Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Louis Favre

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Louis Favre (1825-1879), contractor for the execution of the St. Gothard Tunnel

1879 Obituary [1]

The late M. Louis Favre, contractor for the execution of the St. Gothard Tunnel, was a self-made man.

Born in Chene-Thonex, Switzerland, in 1825, the son of a carpenter, he entered business life, after attending a primary school, with a capital of £4.

At the age of seventeen he emigrated to France, and had the good fortune to attract attention at Lyons by proposing to complete a certain engineering work at a much lower estimate than that made by prominent engineers. His success in accomplishing what he had undertaken proved the stepping stone to his later successes.

He turned his attention to the building of railways in the South of France and Switzerland, and by wonderful industry, great power of organisation, a clear perception of engineering difficulties, and a mastery of his resources, he succeeded in amassing a fortune which enabled him to undertake the execution of the St. Gothard Tunnel, the contract for which he carried off by bidding £480,000, less than the tender of the chief competitor the Societa di Lavori Publici, a powerful Italian company. Unforeseen engineering difficulties and harassing financial troubles have no doubt, largely contributed to the death of a man whose great qualities deserve more than a passing notice.

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