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James Smyth Benest

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James Smyth Benest (1826-1896)

1896 Obituary [1]

JAMES SMYTH BENEST, born at St. Helier’s, Jersey, on the 26th of March, 1826, was the son of Mr. John Benest.

In 1845 he entered the office of Messrs. J. C. Sherrard and Sydney in Westminster, for whom he was extensively engaged on railway surveys.

He then acted as an assistant, under Mr. Joseph Cubitt, on the construction of the Great Northern Railway until 1849, when he obtained an appointment on the staff of the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers.

He resigned that post, however, in 1859, to become Borough Engineer of Merthyr Tydfil, where during the next four years he laid out a scheme of drainage, a portion of which he carried out.

In 1861 Mr. Benest began to practise on his own account, and in 1865 he was appointed Surveyor to the Commissioners of the River Wensum, at Norwich, which post he held for seven years.

In April, 1872, Mr. Benest proceeded to Rio de Janeiro as Resident Engineer in succession to his brother Edward, on the important drainage works of the Rio Improvements Company.

That appointment he resigned in February, 1884, and returned to Norwich, where he remained until his death, from congestion of the lungs, on the 29th of February, 1896.

His only engineering work after his return from Rio was at La Palisse (La Rochelle), where he went at the instance of the contractor for the docks then in course of construction, which were opened by President Carnot.

Mr. Benest had considerable skill as an architect and after his retirement gave his services in connection with several works, among which may be mentioned the restoration of Bodham Church, Norfolk, reopened in December, 1892, and the rebuilding of the parish schools at Southwold. His last work was a design for a memorial altar for Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone. His tastes were intellectual and his character was gentle and upright.

Mr. Benest was elected an Associate on the 9th of April, 1872, and was subsequently placed among the Associate Members.

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