the years 1849 to 1851 Mr. Wakefield was employed by G. D. Bishopp and by Bryan Donkin and Co., in making designs and in superintending the construction of the 'Disk' steam engine and its application to various uses.

At the beginning of 1852 he re-entered the employment of Mr. Brunel, and was placed incharge of the inspection of the construction of the steamships and engines of the Australian Royal Mail Steam Navigation Company’s fleet.

From 1853 to 1855 he was employed in Mr. Brunel’s office on drawings and designs, principally for large iron bridges and dock gates; in inspecting the permanent way, materials and rolling stock of the Adelaide City and Port Railway ; and, in conjunction with the late John Brunton, in superintending the construction of army hospital buildings in Turkey, during the Crimean War.

In 1855 he was placed by Mr. Brunel in charge under T. H. Bertram, of the alterations and strengthening of the iron bridges of the Birmingham and Wolverhampton Railway, which then became part of the Great Western system. In the following year he was appointed joint resident engineer, with the late C. E. Gainsford, in charge of the construction, testing, floating the main trusses, lifting and completion of the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash, under R. P. Brereton, Mr. Brunel being Engineer-in-chief.

On the completion of that bridge in the summer of 1859, he returned to Mr. Brunel’s office in London, and was placed by him in chargoef the inspection of the materials for the Eastern Bengal and the Victorian Railways. He was then appointed to superintend €or the contractors, Bray and Waddington, of Leeds, the construction and ereation of the ironwork of the Victoria Railway Bridge at Pimlico, across the River Thames.

In the autumn of 1860, Mr. Wakefield began to practise on his own account. In 1861 and 1862 he made the drawings and designs of the hydraulic coal lifts and fittings for the Briton Ferry Docks for Mr. R. P. Brereton, and in 1863 superintended for that gentleman the repairing and refitting of the Great Eastern Steamship after the accident in Montank Bay. From 1861 to the time of his death he acted as inspecting engineer for constructional and general works to the Crown Agents for the Colonies. In that capacity he designed and superintended the construction in England of numerous iron bridges, lighthouses, dredging vessels, marine engines and dredging machinery for Bermuda, the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, Jamaica, Mauritius, Natal, Trinidad and other Colonies.

He inspected large quantities of railway materials, permanent way fittings, bridges, station roofs, etc., for several colonial railways. He also advised as to the projects and designs for bridges, markets and many other public works required by the Resident Colonial Engineers in many of the Colonies.

Mr. Wakefield died on the 18th April, 1899.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 5th March, 1878, and he bequeathed to the Benevolent Fund a legacy of £100, free of duty.



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