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John Hallen Abbott

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John Hallen Abbott (1831-1884)

1885 Obituary [1]

JOHN HALLEN ABBOTT was born on the 26th of February, 1831, in Nicholas Lane in the City of London, where his father practised as a solicitor.

He was educated at Kennington and at Bexley Heath, and early in 1850 was articled to the late Sir Charles Fox, M.Inst.C.E., and after passing through the shops of Messrs. Fox, Henderson & Co. at Birmingham, was for a few months engaged in the preparation of the drawings for the first Exhibition building in Hyde Park in 1851.

In 1852 he was sent to Denmark by Sir Charles Fox to assist in the construction of the Zeeland Railway from Roeskilde to Korsoer, remaining there until the completion of the line in 1856.

In February 1857 Mr. Abbott was appointed a Third-Class Assistant Engineer in the service of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, and proceeded at once to Bombay. Although the engagement was only for a period of three years, he was in October 1858 promoted to the grade of Second Class, and in March 1862 was made Resident Engineer.

In March 1865 he was appointed District Engineer, having charge of a length of 139 miles of construction, and in 1870 was made Chief Engineer of the north-east Division of the Company's system, being a length of about 750 miles. On two occasions Mr. Abbott officiated as Chief Resident Engineer of the whole railway-once for twelve months for Mr. J. R. Manning, M.Inst.C.E., in 1871, and again for twelve months for Mr. Wilson Bell, M.Inst.C.E., in 1881.

He remained in the service of the company until his death in 1884, a period of upwards of twenty-seven years. On his first arrival in India only about 100 miles of the railway were completed, and there was probably not a mile of the 1,350 miles subsequently constructed in which he had not a hand, either in the way of making surveys, superintending construction, or in maintaining after opening.

For some months he had been in failing health, and becoming suddenly worse was ordered home in June. It was scarcely expected by his friends in India that he would live to reach England, but being carefully nursed during the voyage by an old friend and colleague, he managed to do so, but died on the 5th of October, a few weeks after arrival, of a combined attack of liver complaint and dropsy.

Mr. Abbott possessed unusual personal attractions and genial manners, and of all the engineers engaged from first to last on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, he was probably the most generally popular, not only among the officers and men in his own department, but also among those in the locomotive and traffic departments. He was always foremost to assist the destitute and needy, his generosity keeping him a comparatively poor man to the day of his death. He took great interest in the establishment of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway Volunteer Corps, and at his death was the Major of the Regiment. His friends in India propose to erect a monument over his grave in Beddington Churchyard.

Mr. Abbott was elected a Member of the Institution on the 3rd of December, 1867.

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