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Henry Deane

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Henry Deane (1847-1924) formerly Engineer-in-Chief for Railways in New South Wales

1847 Born at Clapham

1924 Obituary [1]

HENRY DEANE, 31.~4, son of Henry Deane, F.L.S., was born at Clapham on the 26th March, 1847.

At the age of 16 he entered Queen’s College, Galway, where he graduated in Arts with honours in mathematics and natural science, having obtained a mathematical scholarship tenable for three years, after which he took a two years’ course in engineering and completed his studies at King’s College, London. The degree of &LA. was subsequently conferred upon him.

In 1867 he entered the oficc of Sir (then Mr.) John Fowler as a pupil of Mr. T. Marr Johnson, and was engaged on the construction of portions of the Metropolitan Railway.

In 1869 he obtained an appointment with Messrs. Waring Brothers, Concessionaires and Contractors for the East Hungarian Railway, on railway construction. During his first year in this capacity he was engaged on the construction of the Grosewardein-Klausenburg line until its practical completion, and then proceeded to the Mediash-Hermannstadt section, where he remained until a breach occurred between his employers and the Railway Company.

He then obtained an appointment, which he held for 34 years, with the Danube Steam Navigation Company at their Works at Altofen, near Buda-Pesth, as Principal Assistant to the Engineer-in-Chief and General Manager.

He returned to England in 1875, and was engaged on a variety of work, including Parliamentary and other surveys, bridge designs, etc., mainly under Sir (then Mr.) Benjamin Baker.

In 1877 he proceeded to Manila in connection with the erection of sugar works and plant, on the design of which he had previously been engaged.

Subsequently he returned to England, but owing to general depression in engineering work, decided to go out to Australia, where railway enterprise had reached considerable prominence. He landed in Sydney, New South Wales, in January, 1880, and after presenting his introduction to the late Mr. John Whitton, Engineer-in-Chief for Railways, was engaged in the Government service as a Railway Surveyor, and was put on to the section of the Great Northern line from Mullet Creek to Ourimbah.

At the beginning of 1881 he was appointed District Engineer on the extension of the railway from Gunnedah to Narrabri, and on its completion, at the end of 1882, he was placed in charge of the construction of the Homebush to Hawkesbury Railway, which was completed by the end of 1884.

He was then transferred to Sydney, where he was engaged on the preparation of plans, etc., for the proposed City Railway Extension, and later acted as Assistant Engineer Railway Surveys and Inspecting Engineer, to which latter post he was officially appointed in July, 1886, on the death of Mr. W. B. Wade. He occupied it until June, 1889, when he was appointed Acting Engineer-in-Chief for railways in Mr. Whitton’s absence. Mr. Whitton’s state of health on the completion of his leave did not permit him to take up the duties again, and as a consequence Mr. Deane was appointed to the post.

In 1894 he was commissioned by the Government to visit America and Europe for the purpose of investigating progress in connection with light railway and tramway construction, and in 1899 he took over all tramway construction work in Sydney. Again in 1904 he visited America and Europe on behalf of the Government, to investigate and report on a number of engineering subjects covering a very wide range.

In May, 1906, he retired from the Railway Service of the New South Wales Government, and was gazetted for the appointment of Government Inspecting Engineer in London, but as the terms offered were not acceptable, Mr. Deane did not take up the appointment, but went into private practice as a Consulting Engineer in Sydney. One of the important undertakings he was responsible for in this capacity was the survey and construction of 32 miles of most difficult railway, through steep and rugged country, for the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. The line runs from Clarence on the Great Western Railway of New South Wales to Newnes, in the Wolgan Valley, the total difference in level between these two points being about 1,850 feet.

He was a Member of the Royal Commission of 1909 on the Crossing of Sydney Harbour, and in 1911 reported to the Commonwealth Government on the unification of railway gauges in the Dominions a subject of which he had made a special study for many years. Following this, he became President of the Uniform Railway Gauge Conference, composed of Railway Engineers from each of the States, which sat during the latter end of 1912 and beginning of 1913.

