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Matthew Woodifield

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Matthew Woodifield (1827-1901)

1901 Obituary [1]

MATTHEW WOODIFIELD, born at Durham in April, 1827, was the son of Mr. Matthew Woodifield, of that city and of Horden Hall, CO. Durham.

Family reasons necessitating residence in the south of Europe, his early education was obtained from German and French tutors and at a school in Geneva.

On returning to England he studied for four years at the Engineering College at Putney, and was then subsequently employed as an assistant on various works, including the construction of the Lynnn and Ely section of the East Anglian Railway, now part of the Great Eastern system.

Desiring to obtain employment in the colonies, Mr. Woodifield, on the conclusion of the last-mentioned work, proceeded to Cape Town at the age of 22. Furnished with a personal introduction to the Governor from Lord Grey, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, he speedily obtained employment on Government Works, being chiefly engaged on surveys and on the construction of roads and bridges.

In 1863 he carried out an extensive trigonometrical survey in Cape Colony, and acted subsequently for two years as Inspector of Roads under the Central Board of Commissioners of Public Roads.

Mr. Woodifield was next appointed Assistant Colonial Engineer, and was subsequently for five years First Assistant Colonial Engineer and Commissioner of Roads resident in Cape Town. One of his chief works in South Africa was the road up the Zuurberg, hewn out of the rock, the summit of which mountain was used as a convict settlement. This road was under construction for four years and is still in existence.

Owing to curtailments in the department Mr. Woodifield retired from the post of Assistant Colonial Engineer, with a small pension, in 1864, and returned to England.

Two years later he again proceeded to South Africa to take charge of the works of the Cape Copper Mining Company in the Namaqualand district.

After having been thus engaged for four years, ill-health compelled him to leave the colony.

Subsequently he visited professionally on various occasions North and South America, Spain and Norway; but during the later years of his life the state of his health rendered him unable to undertake work, although his interest in mining remained unabated to the end.

Mr. Woodifield died at his residence, 42 Castletown Road, West Kensington, on the 19th January, 1901.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th April, 1865.

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