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George Cooper

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George Cooper (1836-1902), railway engineer


1902 Obituary [1]

GEORGE COOPER was born in Preston on 22nd May 1836.

After receiving an elementary education, he spent three years as junior clerk in a yarn warehouse in Preston, after which he went to Rossall School for a year and a half.

In 1853 he entered the works of Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co., Newton Moor Iron Works, but towards the end of 1855 changed to Messrs. Benjamin Hick and Son, Soho Iron Works, Bolton; and, excepting an interval of nine months, he remained with this firm for five years and a half.

In March 1861 he entered the service of Mr. Edmund Sharpe, at the Phoenix Foundry, Lancaster, as draughtsman; on the manager retiring a few months later he remained in charge of the technical work of the establishment until June 1862, when, in view of the general depression of trade throughout Lancashire due to the war in the United States, he resigned his post and emigrated to Buenos Aires.

Soon after landing he obtained employment as second engineer on the "Pampero," a river steamer plying between Buenos Aires and Monte Video.

Six months later he became draughtsman to the late Mr. John Coghlan for a short time, when he entered the service of Mr. Frank Parish, H.B.M.'s Consul, as Consul's clerk, and clerk to the British Post Office, during the absence of the permanent officer. While with Mr. Parish he assisted Mr. Alfred Rumball in connection with the plans for the construction of the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway.

In 1864 he entered Mr. Rumball's service on the resident engineer's staff, and after a few months became his chief assistant engineer, remaining with him until the completion and opening of the Great Southern Railway to Chascomus, in December 1865. At that date he entered the railway company's service as locomotive foreman, and took charge, in addition to the locomotive department, of the general stores and the stations at North and South Barracas. To these duties was added shortly afterwards the charge of the permanent way.

In 1867 he was appointed assistant to the general manager, and for nine months took charge of the railway as acting general manager.

In September 1868 he retired from the Great Southern Railway to take charge, as constructing engineer and general manager, of the Central Argentine Railway, for the contractors, with whom he remained until the line had been completed to Cordoba, and handed over to the company.

In 1872 he re-entered the service of the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway to take charge of the construction of extensions, and in case of the retirement of the general manager — Mr. E. Banfield — to succeed him as chief engineer and general manager of the railway. Mr. Banfield's health broke down so rapidly that Mr. Cooper was obliged to take over his duties at once, and remained with the company until his retirement in 1886, when be returned to England.

From the beginning of 1887 to 1892 he was engineer in London to the firm of Messrs. Lucas, Gonzalez and Co., the contractors, among other works, for the construction of the prolongation and branches of the Central Northern Railway of the Argentine Government.

He visited the River Plate in 1890 as one of a commission of the Central Argentine Railway, and again in 1894 was sent out by that company to take charge of the railway during the visit of the general manager to England. He was a director of several of the Argentine Railways.

His death took place at his residence in London, after a year's illness, on 3rd April 1902, in his sixty-sixth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1877.


1902 Obituary [2]

GEORGE COOPER, born in Preston on the 22nd May, 1836, was the third son of the late Mr. Edward Miles Cooper, a Manchester merchant and cotton spinner.

After being educated at Rossall School he served a pupilage of four years, first with Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Company of Newton Moor Ironworks, and subsequently with Messrs. Benjamin Hick and Son of the Soho Ironworks, Bolton-le-Moors.

For nine months in 1857-58 he took charge of a cotton mill in Portwood, Stockport, after which he returned to Messrs. Hick and Son, with whom he remained for over three years.

In March, 1861, he entered the service of Mr. Edmund Sharpe of the Phoenix Foundry, Lancaster, as draughtsman, and, on the manager retiring a few months later, remained in charge of the technical work of the establishment until June, 1862, when, in view of the general depression of trade throughout Lancashire, due to the war in the United States, he resigned his post and emigrated to Buenos Aires. There he obtained employment as second engineer on board one of the river steamers plying between, Buenos Aires and Monte Video.

From March to June, 1863, he was engaged as draughtsman with the late Mr. John Coghlan, and for the remainder of that year he acted as Clerk to H.B.M. Consul at Buenos Aires.

In January, 1864, Mr. Cooper was appointed an Assistant Engineer, under Mr. Alfred Rumball, on the construction of the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway, from Buenos Aires to Chascomus. On the completion of that work in December, 1865, he entered the service of the Company as Locomotive Superintendent, and took charge, in addition to the Locomotive Department, of the general stores and the stations at North and South Barracas.

In 1867, during the absence of the General Manager, Mr. Edward Banfield, Mr. Cooper took charge of the railway for nine months as Acting General Manager. At the end of September, 1868, he retired from the service of the Great Southern Company to take charge, as Constructing Engineer and General Manager, of the Central Argentine Railway for the contractors, Messrs. Brassey, Wythes and Wheelwright, with whom he remained until the line had been completed to Cordoba, opened throughout to public traffic, worked for two years by the contractors, and handed over to the Company.

In May, 1872, Mr. Cooper re-entered the service of the Buenos Aires Great Southern Railway as General Manager and Engineer-in-Chief.

Ten years later the development of the Railway was such that the duties of the General Manager demanded his undivided attention, and consequently the charge of the Engineering Department was placed in other hands.

Mr. Cooper retired in 1886, when he returned to England. From the beginning of 1887 to 1892 he acted as Engineer in London to the firm of Messrs. Lucas, Gonzalez and Company, contractors, among other works, for the construction of the prolongation and branches of the Central Northern Railway of the Argentine Government.

He visited the River Plate in 1890 as one of a Commission, with the Chairman and Secretary of the Central Argentine Railway Company, and again in 1894 was sent out by that Company to take charge of the railway during the visit of the General Manager to England. He also superintended the manufacture and sending out of the materials for the Central Produce Markets at Buenos Aires. He was a Director of the North-West Argentine, the Argentine Great Western, the North-Eastern of Uruguay, and the Central Argentine Railway Companies, and of the United River Plate Telephone Company and the Santa Fe Land Company.

Mr. Cooper died at his residence, Pencliffe, Alleyn Road, West Dulwich, on the 3rd April, 1902. He was held in high esteem for his ability and for his kindly disposition, and many a man in need received advice and assistance from him.

Mr. Cooper was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 2nd May, 1871, and was transferred to the class of members on the 30th October, 1877.


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