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Thomas Wright (1812-1891)

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Thomas Wright (1812-1891)

1857 of Lombard St, London; wrote to the Editor of The Engineer concerning street railways[1]


1891 Obituary [2]

THOMAS WRIGHT was born in 1812, and was educated at Leeds.

After serving an apprenticeship of seven years as a Mechanical Engineer under Mr. Goldthorpe, of Leeds, he became for three years foreman to Hattersley and Son, of Bradford, after which he was, for a short time, in the establishment of Joseph Whitworth and Co, of Manchester, and subsequently in that of Sharp and Roberts, with whom he remained eighteen months.

He then entered the locomotive department of the London and South Western Railway, where he stayed for about four years.

He was next employed for five years in the office of Joseph Locke, being engaged during part of that time on the construction of the Barcelona and Mataro Railway, of which he afterwards became the Locomotive Engineer and Carriage Superintendent.

About 1851 Mr. Wright commenced business on his own account as a railway engineer.

In 1856 he was appointed, on the recommendation of Sir Charles Hartley, agent in England of the European Commission of the Danube, for the selection and purchase of machinery and goods of all kinds required for the construction of the river-works from Galatz to the sea. The duties of this office he continued to discharge up to within a few months of his death, to the entire satisfaction of the Commission and its Resident Engineer.

It is interesting to note that as early as 1851 a scheme was brought forward by Mr. Wright for the establishment of a 'Metropolitan Streets Tramway Company,' the object of which was 'to collect, condense, and systematize, as well as to cheapen, the transit of passengers, parcels, and goods through the streets of London and its environs.' He proposed to 'insert two lines of rails into and flush with the surface of the cart road,' and stated, as a part of his scheme, that 'the ground occupied by these rails after the trams shall have passed will be common to every other kind of vehicle as at present.'

The gauge was to be 4 feet 8.5 inches, so that the wagons used on it could run on ordinary railways. The carriages were to be of the same width as an ordinary omnibus, but the wheels were to be placed underneath in lieu of at the sides, and he considered that three such vehicles carrying a hundred and twenty passengers could be propelled by one pair of horses. The fare for a single journey was to be 3d., but 'intermediate distances of a mile' would be charged at 1d. only, while for 6d. the passenger might change from one car to another till he arrived at his journey’s end. A system of parcels delivery between the waiting-rooms provided for the passengers was also contemplated.

Another of Mr. Wright’s proposals has been already realized, namely, that of the 'Artillery Train.' This idea was advocated by him in 1864, when he pointed out the great services which such a train might render in military operations, and showed how the difficulties arising from the concussion of firing and the recoil of the guns might be met.

For the last two years Mr. Wright had suffered from bad health, and the inclemency of the weather during the winter of 1890-91 brought on an illness which proved fatal. He died of bronchitis on the 20th of February, 1891, aged 79. In character he was remarkably straightforward and unpretending, and by his strict integrity and business-like qualities earned the confidence and esteem of all who knew him.

Mr. Wright was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 5th of April, 1853.



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