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Charles Lanyon

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Sir Charles Lanyon (1813-1889)

1840 Charles Lanyon of Belfast, County Surveyor of Antrim. became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1889 Obituary [2]

SIR CHARLES LANYON, who, after a protracted illness, passed away at his residence, The Abbey, Whiteabbey, on the 31st of May, 1889, was a prominent figure not only in Belfast and the County of Antrim, but throughout the whole of Ireland, having been professionally employed in every county with the exception of ore.

He was the son of Mr. John Jenkinson Lanyon, of Eastbourne, Sussex, and was born on the 6th of January, 1813.

He was articled to the late Mr. Jacob Owen of the Board of Works, Ireland, one of whose daughters he afterwards married. In the year 1835, at the first examination for County Surveyors, he took the second place on the list and was appointed to the County of Kildare ; but the following year he was transferred at his own request to the County of Antrim where a vacancy had occurred. Mr. Lanyon discharged the arduous duties of his office with extraordinary zeal, energy and tact, and was the means of getting many of the most important county works, such as the Antrim coast road from Larne to Portrush, carried into execution. The general management of the repairs and maintenance of the roads and bridges was carefully attended to, and after some years it was generally admitted that in these respects Antrim was the premier county in Ireland.

When County Surveyor he designed and carried out the Queen’s and Ormean Bridges over the River Lagan at Belfast, and the Agivy Bridge over the Lower Bann. Besides his strictly county work, he was the Chief Engineer for the group of railways once known as the Belfast and Ballymena, and the extensions thereof to Portrush and Cookstown, now amalgamated with the line from Coleraine to Derry, under the title of the Northern Counties Railway. He was also Engineer to the Belfast, Holywood and Bangor, and the Carrickfergus and Larne Railways.

In conjunction with Mr. Bateman, Past President Inst. C.E., he carried out that part of the Belfast Water-works known as the Woodburn scheme, a considerable work in its day. Whilst far from neglecting his engineering and official duties, Mr. Lanyon was so fortunate as to acquire a very extensive architectural practice. Many of the residences of the county families, not only in Antrim but throughout Ireland, were either built or remodelled under his directions. In Belfast his most notable edifices, for local purposes, are the County Gaol, and County Courthouse, which are connected with one another by an arched passage under the Crumlin Road. There are many other proofs of his skill, but the Custom House, the Queen’s College, the Presbyterian College, and the Deaf and Dumb Institution, are the best known and most likely to be associated with his memory. As Honorary Architect to the Church Extension Society some fourteen churches were erected in the Diocese of Down, and Connor, and Dromore, from his designs.

In October, 1966, Mr. Lanyon was returned in the conservative interest as one of the members for Belfast.

In 1868 he received the honour of knighthood in recognition of his high professional position. Sir Charles Lanyon was for a lengthened period an energetic and very useful member of the County Antrim Grand Jury, and in 1878 held the office of High Sheriff of the County. For a great many years he was a Justice of the Peace for both the County of Antrim and the City of Belfast, he was also a deputy-lieutenant of the County Antrim. He was an enthusiastic member of the Masonic fraternity, and for a long time occupied the position of Grand Master of the Province of Antrim. He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 24th of March 1840. He was for some time a Vice President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and President of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland. He also filled for several years the office of President of the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland, was a Royal Hibernian Academician, a member of the Belfast Corporation, and in the year 1862 served the office of Mayor.

Sir Charles Lanyon was a general favourite and a most excellent man of business ; he was perfectly courteous and gentle, but at the same time firm and determined, and his aim was to have his works properly carried out. This characteristic was very marked during his occupancy of the office of County Surveyor. Sir Charles was for a lengthened period Vice Chairman of the Belfast and Northern Counties Railway, and Chairman of the Belfast, Holywood, and Bangor Railway, and also occupied a seat on most of the County and City Boards, such as the Prisons Board, the Lunatic Asylum Board, the Local Marine, the Government School of Art, of which he was President, the Belfast Harbour Board, the Deaf and Dumb Institution, Poor Law Board, the Sailors Home, and the Nurses Home.

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