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British Industrial History

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John Lewis

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John Lewis (1825-1865)

1866 Obituary [1]

MR. JOHN LEWIS was born on the 20th of April, 1825, in the parish of Vaynor, county of Brecon.

His parents were small but respectable farmers ; and he received his education in a private school in the village of Cefn-Coed, which adjoins the now important town of Merthyr Tydvil.

At an early age he exhibited a great aptitude for drawing, and was considerably in advance of those of his class in educational attainments.

At seventeen years of age he had the good fortune to be placed in the drawing office of the Dowlais Iron works, where he soon distinguished himself as a draughtsman, and obtained a good knowledge of Mechanical Engineering. He was afterwards removed to the mining-office of the same works, and was for a considerable time Surveyor of the extensive mining works of the Dowlais Company, under Mr. J. Dickinson, the Coal Viewer (now Inspector of Coal Mines for the Manchester District), and in that capacity Mr. Lewis acquired an extensive and varied knowledge of mining operations.

He left the employ of the Dowlais Company in 1847, and undertook the superintendence of the erection of the Briton Ferry Iron works, Glamorganshire, which he completed to the satisfaction of the proprietors.

In 1851 he commenced business on his own account, as a Mining Engineer and Surveyor, and from that period to the time of his death there were bat few works of magnitude in Glamorganshire and Breconshire with which he was not connected.

He prepared the preliminary surveys of the Penarth Docks, and was also engaged upon the surveys of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway and its branches - in the preliminary surveys of the Rhymney Railway, and frequently by the Glamorganshire and Aberdare Canal Companies.

He had likewise the management of the surveys of several collieries in the Merthyr, Rhondda, and Aberdare Coal Districts, including the extensive collieries of Mr. Crawshay, connected with the Cyfarthfa Iron works.

In 1864 he developed the Bargoed Colliery, of which he was part proprietor.

In 1851 he made the surveys for the supply of Weston-super-Mare with water, and in 1858 was engaged by the Merthyr Tydvil Local Board of Health to carry out the scheme of Mr. Hawksley (V.P. Inst. C.E.) for the supply of Merthyr with water. He did this to the entire satisfaction of the Board, and of the Chief Engineer; and, had he lived, he had intended to present an amount of the works to the Institution.

He was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1863, but attended few, if any, of its Meetings. Had his life been spared, he would have made a useful member, for one especial trait in his character was that of kindness, and a willingness to impart to others a share of the knowledge he possessed. In private life he was much esteemed for his unostentatiousness and amiability, and he died on the 10th of February, 1865, under very distressing circumstances, at the early age of only forty years, leaving a widow and two children to lament his loss.

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