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Thomas Masterman Hardy Johnston

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Thomas Masterman Hardy Johnston (1817-1894)

1895 Obituary [1]

THOMAS MASTERMAN HARDY JOHNSTON, born at Belfast on the 23rd of July, 1817, was the youngest son of the late Captain E. Johnston, R.N., and godson of the late Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Bart., G.C.B., Captain of the 'Victory' (Lord Nelson’s flagship) at the Battle of Trafalgar.

He received his early education at Chelsea, and subsequently in France. On leaving school he was appointed to the Ordnance Trigonometrical Survey of England, and was engaged in surveys throughout portions of Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire.

He then served a short pupilage under the late John Barrow, Civil Engineer, of Chester, during which he was principally occupied in making surveys and plans of several parishes in North Wales under the Tithes Commutation Act.

In 1843-44 Mr. Johnston served as Assistant Engineer under Robert Stephenson, on the permanent surveys of 40 miles of the Chester and Holyhead Railway from Chester to Conway.

He was subsequently engaged till 1847 under Joseph Locke, upon the parliamentary surveys of the Caledonian Extension and the Central Devon and Cornwall Railways.

From 1841 to 1856 he served under I. K. Brunel, on the works of the South Devon, Cornwall, and West Cornwall Railways, including those of the Great Western Docks at Plymouth. He was also engaged on the survey for the site of the Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar at Saltash, and on the operations connected with the foundations of the centre pier, laid at a depth of 90 feet below high water and in a tide-way running at the rate of 7 miles an hour.

In July, 1850, he was employed by James Meadows Rendel to survey and make a chart of the harbour and roadstead of St. Peter in the island of Guernsey, together with detailed sections, soundings, borings, &c., for a proposed harbour.

In March, 1856, Mr. Johnston was appointed an Assistant Engineer on the staff of the Madras Railway Company, and was placed in charge of 25 miles on the South-West line, and subsequently as Resident Engineer at Cuddapah of 75 miles of the North West line on those works, he had an attack of rheumatic fever which obliged him to take sick-leave.

Returning to India in April, 1862, Mr. Johnston was again posted to his old quarters at Cuddapah, where he was engaged till the beginning of April, 1865, when he again went home on leave for three months. In the following autumn he was transferred to an unhealthy district, where he suffered much from fever and rheumatism.

In May, 1867, his engagement with the Madras Railway Company terminated. During the eleven years of his service many large bridges and other important works, extending over an aggregate length of 100 miles, were completed under his supervision.

Mr. Johnston was then appointed Acting Chief Engineer to the Government of Travancore, and was actively engaged for two years in re-organizing the Public Works Department of that State.

In October, 1869, he became an Executive Engineer on the Indus Valley State Railway, and was placed in charge of the Empress Bridge Division over the River Sutlej. The prospect of being connected with the construction of so important a work as the great bridge over the Sutlej was, however, of but short duration, for on the 25th of January, 1870, he was appointed by Sir Salar Jung - then Prime Minister of Hyderabad - Secretary and Consulting Engineer in the Public Works Department of the Nizam’s Government. In those capacities, he was engaged in organizing and conducting the administration of a department extending over an area of nearly 100,000 square miles, with a population of 10,000,000 until September, 1872. The Chanda coal-fields, in the north-east of the dominion near Nagpur, were developed, and a railway from Hyderabad to Masulipatam was projected and surveyed by him. He also had a trigonometrical survey and map made of the city of Hyderabad and its environs, with a view of carrying out an efficient water-supply, drainage, and other sanitary improvements. Workshops, furnished with modern English tools, under the management of a skilled English mechanic, were also established at Chudderghaut near the city.

In September, 1872, finding that his health had seriously suffered from so long a residence in India, Mr. Johnston returned to England.

In the following July he emigrated with his family to New Zealand. He arrived in Auckland in October, 1873, since which he lived a comparatively retired life. After some years of failing health he expired at his residence in Christchurch on the 24th of September, 1894.

Mr. Johnston married on the 15th of June, 1866, the fourth daughter of the late Rev. Albany Wade, of Hilton Castle, County Durham, by whom he leaves five daughters and three sons.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 7th of February, 1860.

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