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British Industrial History

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James Staats Forbes

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James Staats Forbes (c1823-1904)

1904 Obituary [1]

JAMES STAATS FORBES, whose death on the 5th April, 1904, at the age of 81, removed a well-known figure from English railway circles, obtained his first professional experience on the Great Western Railway, where as a youth he was given employment on the Engineer’s staff.

On receiving an appointment to the staff of the Dutch Rhenish Railway he abandoned the technical fort he administrative branch, in which his peculiar abilities secured for him rapid advancement in the company’s service. His connection with the London, Chatham and Dover Railway dates from the crisis in that Company’s affairs which occurred in 1863, when Mr. Forbes was called in and assumed control, at first as General Manager, and afterwards for many years as Chairman.

In 1899 he successfully effected its amalgamation with the South Eastern Railway.

In addition to the management of the Chatham and Dover line, he undertook the control of the Metropolitan District Railway, which was also in financial difficulties at the time.

From that post he retired on the transfer of the undertaking to its present hands. Mr. Forbes was also connected with the Hull and Barnsley and the Didcot and Newbury lines. His undoubted skill as a chairman of public meetings became widely known, and at various times he served on the boards of three important electric-lighting companies and of the Lion Fire Insurance Co, as well as being President of the National Telephone Co.

Mr. Forbes was keenly interested in art, and possessed a large and valuable collection of pictures, from which he frequently lent examples for exhibition at the Conversazioni of the Institution.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th March, 1865.

1904 Obituary [2]

"...that Mr James Staats Forbes died on Tuesday, aged 81. Another link with the early engineers is lost. It is true that Mr. Forbes was best known as an administrator of railways, but it was originally intended that he should he an engineer, and acquiring skill as a draughtsman he got an introduction to Brunel, and was given employment on the construction of the Great Western Railway. At that time and for several years subsequently the railway work of the..."[More].

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