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Frederick Ewart Robertson

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Frederick Ewart Robertson (1847-1912), civil engineer who worked in India

1847 Born in Hornsey, son of Frederick and Mary Robertson

1879 Married Jane Isabella Ramsay[1]

1881 His son, Frederick Ewart Junior, was born in Sindh, India[2]

1915 Indian Biographical Dictionary

Robertson, Frederick Ewart, I.E. (1892); s. of Frederick Robertson; b. 1847; educ: privately; served in P.W.D. India, 1868-89; formerly President, Egyptian Railway Board; Partner, Messrs. Robertson and Rendal, Consulting Engineers, S.W.; m. Jade Isabella. d. of M. Ramsay, 1879. Address: 32, Courtfield Gardens, S.W.

1912 Obituary [3]

FREDERICK EWART ROBERTSON, C.I.E., was born on the 24th February, 1847, and after completing the usual course of education at a private school, was articled, in 1864, to Mr. E. Wragge, M. Inst. C.E., then Resident Engineer of the railway extension works between Victoria Station and Clapham Junction.

After remaining a short time with him as an assistant, he entered, in July, 1868, the Public Works Department of India by an open competitive examination, generally known as the Stanley.

He served one year in Bengal in the Roads and Buildings branch, and then entered the State Railways Department, and for 2 years was employed on the survey for the Indus Valley Railway.

He was put in charge of the construction division in Upper Sind in 1870, and on completion of this division in 1877, in which year the railway was opened for traffic, he took 2 years' furlough, being employed during that time as an Inspector by the India Office.

He returned to India in 1879, and taking charge of a sub-division of the Indus Valley Railway, he established the railway ferry over the Indus at Sukkur, a description of which appeared in the Technical Section Papers of the State Railways Department. The ferry was successfully worked until it was replaced by the well-known Lansdowne Bridge. This bridge, which was of the cantilever type, of 820 feet span, involved the design by Mr. Robertson of novel and suitable plant for its erection. The whole of the work was successfully carried out by him, and the bridge was opened in 1889. Mr. Robertson’s services were acknowledged in a special Gazette notification, and he was made a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire.

He was subsequently appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Indus Valley Railway, which included the Khojak Junction under construction; and in 1889 he was offered and accepted the office of Chief Engineer of the East Indian Railway, which post he held for 8 years, and at one time acted as Agent.

He resigned this position for family reasons in 1897, and was appointed President of the Egyptian Railway Board. For similar reasons he relinquished this appointment in 1898 and joined Sir Alexander M. Rendel, K.C.I.E., M. Inst. C.E., practising as Consulting Engineers in Westminster; and for 14 years, up to the date of his death, he was an active partner in that firm.

Besides his Paper on the Lansdowne Bridge, awarded a Telford Premium, he also contributed to the Proceedings descriptions of his work on the Jubilee Bridge over the Hooghly, and the Embabeh Bridge, Cairo.

He died, after a short illness, on the 16th November, 1912, aged 65, having just completed the designs for the steelwork of perhaps the most difficult bridge yet undertaken, that now under construction at Sara over the Lower Ganges.

Mr. Robertson was a very talented engineer, and not only had he a profound knowledge of engineering science and practice, but, as is often the case in the career of a clever man, he had many other accomplishments. He was very fond of mechanical pursuits, and, in particular, of organ-building, and there are several churches in India indebted to him for their organs. He also published a book on the subject. A painter of no mean ability, he pursued this art to the very end of his life, He was a fluent French and Arabic linguist, and during the time he was in Egypt he compiled an Arabic vocabulary. Mr. Robertson devoted a great deal of attention to the work of the Engineering Standards Committee, serving on no less than seven sub-committees.

To those who did not know him intimately he appeared at times impatient of ineptitude, but in reality he was the kindest of men, most pleasant to work with, and possessing the highest ideas of impartiality and straightforwardness in his professional and private life.

He was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 1st December, 1874, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 25th February, 1890. In 1911 he was elected a Member of the Council of The Institution.

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