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Alfred Brace Cruse

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Alfred Brace Cruse (1843-1884)


1885 Obituary [1]

ALFRED BRACE CRUSE, born on the 21st of September, 1843, was the eldest son of Thomas Cruse, of Warminster, Wilts, land agent and surveyor, and grandson of Joseph Brace, of Bath, who for many years was associated with Sir John Rennie, Past-President Inst. C.E., in engineering works.

He was educated at Lord Weymouth‘s grammar school, Warminster, and then entered his father’s office, in which he remained until July 1860, when he sailed for India, under a three-years’ engagement with Mr. Alpin Grant Fowler, owner of coffee estates in the Neilgherry Hills.

Having completed this engagement, and finding the position, after Mr. Fowler’s death, not altogether advantageous, he removed to the city of Madras, where he gained the notice of some influential friends, and through them a situation with the Madras Railway Company as Inspector of Works, being stationed for two years at Cuddapah.

In November 1866 he entered the service of the Madras Irrigation and Canal Company, under Mr. J. H. Latham, M.Inst.C.E., the Chief Engineer, and was first employed on the surveys of the Nellore branch, 100 miles in length, and subsequently as Assistant Engineer on the construction of the Pennair Anicut; also in laying out the line and on the construction of 8 miles of navigable canal, with its connected aqueducts, locks, bridges, and culverts. In 1871 he left the continent for Ceylon, having obtained an appointment as Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department. At this time his principal work was constructing tanks and canals near Matara, in the Southern Province, upon which many hundred coolies were employed.

In 1872 he had charge of the construction of the Elle Halle Tank, in doing which he found it hard work to make the surveys, and run the levels, through thick jungle (abounding with leeches innumerable), and to follow contours of the hill-sides some 30 or 40 miles round. This tank contained 240 acres of water surface.

In the following year he was in charge of 400 miles of roads, besides buildings, and five taluks. He afterwards went to Denegama, where he completed the Ellawela irrigation works ; superintended those in Upper Gangaboda Pattuwa ; improved Kekanadure channels, to facilitate the distribution of water, and by December 1876 finished the repairs of the Denegama Tank.

In 1878 a famine occurred in Ceylon, which greatly taxed the powers of those in authority in providing food and labour.

In 1879 Mr. Alfred B. Cruse was employed on some surveys for village tanks near Panadura, in the Western Province. He had also charge of the relief works near Colombo, upon which about two thousand villagers were employed. The work (one of several schemes surveyed by him) was a flood-outlet at Talpitiya, about 19 miles on the road towards Galle, by which lands in the Ratnapura and Halutara districts were drained, and rendered capable of being cultivated. In 1880 he was at Beregama, surveying for a channel 7 miles long, running through dense jungle.

Early in 1881 he was, at the instance of his old chief, Mr. J. H. Latham, appointed divisional engineer of the lower part of the Madras Irrigation Canal, 82 miles, then in thorough working order; but some masonry works, including a large wharf and warehouse, as well as divisional office, docks, and foreman's hut, were in progress. Next he became Local Fund Engineer at Cuddapah, and had charge of 63 miles of canal, which was used for both irrigation and navigation, and in 1883 accepted a similar appointment at Ongole, 75 miles from Nellore.

In 1884 he removed in the same capacity to Ellore, and in October of that year he obtained an advanced post, and went to Cocanada to take over the charge of his new position; but on returning to Ellore he was seized with cholera, and died, after a few hours' illness, on the 7th of October, 1884, leaving a widow and two children. Twenty-four years' continuous residence in the East, especially in unhealthy parts of Ceylon, had caused Mr. Cruse to become a victim to temporary attacks of neuralgia and fever, but few men of an English constitution could so long have endured the Indian climate, with the amount of labour and responsibility which he sustained. He was regarded as a hard-working, intelligent, and trustworthy officer, of unimpeachable character, and was a valuable acquisition on any staff. He was warm-hearted, and kept up constant communication with his home friends.



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