William Jacomb (1831-1887)
1876 Engineer of the South Western Railways
1887 Obituary 
WILLIAM JACOMB, the younger son of a good family in easy circumstances, was born in York Street, Portman Square, in 1832.
His education, begun at private schools, was completed at the London University. After spending some time in the workshops, and attending the Science Classes at King’s College, he entered the office of his cousin, Mr. Jacomb-Hood, M. Inst. C.E., at that time the Chief Engineer of the Brighton Railway Company, as a pupil, and remained there until 1851, when he became an articled pupil of the late Mr. I. K. Brunel, V.P. Inst. C.E.
On the expiration of his articles he was employed as an assistant to Mr. Gainsford in the construction of the Paddington Terminus, and subsequently was entrusted with the entire supervision of the building of the 'Great Eastern' steamship at Millwall.
After Mr. Brunel’s death in 1859, Mr. Jacomb began business on his own account in Westminster, and was largely employed in Parliamentary and other work, taking an active part, at the same time, in the constructive details of the Metropolitan Railway under Sir John Fowler, Past President Inst. C.E., and assisting Mr. Jacomb-Hood in the design and superintendence of the heavy works on the South London and Suburban Lines then in progress for the Brighton and other railway companies.
In 1865 he was invited to join his cousin as a junior partner, and remained in that position, to the satisfaction and advantage of both parties, till the autumn of 1870, when, on a vacancy occurring at the South Western Railway by the resignation of Mr. Strapp, M.Inst.C.E., Mr. Jacomb was appointed the Chief Resident Engineer to that Company, and the partnership was dissolved.
From that time till his sudden death, from apoplexy, in his office at the Waterloo Terminus on the 26th of May, 1887, Mr. Jacomb devoted the whole of his untiring energy and great professional and commercial ability to the interests of his employers, and earned the well-deserved respect and sincere esteem, not only of the Board and his brother officers, but also of the entire Staff in every department. His genial and engaging manners made him a universal favourite with all whom he met, either in business or in society, and materially aided in smoothing away difficulties which invariably arise in dealing officially with public bodies and private interests on behalf of a large and powerful corporation.
Mr. Jacomb's intimate acquaintance with professional details, his organizing power, his ability in combining constructive perfection with true economy, and his rigid integrity and determination to protect the interests of his employers, secured a standing in the profession which few men have attained in so short a time. His early and sudden death literally 'in harness' - was a severe blow to the Directors and officers of the Company, by whom he was valued, not only as a capable adviser and coadjutor in all departments of railway administration, but as a personal friend who could ill be spared and with difficulty replaced.
Sources of Information
- The Engineer 1876/10/06
- 1887 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries