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Thomas Manson Rymer-Jones

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Thomas Manson Rymer-Jones (1839-1894)

1894 Obituary [1]

THOMAS MANSON RYMER-JONES, the eldest son of the late Thomas Rymer-Jones, F.E.S., the eminent naturalist, was born in London on the 9th of December, 1839.

After being educated at King’s College, London, he was articled in 1858 to James Abernethy, under whom he was engaged two years later on the Falmouth Harbour and Dock works. There he obtained a practical knowledge of masonry which proved extremely useful in after life.

In 1862 he took charge of similar work at Devonport for Mr. Jackson, and towards the end of the following year he was appointed, at the instance of the late Sir John Hawkshaw, an Assistant Engineer the staff of the Madras Railway Company. After some preliminary work, in order that he might gain experience of the natives, he was specially charged by the late W. G. Smart, then Chief Engineer, with the erection of considerable iron-girder bridges, a work necessitating much exposure to the sun and requiring extreme care. Having carried these out with rapidity and to the satisfaction of his chief, he was placed in charge of a District on the North West Division. Being more or less out of health from the effects of the climate and of fever, he returned to England in the autumn of 1870.

Having recruited his health Mr. Rymer-Jones obtained in the summer of 1871 an appointment as an Assistant Engineer on the Mexican Railway, under the late James Samuel, Consulting Engineer, and the William Cross-Buchanan, Chief Engineer.

He was employed on a section of 54 miles from Orizaba towards the city of Mexico. Another section had already been commenced from that city, and the two parties met in July, 1872, the work having been carried out in less than twelve months in the face of many difficulties. Early in the following year he made surveys of the Smyrna and Cassaba Railway in Asia Minor for J. H. Hutchinson, who was in charge of the construction of that line.

In September, 1873, Mr. Rymer-Jones was appointed an Assistant Engineer on the Imperial Government Railways of Japan, under R. Vicars Boyle and subsequently under T. R. Shervinton. He was first engaged on the survey of the northern section of a projected line from Kioto to Tsuruga on the west coast, through rough country, 650 feet above Lake Biwa - round part of which the line lay - and 900 feet above sea-level.

From the spring of 1875 until 1878 he was in charge of the construction of two sections between Osaka and Kioto. The general course of that line is west of the important River Yodo, and the work involved an immense amount of cross-drainage and of bridging tributaries, nearly all of which are subject to sudden and heavy floods.

After the opening of the line to Kioto Mr. Rymer-Jones remained in general charge, under Mr. Shervinton, and in August, 1878, he was entrusted with the construction of the extension from Kioto to Otzu, the first section of the line to Tsuruga referred to above. The works included a bridge over the Kamogawa at Kioto, and the Osakayama tunnel nearly half a mile in length.

This tunnel, of which he presented a description to the Institution, was the first constructed in Japan, and was entirely carried out by native workmen. Some severe gradients on this extension afforded valuable experience to the Japanese staff.

Mr. Rymer-Jones returned to England at the beginning of 1881, and in the summer of 1883, he was appointed Engineer to a syndicate which had undertaken the construction of a railway from the port of Libertad to San Salvador and Santa Anna. He proceeded with an adequate staff to Central America and commenced operations; but, owing to the unsettled state of the country, funds were not forthcoming, the line was abandoned, and he returned home in the following summer.

He took offices in the city as a Consulting Engineer, and in the spring of 1894 he completed and patented a method of ventilating steam-ships and of increasing forced draught.

For some time his health, which had suffered from residence abroad, was indifferent, and a severe attack of jaundice, followed by haemorrhage of the liver, proved fatal on the 26th of July, 1894.

Mr. Rymer-Jones was highly esteemed by his chiefs and colleagues as well as by all who worked under him. His sanguine and energetic temperament, and kind, genial disposition, found ample scope abroad. While strictly devoted to duty and vigilant in the discharge of every work entrusted to his care, he was fond of sport and adventure. He was a Freemason of many years’ standing, having held office as Master of the Lodge at Kobe and as Deputy Grand Superintendent of Works in Japan.

In 1876 he became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Mr. Rymer-Jones was elected an Associate on the 3rd of December, 1867, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 6th of December, 1870.

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