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Thomas Rumball

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Thomas Rumball (1824-1902)

1902 Obituary [1]

THOMAS RUMBALL, a son of Mr. Thomas Rumball, of Epping, was born on the 5th October, 1824, and served his engineering pupilage to Sir Marc Isambard Brunel on the construction of the Thames Tunnel.

After having been engaged for some years on railway surveys in Portugal, he was appointed in 1852 Engineer-in-Chief of the Peninsula Railway of Portugal, now forming part of the Royal Portuguese Railways.

Mr. Rumball's connection with Portugal and Spain continued for over forty years, during which time he was engaged in the prosecution of public works in those countries, amongst which may be mentioned the survey of the line from Lisbon to Oporto, a scheme for supplying Oporto with water, the survey of a line of railway from Barcelona to Madrid, and the Alcoy and Villar Railway. For his services rendered to Portugal he was, in 1889, publicly thanked by the King and created a Knight Commander of the Order of Christ.

In 1862 Mr. Rumball was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway, in which capacity he constructed the first 100 miles of that line. On the completion of that contract he constructed the Para Gas Works, the Sao Paulo Gas Works, and the Parahibo Bridge over the river of that name for the Brazilian Government.

At the time of the Russo-Turkish War and the Treaty of San Stefmo, Mr. Bumball was induced by the late Sir W. P. Andrew to take an interest in the construction of an overland railway route to India, and took part in a mission to Constantinople in 1878, which succeeded in securing from the Turkish Government for an English syndicate the control of the railway from Haida-Pacha (Scutari) to Ismid, with the valuable privilege of extending the line to Angora and Bagdad. That railway now forms part of the Anatolian line controlled and operated by German capital, and destined to be the first section of the long-contemplated railway to India.

Mr. Rumball was in active control and management of this line for three years, during which time he became thoroughly acquainted with Asia Minor and its resources. He prepared plans for supplying the City of Constantinople with water, an undertaking subsequently carried out by a French company at a cost of £300,000. At the time of the demonstration of the English fleet at Besika Bay, he received the thanks of the War Office for his reports and information as to the Heraclea coal mines in Asia Minor and the coaling of the English fleet.

In the year 1885 he became interested in the concession for a railway from Delagoa Bay through Portuguese East Africa to the Transvaal frontier, and took part in a mission to Lisbon which obtained from the Portuguese Government such favourable modifications of the original concession as to render practicable the construction of the railway by English capitalists. In conjunction with Sir Thomas Tancred, the contractor, he completed the railway in six months, fulfilling the terms of the concession, and so saving to the English company for the time being this valuable undertaking.

Mr. Rumball was one of the founders, with the late Mr. Gerstenberg, of the Corporation of Foreign Bondholders, to which he acted as consulting engineer and as a member of its Spanish and Turkish committees for several years. He was a man of great energy and industry, most careful of the interests committed to his charge, and especially of the sound character of the many enterprises to which he committed his name.

He married Miss M. A. Medlicott, a daughter of Mr. E. Medlicott, banker, of Lisbon, in the year 1855.

Mr. Rumball died at Brondesbury on the 28th February, 1902.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 2nd May, 1854, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 10th April, 1866.

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