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British Industrial History

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Henry Howard Humphreys

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Henry Howard Humphreys (1869-1930) of Howard Humphreys and Sons

1930 Obituary [1]

HENRY HOWARD HUMPHREYS entered into practice as a consulting engineer with the late Mr. Trant Brown in 1899 at Kilburn and shortly afterwards moved to Victoria Street, where, as senior partner of the firm of Howard Humphreys and Sons, he was well known for many years.

He was born in Somerset in 1869 and after leaving school went to University College, Aberystwyth, where he eventually graduated as Master of Science.

Upon leaving college he went to Australia in a sailing ship, where he arrived almost penniless and friendless. He secured a position as assistant engineer on the Hawksbury River Bridge in New South Wales and so gained his first practical engineering experience. He afterwards occupied a similar position on another world-famous engineering undertaking—the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. He then took up municipal work at Willesden and Wembley, becoming surveyor to the Wembley Urban District Council, but it was the restricted scope of this appointment which prompted him, though a married man without other resources than his own ability and courage, to take the bold step of trying his fortune as a consulting engineer.

From the date of his removal to Westminster he was successful and in 1909 he was appointed consulting engineer to the Crown Agents for the Colonies for sewerage and water supply works. This work took him to almost every British colony at various times until his last journey to Alexandria on which he and one of his partners, Mr. C. A. Phillips, investigated and reported on the improvement of the roads in that city. Whilst at Alexandria his health failed, due to the recurrence of dysentery which he had first incurred on the Hawksbury River Bridge, and on his return to England he was compelled to relinquish much of his work.

He died on 5th July 1930.

Mr. Humphreys took one of his sons, Mr. C. L. Howard Humphreys, into the firm in 1911, and his second son, Mr. G. Howard Humphreys, in 1918.

During the War he acted as chairman of the Midland section of the Canal Control Committee. He was consulting engineer to the National Traction Engine Owners' and Users' Association during the years of their most active struggle for road rights and as an expert witness he was so much sought after that he was frequently approached by both sides in a case.

Mr. Humphreys had been a Member of the Institution since 1900, and he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

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