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William Rogers

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William Rogers (1843-1888)


1889 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM ROGERS was the eldest son of the late Ebenezer Rogers, of Abercarne Vach, Abercarne, Monmouthshire, and was born on the 5th of February, 1843.

At the age of sixteen, he entered the Ebbw Vale Ironworks, and went through the various shops, being afterwards engaged as an assistant in the engineering department.

Leaving these works in 1863, he was engaged for eighteen months as Assistant Manager under the late Mr. S. H. Blackwell, at the Russell Hall and Corbyn Ironworks in Staffordshire, and upon the branch railways connected therewith.

Having by this time acquired a considerable knowledge of the manufacture of iron, and an amount of useful experience in the construction of ironwork generally, which proved invaluable to him in the varied works which he had subsequently to carry out in foreign countries, he, in 1865, went to Australia. For a period of six years from this time he found employment upon the railways, waterworks, and other public works in the Government of South Australia, first as an Assistant Engineer, then as Resident Engineer in charge of the surveys and construction of the Port Wakefield and Hayles Plain Railway, and of the Dry Creek Loop Line, under Mr. William Hanson, Engineer-in-chief, and Mr. J. England, and subsequently as Chief Engineer to the contractors of the Northern Extension Railway. In these various positions throughout this period, Mr. Rogers proved a thoroughly trustworthy surveyor, and showed that he possessed great natural capacity as an engineer.

Retuning to this country in 1871, he spent but a short time at home, for the same year he obtained an appointment as assistant on the staff of the Imperial Government Railways of Japan. During the next five years he filled in succession the posts of Resident Engineer during the construction of the Central Section of the Osaka-Kioto line, and Resident Engineer in charge of the open Yokohama-Yedo line, under Mr. R. Vicars-Boyle, C.S.I., the Engineer-in-chief. Owing to the abandonment at his time of further extensions by the Japanese Government, and the consequent reductions in their English staff, Mr. Rogers, in 1876, found himself out of employment, and came home.

After a few months in England, he accepted a post as Assistant Engineer on the East London and Queenstown Railway, under Mr. James Fforde, Chief Engineer for the Cape Colony, and was engaged on that railway until its completion, and on other minor works until his return in 1881.

The next field in which Mr. Rogers worked was Brazil; as Chief District Engineer, he was engaged in the construction of the Alagoas Railway, and afterwards as Chief Engineer of the surveys, and preparing the plans and estimates of the Sergipe Railway, 115 miles in length, for Messrs. Hugh Wilson and Sons. Respecting his work on this latter line, the Consulting Engineers, Messrs. Hawkshaw, Son, and Hayter, write: “This line has been laid out with skill and judgment, and complete information obtained, and we have never known a work of the kind more rapidly, and at the same time more effectually done.”

The commencement of the construction of the Sergipe Railway appearing to be postponed for some time, Mr. Rogers returned to England in 1885, and being unwilling to wait an indefinite time for the resumption of active work in this district of Brazil, he accepted the post of Engineer-in-chief of the West Australian Railway then projected from Albany to Perth, and started for that colony in August, 1886. For a period of eighteen months, he carried out the multifarious duties of locating and inaugurating the construction of the line in a sparsely populated and almost unexplored country, throughout its length of upwards of 240 miles, when, on the 20th of February, 1888, whilst at his rooms at Albany, he was suddenly struck down with an attack of apoplexy, and expired in a few minutes. Thus, at the early ago of forty-fire years, ended a bright career, marked by hard and energetic work, and an amount of varied experience in foreign lands that falls to the lot of few engineers.

Mr. Rogers was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of February, 1877, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 1st of April, 1879.


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