In 1911 he was appointed Consulting Engineer to the Commonwealth Government in the matter of the survey for the Transcontinental Railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta, and in 1912 he took up the duties of Engineer-in-Chief for Commonwealth Railways, having been closely associated with the proposal since 1903, when, representing the State of New South Wales, he was Chairman of a conference of Engineers-in-Chief on the matter. Mr. Deane remained in this capacity till he retired into private life in 1914. That his engineering ability was of a high order can be judged by the various commissions and inquiries not connected directly with railway work on which he sat, among which may be mentioned the Royal Commission on Sydney Water-Supply.

He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1874, and transferred to the Class of Members in 1886. He also held the distinction from 1896 to 1899 of being the first elected Member of Council of the Institution for Australia. In 1899 he contributed to its Proceedings a Paper on "Economical Railway Construction in New South Wales."

Mr. Deane's interests, outside his profession, were wide. He was a keen botanist, and did a considerable amount of valuable work in connection with the botany of New South Wales, more particularly in the study of Australian timbers, and especially the eucalyptus, on which he was a noted authority. He was a great advocate for the application of scientific methods of conserving and utilizing the forest resources of the States.

Under the subject of palsontology he made a study of the characteristics of the Tertiary Flora of Australia, and boldly challenged the correctness of certain theories put forward by Professor Ettingshausen, the eminent Austrian palmo-botanist.

Mr. Deane was twice elected President of the Royal Society of New South Wales, and for two years was President of the Linnean Society of New South Wales ; he was also one of the early Presidents of the Institution of Surveyors, New South Wales, a society which includes fully qualified land and geodetic surveyors only. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society and of the Linnean Society of London, as well as of the Royal Horticultural Society.

Mr. Deane died suddenly on the 12th March, 1924, at his home in Malvern, Victoria, having all but completed his 77th year. He was twice married, and left a widow, three sons, and three daughters.

1924 Obituary[2]


We regret to have to record the death, at the age of 77, of Mr. Henry Deane, who was long well known as the engineer-in-chief of the New South Wales Railways, and who, on the Commonwealth Government of Australia becoming directly interested in railways, became engineer-in-chief for those lines. Mr. Deane died suddenly on March 12 at his residence in Malvern, Viotoria.

Born at Clapham on March 26, 1847, Henry Deane entered Queen’s College, Galway, at the age of 15, finally graduating in Arts with Honours, after which he attended King’s College, London, for the study of engineering subjects. His pupilage was served under Sir (then Mr.) John Fowler. During this period he was engaged on portions of the Metropolitan Railway. In 1869 he went abroad in connection with the construction of the East Hungarian Railway Company’s system, later becoming connected with the Danube Steam Navigation Company at Buda-Pesth. At the age of 28 he was back in England and working under Sir (then Mr.) Benjamin Baker, for whom, in 1877, he went to Manilla, in connection with the erection of sugar plant. On the completion of this, and having returned to England he proceeded to Australia, where he obtained an appointment as surveyor on the New South Wales railways and was engaged on the section of the Great Northern line extending from Mullet Greek to Ourimbah. In 1881 he was made district engineer and subsequently was in charge of the construction of the lines from Gunnodah to Narrabri and from Homebush to Hawkesbury. The year 1884 saw him transferred to Sydney, where in 1889 he followed Mr. John Whitton as engineer-in-chief for the railways.

In this capacity he paid visits to America and Europe in 1894 and 1904 in connection with light railway and tramway matters. He retired from the State Service in 1906 to take up consulting work, but in 1911 was appointed consulting engineer to the Commonwealth Government for the survey of the Transcontinental Railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. In the following year he was appointed engineer-in-chief for the Commonwealth Railways, relinquishing this post in 1914.

Mr. Deane was elected an assooiate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1874, being transferred to full membership in 1886. On Colonial representatives being appointed to the Council he had the honour of being the first to hold that position for Australia. He was a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society, and of the Linnean Sooiety of London, being a keen botanist and especially interested in the timbers of Australia. For two years he was President of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, being also twice elected President of the Royal Society of New South Wales, as well as one of the early Presidents of the New South Wales Institution of Surveyors."

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