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Robert Reynolds

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Robert Reynolds (1833-1899)

1899 Obituary [1]

ROBERT REYNOLDS was born on the 15th November, 1833, at Boston, Lincolnshire, where his father, besides other occupations, held the appointment of Surveyor to the Corporation, amongst his duties being that of the conservation of the tidal portion of the river Witham.

The subject of this notice, after receiving a sound practical training in engineering, surveying, and field work, was sent to London, and placed on probation with Mr. Freebody, an engineer who was formerly connected with Sir John Rennie. He remained with Mr. Freebody for about six months, during which time he accompanied that gentleman to France to examine and report on a project for the drainage and reclamation of a large lake near Nantes in Brittany, and afterwards assisted in the preparation of plans, sections and estimates for a railway project in the South of England, the bill for which, however, failed to pass in Parliament.

After other work of a miscellaneous description with Mr. Freebody, Mr. Reynolds, wishing to widen his knowledge of engineering subjects and obtain some insight into the practice of mechanical engineering, left that gentleman, and became articled in 1852 for three years as a pupil to the late Richard Peacock, at that time Locomotive Superintendent of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway. By the time he had served about halfway through his indentures, Mr. Peacock entered into partnership with the late Charles Beyer, founding the firm of Beyer, Peacock and Co, and Mr. Reynolds served the remainder of his term with the new firm, continuing with it until about three months after the expiration of his indentures.

An opening then occurred in the drawing office of E. B. Wilson and Co, Railway Foundry, Leeds, owing to the despatch by that firm of Godfrey Mann to Balaclava with locomotive engines for working the Balaclava Railway, constructed to assist in the siege operations against Sebastopol during the Crimean War. Mr. Reynolds secured the position rendered vacant by Mr. Mann’s departure, and remained at the Railway Foundry until nearly the close of the year 1857, when having obtained an introduction to the late Charles Blacker Vignoles, Past-President, he was engaged by that gentleman, as an Assistant Engineer to proceed to Spain for the surveys and construction of the Tudela and Bilbao Railway to traverse the Cantabrian Pyrenees.

Mr. Reynolds arrived in Bilbao on New Year’s Day, 1858, and remained on Mr. Vignoles’ staff until September, 1862 - having been for the last three years in charge of the construction of a heavy subdivision on the summit section - when his work being completed he returned to England.

Early in 1863 W. F. Faviell, who had contracted with the Colonial Government of Ceylon to construct a railway from Colombo to Kandy, engaged as one of his staff Mr. Reynolds, who arrived in Ceylon in March of that year, and was appointed to the charge of the construction of the entire length of railway of about 74 miles.

A few months later urgent private affairs calling Mr. Faviell to England, he appointed Mr. Reynolds as his representative to the Government of Ceylon, which position Mr. Reynolds retained until Mr. Faviell’s return, after an absence of about half a year, when Mr. Reynolds resumed his former position as Chief Agent. In September, 1866, by which time the greater portion of the railway had been completed, and nearly half of it was ready for opening for traffic, the health of Mr. Reynolds had become so impaired, by frequent and severe attacks of fever, as to render him unfit for duty, and it became necessary for him to return to England.

In March, 1867, Mr. Faviell, writing from Ceylon, invited Mr. Reynolds to return and resume his former position, take charge of the maintenance of the line when finally completed, arid act as his representative in tendering for the construction of such extensions as the Government might propose. Mr. Reynolds’ medical adviser in London was so strongly opposed to his early return to the tropics that he felt reluctantly compelled to decline Mr. Faviell’s invitation, and preferred to seek further restoration to health by travel in Continental Europe.

In October, 1868, Mr. Reynolds entered the Public Works Department of the Government of India as Fourth-Grade Executive Engineer, under agreement with the Secretary of State for a term of years. He was posted to the local government of Hyderabad under thRe esident, who sent him into Berar, to examine the province and report upon the feasibility, or otherwise, of establishing irrigation works from supplies of water in the rivers whose flow almost ceased in the hot weather.

Upon the completion of his report Mr. Reynolds was recalled to Hyderabad to commence the survey of H.H. the Nizam’s State Railway, about 120 miles in length, to be made from the city of Hyderabad to a junction at Wadi with the Great Indian Peninsula Railway. He surveyed the greater portion of the route, the remainder being undertaken by other engineers, and finally prepared the plans for and constructed one division of 36 miles in length. after which he was transferred, with the rank of Second-Grade Executive Engineer, to the Northern Bengal State Railway, where he completed the construction of a division of about 57 miles in length.

In 1877 he returned to England on furlough, having suffered severely for nearly three years from chronic dysentery. A stay of about twenty months in Europe, during which time he underwent a surgical operation, restored him to comparative health, and he returned to his post on the Northern Bengal State Railway in the early part of 1879. His health again suffered, and when the Government of India, in the course of that year, deblded to reduce its engineering establishment, and offered, as an inducement to retire, a pension and bonus to those who, like Mr. Reynolds, had been engaged by the Secretary of State for a limited period, he decided to send in his resignation.

Before leaving the country he accepted a temporary appointment from the Government of India to assist in the survey of a line, to be made by the West of India Portuguese Railway Company over the Western Ghauts, from a point on the coast near Goa, to join the Southern Mahratta State Railway system.

The surveys were commenced in January, 1880, and the outdoor work was completed before the breaking of the south-west monsoon. Mr. Reynolds found, in his enfeebled state of health, the work of climbing about the Ghauts so arduous and exhausting that he was confirmed in his opinion that he was no longer fit for active outdoor work in India, and left Bombay in July, 1880, for England, where he took a long rest of about three years, during which period his health slowly recovered.

In September, 1883, a chance meeting with Mr. Richard Peacock, of the firm of Beyer, Peacock and Co., led to his being engaged by that gentleman as technical correspondent and personal assistant to Mr. H. L. Lange, chief of the firm’s engineering staff.

He held that position until January, 1889, when his health again gave way, and he was obliged to absent himself from work for about seven months, at the expiration of which period he returned to the firm under a modification of his former duties.

In October, 1896, Mr. Reynolds was attacked by paralysis, which gradually incapacitated him from work. His death took place at Leamington on the 13th July, 1899.

Mr. Reynolds was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th April, 1868, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 3rd December, 1878.

1899 Obituary [2]

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