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Richard Stuart Norris

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Richard Stuart Norris (1812-1878)

1850 Resident Engineer for the London and North Western Railway.[1]


1878 Obituary [2]

MR. RICHARD STUART NORRIS was born at Bolton-le-Moors in 1812, and was educated at the grammar school of that town and at a private academy.

At the age of fifteen he was articled to Mr. W. S. Hall, an architect and surveyor, in Warrington. During the period of his pupilage the railway system was inaugurated, and the late Mr. Joseph Locke, being in want of assistants to carry out the works of the Grand Junction railway, requested Mr. Hall, who had been a fellow pupil with Mr. Locke, to transfer Mr. Norris to his service; this having been arranged, in 1830 his connection with the railway company commenced, in whose service he remained for thirty-two years.

His great energy and ability soon attracted the attention of Mr. Locke, who entrusted him with many important duties, including the survey of portions of the railway from Warrington to Birmingham.

In 1836 he was chief draughtsman in Mr. Locke’s office at Covent Garden, Liverpool, at which time the entire staff of the Grand Junction railway consisted of the secretary, two clerks, and an office boy, in addition to the engineering staff.

Upon the amalgamation of the Liverpool and Manchester, Grand Junction, and London and Birmingham railway companies, into the London and North-Western railway company, he was appointed engineer for the Northern Division, his office being at first at Warrington, subsequently removed to Liverpool. At one period of his career he combined the duties of traffic superintendent with those of engineer; but later on, it being found advisable to separate those offices, he confined his attention exclusively to his duties as engineer.

Having under his charge the whole of the London and North-Western system north of Stafford, and extending to Shrewsbury, Liverpool, Manchester, Bolton, and Leeds, the works he had to execute were numerous, although none of them were individually of very great extent. They consisted principally of rebuilding and enlarging stations and bridges, and the maintenance of the permanent way. He was remarkable for energy and promptness of action when any accident which unfortunately occurred required his presence.

In spite of numerous engagements he found time to exercise his inventive powers, and took out several patents, one of which was for a travelling hot-blast cupola for the rapid melting of metal: this patent was eventually sold to a Scotch railway company, but the use of it was given to the Government during the war with Russia, making red-hot shot, which it did with great effect.

In 1853 he was nominated engineer to the Grand Trunk railway of Canada, but declined the appointment, owing to a reluctance to sever his connection with the London and North- Western railway. On this decision being made known, the working staff under his control presented him with a silver vase and a purse containing Sl00, as a token of their satisfaction at his remaining with them.

When Mr. Norris retired from the post of passenger superintendent, the station-masters and other officials of that department gave him a massive tea and coffee service in silver, together with a handsome illuminated address. At the expiration of twenty-five years’ service the directors presented him with the sum of £1,000, as a token of their appreciation of the valuable assistance derived from his exertions.

In 1862 he retired from the service of the company, to whose interests he had devoted the best years of his life. His energetic mind would not however permit him to remain idle. He accordingly invested money in some collieries, and took an active part in their management and development.

In order to be nearer to this new sphere of action, he left Liverpool and settled at Kenyon Junction, on the Liverpool and Manchester railway, where from his window he could see that line and the Kenyon and Bolton railway, both of which had been for so many years under his charge.

In his retirement he continued to take delight in professional matters, and invented a manual coal-cutting machine, which has been tried with a considerable amount of success. He also acted as engineer for a proposed narrow-gauge railway from Buxton to Sheffield, through a most difficult country, but the scheme was bought up by the existing railway interests.

In 1874 and 1875 he successfully carried through Parliament two Bills for the construction of the Wigan Junction railway, a most important undertaking, and one in which he took a deep interest. The preparation of the contract plans for this railway was his last professional work.

In 1876, as soon as the contract was let, his failing health compelled him to relinquish all work. A fern years before his death he received severe injuries from a fall while salmon fishing in Scotland, a sport of which he was passionately fond ; and he never fully recovered from the effects of this accident.

He died at Kenyon on the 26th of January, 1878, and was interred at Deane Church, near Bolton-le- Moors. He was one of the few remaining links between the former and present generation of engineers, having been an intimate associate of the Stephensons, Locke, and other founders of the railway system. As a man he was remarkable for his energy, good-nature, and sociability, while his charity was unbounded. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than to assist his younger professional brethren, both with advice and with material help; and probably no man was ever more beloved by his subordinates.

Mr. Norris was elected a Member of the Institution on the 7th of March, 1854.


1879 Obituary [3]

RICHARD STUART NORRIS was born in 1812 at Bolton, Lancashire, and at the age of fifteen was articled to Mr. W. S. Hall, an architect and surveyor at Warrington.

In 1830 he was engaged under Mr. Joseph Locke on the Grand Junction Railway, and surveyed portions of the line from Warrington to Birmingham.

In 1836 he was chief draughtsman in Mr. Locke's office in Liverpool. Upon the formation of the Liverpool and Manchester, the Grand Junction, and the London and Birmingham Railways into the London and North Western Railway, he became engineer for the northern division, residing first at Warrington and afterwards at Liverpool, and having under his charge the whole of the system between Stafford, Shrewsbury, Liverpool, Manchester, Bolton, and Leeds.

He invented a plan of casting railway joint chairs is situ by employing suitable chill plates to form the mould, and running the melted metal in from a portable cupola carried on a plate-layer's lorry. Of this plan he gave a description to the Institution (see Proceedings 1853, p. 101); and a cupola of the same construction was afterwards used by the Government during the war with Russia, for making red-hot shot, which it did with great effect.

In 1862 he retired from the railway, and settled at Kenyon Junction, on the Liverpool and Manchester line, where he continued to occupy himself with engineering pursuits;. and in 1874 and 1875 he successfully carried through parliament two bills for the construction of the Wigan Junction Railway. In 1876 failing health compelled him to relinquish all work; and he died at Kenyon on 26th January 1878.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1850.


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