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John Patrick O'Donnell

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John Patrick O'Donnell (1859-1919)

1920 Obituary [1]

JOHN PATRICK O'DONNELL was born in Dublin on 1st July 1859.

He was articled with Stevens and Sons, railway signalling engineers of London and Glasgow, in 1875, and remained with them until 1882, when he was appointed assistant signal superintendent on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

From 1885 to 1889 he was in the service of the London and South Western Railway under Mr. Jacomb, the chief engineer, and during this period he designed and carried out extensive alterations to the signalling at Waterloo Station and elsewhere.

He subsequently joined Mr Dutton in establishing the firm of Dutton and Co., railway signalling engineers, of London and Worcester.

He left that firm in 1894, and in conjunction with Mr. A. G. Evans, founded the firm of Evans, O'Donnell and Co., railway signal works, Chippenham and London. This firm subsequently amalgamated with Saxby and Farmer, Ltd., and Mr. O'Donnell held the position of joint managing director for many years.

In 1901 he formed the British Pneumatic Railway Signal Co., and started the first works for the manufacture of pneumatic tools on a considerable scale in this country; he installed the first automatic signals on main passenger lines, and the first power signalling on passenger lines. Extensive contracts were carried out under his direction on the Great Central, London and South Western, Central Argentine, and other railways. At Victoria Station (South Eastern and Chatham Railway) the latest form of signalling, viz., three-position all electric interlocking, was installed.

He was a prolific inventor and a member of many technical societies. He was managing director of the Superheater Corporation, Ltd., British Power Railway Signal Co., Ltd., etc.

His death took place at Banstead on 2nd December 1919, in his sixty-first year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1888; and was a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, of the American Society of Civil Engineers, and of the Canadian Society of Civil Engineers.

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