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James Fforde

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James Fforde (1836-1907)

1908 Obituary [1]

JAMES FFORDE, eldest son of the late Rev. Robert Fforde, Rector of Annaclone, Co. Down, was born on the 26th December, 1836, at Drumgooland Rectory, near Castlewellan, Go. Down.

After being educated at the Royal School, Dungannon, he served a pupilage of 3 years to his cousin, A. W. Forde, and was subsequently employed for 3 years on the construction of various railways in the north of Ireland.

In 1858 Mr. Fforde was appointed by Mr. (afterwards Sir) Charles Hutton Gregory, Past-President, an assistant engineer on the construction of the Recife and Sao Francisco Railway, Brazil, where he remained for 5 years, becoming Maintenance Engineer of the line on its completion.

Returning to England in 1863, he entered the service of Waring Brothers, contractors, with whom he remained until 1872. During this period he carried out a number of important contracts, chiefly on the continent of Europe, including surveys of a section of the Orel and Vitebsk Railway in Russia, extensions of the South Eastern Railway of Portugal, the construction of the line between Croydon and Groombridge, on the Surrey and Sussex Railway, the improvement and arching in of the River Senne in its course through Brussels, the construction of about 200 miles of the East Hungarian Railway between Blasendorf and Kronstaat, and the inspection of the route for a proposed line between Cordoba and Tucuman, in Argentina.

Returning home in 1872, he relinquished for a time his professional pursuits, and having married Martha Harriet, daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Creswell, of Lisbon, he lived for 5 years on his estate in Co. Armagh, being made a Justice of the Peace for that county in 1874 and for Co. Down in 1875.

At the end of 1876, on the recommendation of Sir Charles Hutton Gregory, Mr. Fforde obtained the appointment of Chief Inspector of Public Works for the Cape Colony, and held this position for 5 years. He then rejoined Charles Waring and remained with him 2 years, when the latter gave up his business.

Between 1884 and 1887 Mr. Fforde practised as a consulting engineer in Westminster, in which capacity he was connected with railway undertakings in Chile, Spain and South Africa, the Adelaide Docks in South Australia, and other works.

In 1887 he was appointed by the Algeciras (Gibraltar) Railway Company their Engineer-in-Chief in Spain. This line forms a connecting link between Gibraltar and the main system of Spanish railways. The works entailed considerable and unforeseen difficulties, but these were successfully surmounted and the line was completed and opened for traffic in 1892.

Before returning to England, Mr. Fforde went to Greece to make an inspection and report on the state of the works of the Piraeus and Larissa Railway for the contractors.

He then resumed his consulting practice in London until 1896, when he went to Brazil as Engineer-in-Chief to the Sao Paulo Railway Company to carry out the works entailed by the reconstruction and doubling of their line.

This was Mr. Fforde's last work, as it was also one of the most important, the engineering works possessing many unique and interesting features. They were satisfactorily completed and Mr. Fforde returned home at the end of 1900.

Later he presented to The Institution a description of these works, an abstract of which was published in the Proceedings.

He spent his last years at his home, Raughlan, Lurgan, Co. Armagh, and busied himself chiefly with farming pursuits. He took great interest in the Bann drainage-works by which the low-lying shores of Lough Neagh are prevented from flooding in winter, and of which he was appointed a Trustee.

Mr. Fforde died on the 16th October, 1907, in his 71st year. He was a man of high professional attainments and combined sound theoretical knowledge with a thorough practical experience of engineering construction and the organization and management of large undertakings. His genial and kindly personality attached to him a wide circle of friends, by whom his death was sincerely regretted.

Mr. Fforde was elected a Member of The Institution on the 14th January, 1879.

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