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John William James

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John William James (1820-1908)

1908 Obituary [1]

JOHN WILLIAM JAMES was born on the 18th November, 1820, at Buncraggy, County Clare, and was thus in his eighty-eighth year when, after a long and varied engineering career pursued in four continents, he died in New South Wales on the 10th January, 1908.

He was educated at Ennis College, and after serving a pupilage of 5 years to Mr. William Stokes, Civil Engineer, of Banagher, King's County, he was given employment by the late Sir John Macneill on railway work in the north of Ireland, subsequently coming to England, where he was similarly occupied in the southern and western counties for several years.

In 1849 he went to the United States, where he obtained employment as a land surveyor, and subsequently became assistant engineer on the New York and Erie Railway.

At the end of 1851 he crossed into Canada, to take part in the survey and construction of the Buffalo, Brantford and Goderich Railway, of which he eventually became Chief Engineer, and when this line was merged in the Buffalo and Lake Huron undertaking, Captain R. Barlow being appointed Chief Engineer, Mr. James as Chief Assistant constructed the remaining half of the railway, and succeeded Captain Barlow as Engineer of the completed line in 1858.

In the following year, Mr. James returned to England and received from Sir Alexander M. Rendel the appointment of District Engineer on the Jubbulpore Division of the East Indian Railway. He held this position for 9 years, until the works upon which he was engaged were completed.

He then returned to Canada and spent some years in consulting practice.

In 1876 he went out from England to South Australia, where he at once secured an appointment in the Government service, in which he remained, with one short interval, until his retirement in November, 1890. During this period of 14 years, he was engaged continuously on railway survey and construction work in various parts of the State, and especially on exploratory surveys in the Northern Territory. He also examined the course of the River Murray as far as the New South Wales boundary, and in his report recommended training and other works for the improvement of navigation, which were subsequently carried out and successfully accomplished their object.

His last work was the construction of the railway and jetty at Port Darwin in the Northern Territory.

On the completion of this work, he entered upon a well-earned rest, taking with him into retirement the esteem and regard of all who knew him as a loyal and genial friend, an able colleague, and a conscientious and considerate employer.

Mr. James was elected a Member of The Institution on the 1st December, 1868.

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